Pai Gow is a fun Westernized version of an old Chinese dominos game. The basic game play is straightforward enough and it is popular in casinos because the relaxed atmosphere of the game gives players a chance to get to know each other.
Each of the seven players places a bet and are then dealt seven cards each. In addition to the 52 cards in the pack there is a joker that can be used either as an ace or to complete a straight or a flush. Players must form the cards into two hands, a five card hand and a two card hand. The hands themselves are almost exactly the same as those in poker. One player acts as banker although often the default is the dealer. Incidentally, seven hands are always dealt out even if there are less players at the table.
The object of the game is to beat both the banker’s five card hand and two card hand. If you only beat one of the banker’s hands then it is a tie, called a copy, and the banker wins the hand. In many online casino’s the casino is always the banker, but you should check this and always try to be banker if possible because of course it means you can win any copy hands.
The real strategy in Pai Gow is knowing how best to arrange your cards so that you have the strongest hand. Putting cards into your five card hand is known as ‘five-carding’ and likewise, putting cards into your two card hand is called ‘two-carding’.
You do not always want to put all of your strongest cards into either your five-hand or your two-hand if it means weakening the other hand too much. Most of the time it should be apparent what is the best way to arrange your cards but there are some common mistakes made.
The most frequent mistakes occur when players have two pairs. The best way to divide up or unite your pairs depends on the cards that you have. You will usually want to split the pairs by two-carding the lower pair if you have a paid of aces or your lower pair is made up of cards worth 10 or more.
There are however exceptions to this rule and here are some of the more notable circumstances when you want to play your pairs together in the five-hand:If your high pair is 3s to 6s and you have an ace, kind, or queen, then five-card your pairs play the high single card in your two-hand.
If your pairs are 6s to 9s and you have an ace or a king then you should also five-card your pairs.Finally, if your high pair is 10s to queens and you have an ace then you should also five-card your pairs and two card your ace.In all other circumstances you should five-card you high pair and play the low pair in your two-hand.