What is Pai Gow Poker?

Pai Gow Poker is a low-risk variant of poker, loosely based on the traditional Chinese domino gambling game known as Pai Gow. Pai Gow Poker is played with a 53-card deck, including a joker, which can be used to complete a straight or a flush or, failing that, as an ace. Each player places one, and only one, bet on each hand, subject to table limits, and all the players plat against the same banker, or dealer, hand. Each player is dealt seven cards and must form two hands; a five-card hand, known as the back, big or high hand and a two-card hand, known as the front, small or low hand. Obviously, the only possibilities for the two-card hand are a pair or a high card and the high hand must outrank the low hand, according to standard poker rules.

The object of Pai Gow Poker is to beat the banker on both the high and low hands. If a player does so, he or she has a winning bet at even money, less 5% commission. If a player wins one hand and loses the other, his or her bet pushes and, if he or she loses and/or ties both hands, his or her bet loses. One of the oddities of Pai Gow poker is that, while standard poker rules apply for the most part, the ace-low, or ‘Wheel’, straight is the highest, rather than the lowest, possible straight.