Betting Guide: Pai Gow Poker Strategy

pai gow poker strategy

Pai Gow Poker offers one of the best opportunities in casino gambling to defeat the house. With proper Pai Gow Poker strategy, you can reduce the house margin to 1.46 percent. But how can you put this plan into action?

Learn all you need to know about beating Pai Gow poker including:

  • The game’s purpose
  • Why the house has an edge
  • Pai Gow Poker Strategy
  • Commission-free games

What is Pai Gow Poker?

Dated back to the 1980s, Pai Gow Poker, a popular version of banked poker. This game allows players to test their luck and abilities against the casino.

If you’re familiar with Chinese poker, you’ll soon pick up on the rules of Pai Gow poker.

Pai Gow has a house edge of around 2.8 percent, which isn’t bad. Furthermore, the volatility of the game is quite low because of how the game is being played. Furthermore, many hands will end up in a tie (push). It means you’re often able to play long sessions without making a serious dent in your poker bankroll.

Pai Gow Poker isn’t very difficult to learn. With a little practice and a basic grasp of how to defeat the dealer, you should be OK.

Do you want to play free Pai Gow? Top Live Casinos in Singapore allows you to play Pai Gow online game free.

How to play Pai Gow Poker?
How to play Pai Gow Poker?

Pai Gow Poker House Rules: How to play Pai Gow?

The purpose of Pai Gow Poker is to beat the dealer, which is similar to other casino games like 3 Card Poker and Ultimate Texas Holdem. To do this, you’ll need to build two different hands that are stronger than the dealer’s two hands.

With the presence of a Joker, the game is played with a conventional 52-card deck.

In Pai Gow, the Joker acts as a semi-wild card, since it may be utilized to complete any straights or flushes. The Joker is treated as an Ace in all other situations.

Why you should check the Pai Gow house rules?

Before you play the game, you need to check the Pai Gow Poker house rules. See if the wheel (A, 2, 3, 4, 5) is counted as it is or as the second-highest straight hand. For some reason, some locations still consider the wheel to be the second-best straight, which is vital to know before you begin.

The ante bet is placed by all players at the start of a hand of Pai Gow Poker. Following that, everyone (including the dealer) will be dealing seven face-down cards. Also, you’ll get an opportunity to glance over your cards when they arrive. Then, you’ll need to divide them into two hands:

  • Top hand – one 2-card hand combination
  • Bottom hand – one 5-card hand combination

As previously stated, the optimum outcome is for both of your hands to defeat the dealer’s hands. The winner is determined by standard poker hand rankings. This includes one pair defeating a high-card hand, two pairs against any single pair, and so on.

Take Note: In Pai Gow, one of the most essential rules to remember is that your top hand should never be stronger than your bottom hand.

If you have a pair of 10s at the bottom, for example, you can’t put a pair of Jacks at the top. If you do so, your hand will be fouled, and you will lose your wager.

The Payouts

Everything you need to know about the rules of Pai Gow Poker is outlined here. The dealer will arrange their hand once all of the players have finished setting up their hands. The winners will be paid once they compare their hands to the players’ hands.

  • You’ll be rewarded 1:1 on your ante if both of your hands defeat both of the dealer’s hands.
  • The bet is shifted back if you win one hand but lose the next (a tie).
  • All ties are broken by the dealer. It means that if you have the same hand as the dealer, such as a pair of Kings in your top hand, the dealer wins.

It’s worth noting that most casinos tack on a 5% fee to your wins, increasing the house edge. On the other hand, some casinos eliminate this practice. By doing so, it makes the game much more enjoyable for the players. The Pai Gow Poker house edge is expected to be roughly 1.3 percent if there is no commission involved.

Pai Gow Poker Side Bets

The game has developed through time to include a variety of versions. The essential guidelines are the same for all of them. However, some of them will allow you to place Pai Gow Poker side bets, which adds to the excitement and increases your chances of winning large.

When side bets are available, you are simply wagering that you’ll get a three-of-a-kind or better hand. Furthermore, side bets have no bearing on your primary wagers and are paid regardless of the outcome of the hand.

Of course, side bets increase the house edge (and by a large amount), so you should avoid them if this is a problem. At the same time, side bets are the only way to win large in Pai Gow Poker, even if it takes a lot of chance.

Pai Gow Poker Strategy

In reality, Pai Gow isn’t a particularly difficult game to play from a strategic standpoint. This is because there aren’t any betting decisions to make along the way. You’ll never have to think about other bets or whether they’re worthy placing because you’ll only ever make one at the start of the hand.

You still have some choices to make about how you will arrange the cards in your hand, though. Remember that your top (low) hand must always be ranked lower than your bottom (high) hand. At the same time, you need to consider the best possible outcome.

To win at Pai Gow, you must beat both of the dealer’s hands. Therefore, making a powerful hand at the back while having something like 9-high at the top won’t cut it.

Take Note: It is far better to have two reasonably powerful hands than one really strong hand combined with air.

Basic Pai Gow Poker Strategy

This game can be as simple or as complex as you want it to be. Stanford Wong, a well-known gambling author, even produced a 150-page book on the subject titled Optimal Strategy for Pai Gow Poker.

We won’t go into detail because the basic method can bring you close to ideal results. Here’s a quick guide to what you should do with each hand you’re given.

What are the winning strategy in Pai Gow?
What are the winning strategy in Pai Gow?

No Hand – Pai Gow Poker Strategy

Haven’t received a pair yet? Put your top card in the 5-card hand and your next two highest cards in the 2-card hand.


In the 5-card hand, you must play your pair, while you must put your next two highest cards on your 2-card hand.

Two Pair

You should put your top pair in your 5-card hand, while the lowest pair should go in the 2-card hand. The only exceptions are Kings and two’s, which should both be played in the 5-card hand.


In your 2-card hand, play the highest pair. Then in your 5-card hand, use the lower pairings to build a two-pair.

Three of a Kind

In the 5-card hand, keep the three-of-a-kind. If you have Aces, you’ll play a pair in the 5-card hand and a single Ace in the 2-card hand.

Full House – Pai Gow Poker Strategy

In the 5-card hand, you should put the three of a kind, while in your 2-card hand, put the pair. The only exception is if you have a full house and another pair, in which case the highest pair goes into the 2-card hand.


You can use this Pai Gow Poker strategy with a 5-card hand. The only exception is if you hold a two-pair, which may be divided into powerful 2-card and 5-card hands.


This Pai Gow Poker hand follows the same principles as straights.

Four of a Kind – Pai Gow Poker Strategy

Keep your four of a kind in the 5 card hand if it includes sixes or below. Otherwise, split the hand between your two and five-card hands if it contains sevens or greater.

Five Aces

Make a three-of-a-kind and a two-pair hand using this hand. For the two-card hand, the only exemption is if you have five Aces and a pair of Kings. Unless you have a pair of Kings to put at the front, always divide five Aces (if you have a Joker).

This is pretty much everything there is to know about Pai Gow Poker’s strategy. It may appear to be a lot of material at first, but most of it makes sense after some thought, so you should have no trouble memorizing it.

Plus, when you’re playing online, you may keep this advice open on the side and refer to them if you’re unsure what the optimal play is.

How to improve your Pai Gow Odds?

In Pai Gow Poker, all players have equal chances of acquiring any of the cards. While there is no way to make the cards fall in a player’s favor, understanding how to arrange them into the best Pai Gow Poker hands increases the odds of winning or tying.

Pai Gow Poker: How to Deal?

To begin, you must shuffle the deck well. Then, deal seven cards facing down to each player in the game. To begin the deal, randomly choose a seat and distribute cards counter-clockwise around the table.

Where to play Pai Gow online game free?
Where to play Pai Gow online game free?

Are you playing at a full six-handed table?

Then, you’ll deal 42 cards to the players and seven more to yourself, for a total of 49 cards. There are 53 cards in the deck with the joker, so you should have four additional cards. These will not be utilized and should be thrown out in the muck.

Pai Gow Poker Strategy: Banking Against Yourself

When a player uses his right to the bank, the other players may want a shot at whatever the side bet is. However, they do not want to gamble against each other on the initial stake. Another purpose for this might be to “alter the table’s luck”. In this situation, non-banking players and banking players may agree that if one of them defeats the other, the winner will reimburse the loser minus the 5% fee.

Through a gentleman’s agreement with the banker, you’re banking against yourself. Therefore, the dealer is unable to do anything about it. Some casinos will expressly prohibit it. However, it may be difficult to avoid in some cases. For example, the deal is made in a foreign language that the dealer is unfamiliar with.

This is just a heads-up that if you want to bank, you could be requested to do this. It is up to you how you reply, but if you say “no”, we are afraid you’ll end up with some resentment at the table.

Commission Free Pai Gow Poker Games At Live Casinos in Singapore

On banker wins, live casinos in Singapore frequently do not charge the 5% fee. They earn only from the banker’s advantage and side bets. The banker has a 1.30 percent edge with no commission, while all others playing against the banker have a 1.30 percent disadvantage.

Still, some online casinos do charge a 5% commission. Pai Gow Poker winnings trigger a 5% house fee across the board, in addition to the odds and house edge. The dealer will take this amount from whatever compensation a player receives after winning.

For example, $100 in winnings less 5% commission equals $95 total compensation.

In Pai Gow, what is the bonus bet?

The house makes more money on bonus bets (Fortune bonus, etc.) than it does on the fee it charges in Pai Gow. Pai Gow bonus bets add excitement to the game and bring the prospect of large payouts. Nevertheless, if you want to beat Pai Gow, avoid placing them.

Playing Bonus or Fortune Pai Gow allows you to stake an extra bet on the Bonus. Furthermore, you can win up to 8000 times your stake if you wager on the bonus. That is if your seven cards contain a bonus hand (Straight or above).

The payouts are big. However, it does not come anywhere near the odds against it, so the house edge is substantial.

This will not suit low and medium-risk Singaporean players. The Bonus bet, on the other hand, offers a lot of fun and excitement to the game if you are a high roller who is willing to take a chance.

Pai Gow Poker Strategy FAQs:

In Pai Gow Poker, what does the Joker mean?

Instead of serving as a wild card, the joker in Pai Gow is referred to as a “bug”. The Joker acts like an Ace until you can use it to complete a straight or flush. This also implies that you may have a five-card hand with five aces, which is the strongest five-card hand in Pai Gow.

What is an envy bet in Pai Gow Poker?

Furthermore, if another player has a four-of-a-kind or better, the player who placed the fortune bet will receive an envy bonus. The envy bonus is a bonus given when other players at the table make a certain paytable hand. A minimum of $5 must be wagered on the fortune bonus to qualify for the envy bonus.

How many decks are used in Pai Gow?

Fortune Pai Gow Poker is played with a standard 52 card deck plus a joker for a total of 53 cards. A joker can be utilized to complete a straight or flush or as an ace.

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