Here at Slots Play Casinos, we have learned that after gamers have played video poker and are looking for another great online casino poker variation, many discover Pai Gow Poker. This is a fascinating poker alternative. Some of the strategy in Pai Gow appears to be counter-intuitive at first. It is a tribute to the imaginative nature of Pai Gow Poker online that what seems odd strategically becomes relevant and logical upon further analysis.
Players have different reasons for why they like to play Pai Gow Poker. Two are the very things we have just mentioned: that Pai Gow Poker is a unique alternative to other forms of poker and that the game requires close analysis and attention to detail on every hand.
What are Pai Gow Poker Rules?
There are actually two sets of Pai Gow Poker rules! One set is for the player and the other set is for the dealer.
Playing Pai Gow Poker looks so simple at first: both the player and the dealer receive seven cards. Both player and dealer have to create two hands from these seven cards. One hand will be of five cards and one hand will be of two cards.
At one time it was traditional at land-based casinos for the dealer to deal the cards in the form of a dragon with a body plus a head and tail. This was because of the Chinese origin of the game.
The first essential rule in Pai Gow Poker is that the big hand (the five-card hand) has to beat the small hand.
This is Easier Said than Done!
Players of Pai Gow Poker often have a powerful big hand but they have to break it up because of rule number two: In order to win their bet a gamer has to win both the big hand and the small hand!
Ties Go to the Dealer
This rule actually sets the tone in Pai Gow Poker as the player is trying to create two hands that will beat both of the dealer’s two hands.
The Joker is Wild
There is also a joker in Pai Gow Poker. The joker can be used only to complete a straight or a flush. Obviously, that includes a straight flush.
Why is Strategy in Pai Gow Poker Difficult?
Strategy is strange because of the rules as we stated. If you have three pairs dealt to you, the natural inclination would be to use the two highest pairs as your big hand. Instead, you should usually use the highest pair as your small hand and the two lower-ranked pairs in the big hand.
Pai Gow Poker is Unconventional Poker
Pai Gow Poker does follow conventional poker rules as far as hand ranks are concerned but the idea of forming two hands is almost unique to Pai Gow Poker. The great game Omaha Hi-Low does also create two hands, a high hand and a low hand, and that presents difficulties for gamers as well!
Many players fail to realize at first that the best small Pai Gow Poker hand is a pair of aces. So they want to use the pair of aces to win the big hand when it is a near guarantee to win the small hand!
In short, setting poker hands in Pai Gow Poker is quite different than setting poker hands in any other poker variation!
Here are a few strategy ideas that have not yet been fully verified by computer analysis!
- If you don’t have as much as a pair, which obviously includes three of a kind, and no flush or straight, the idea is to make the hands as strong as possible. We do that by putting the highest card as the lead in the big hand and the next two highest cards as the small hand.
- Two pair creates subtle nuances. If the higher pair is aces, play the aces in the big hand and the other pair as the small hand.
- If the higher pair is not aces, you will probably split them but not if you also have a pair of deuces.
- Another subtlety is when you have two pair and a singleton ace. With an ace, it is often good to use the ace in the small hand with the two pair as the big hand.
- Play three of a kind unless the trips are aces. Then it is considered better to play a pair of aces high and the third ace as the lead in the small hand.
- Most strategists suggest splitting a full house.
- There is no concrete strategy for straights and flushes. Some say that if the straight also has two pair or aces or other possible winning combinations, it might be better to break up a straight or a flush.
- Believe it or not, this also applies to a royal flush!
The Dealer’s Hand is Set by “House Way”
No land-based casino wants a Pai Gow Poker dealer to spend a lot of time trying to create a good hand. This would lead to playing by hunch. It might also be somewhat unfair as there are likely many tells in Pai Gow Poker as there are in standard head-to-head poker.
Even worse, from the land-based casino’s point of view is that if the dealer spends too much time setting up his or her hand, there will be fewer hands per hour and the casino needs as many hands per hour as possible!
So, a method has been established to direct the dealer in setting up her or his hand. This method is called “House Way”. In most land-based casinos, a player can ask the dealer to arrange his or her cards in the “House Way”!
Pai Gow Poker Side Bets
Here at Slots Play Casinos, we frown upon gamers making side bets. We totally understand the attraction of side bets but we also know that in most cases a side bet plays directly into the house’s hand.
Whatever the return to player rate in the conventional games is, by placing a side bet in most casino games reduces the return to player rate dramatically.
Where Should a Gamer Play Pai Gow Poker?
We fully recommend playing Pai Gow Poker online at a reputable casino. We see the game as a diversion from any other game you might be playing. As a diversion, it is also one of the most interesting poker variations and it has elements that can help gamers play other games of skill well and also can help people in general in their work lives.
While many, if not most, land-based casinos do not have room for Pai Gow Poker, almost every good online casino, such as the ones we recommend, can be considered a Pai Gow Poker casino
How Does Pai Gow Poker Help People at Work?
By its nature, Pai Gow Poker leads to out of the box thinking. The same can be said about video poker and standard head to head poker but it does not really apply to blackjack or baccarat and certainly not to slots!
Slots Play Casinos Has an Ear to the Ground
We heard that a lot of readers were confused as to how to play Pai Gow Poker. Ergo, this article. Come to SLOTS PLAY CASINOS often for top online casino gaming reports.