Pai Gow Poker is a good game for budget gamblers. It moves at a fairly slow pace and it requires a specific set of circumstances for the player to actually lose. Many hands in Pai Gow end up in ties.
This isn’t the best game for action junkies, but it’s a lot of fun nonetheless. The basic idea is that you are dealt 7 cards and must arrange those cards into two different hands. One of those hands is a standard 5 card poker hand and the other is a 2 card poker hand.
There are only two circumstances in which you lose money in Pai Gow Poker. One is when both of the dealer’s hands beat both of your hands. The other is when one of the dealer’s hands beats one of your hands and the other hand is a tie.
You win in Pai Gow Poker if both of your hands beat both of the dealer’s hands. Ties occur when you either tie the dealer with both hands or when you only beat one of the dealer’s hands.
In other words:
- Your 5 card hand AND your 2 card hand beats the dealer: You win
- Your 5 card hand beats the dealer and your 2 card hand loses: Tie
- The dealer beats you with both hands: You lose
- The dealer beats you with one hand AND ties with the other hand: You lose
If you just play a few hands on practice mode, you’ll get the hang of the game pretty quickly. It uses standard poker hand rankings to determine the winners and losers. After you get the idea, you can make the switch to real money play.
Where to Play for Real Money
Real money Pai Gow Poker is fairly common on the internet. There are a few casinos that don’t offer the game, but most casinos include it. The main thing to consider when choosing a place to play is the safety of your funds. Stick with online casinos that are backed by longstanding reputations.
The Best US Pai Gow Poker Casinos for 2016
|Rank||Gambling Site||New Player Bonus||Visit Site|
|1.||Bovada Casino||100% up to $3000||Play Now|
|2.||Wild Casino||100% up to $5000||Play Now|
|3.||Ignition Casino||100% up to $2000||Play Now|
|4.||BetUS Casino||125% up to $3125||Play Now|
|5.||Las Atlantis Casino||280% up to $14000||Play Now|
|6.||Slots.lv Casino||300% up to $5000||Play Now|
|7.||Café Casino||500% up to $5000||Play Now|
|8.||Lucky Red Casino||400% up to $4000||Play Now|
|9.||BetOnline Casino||100% up to $3000||Play Now|
|10.||Buzzluck Casino||250% + $75 Free on Bitcoin deposits||Play Now|
The minimum bet for a single hand of real money Pai Gow Poker starts out at $1 per hand at most places. I checked with WinPalace just a few minutes ago and saw that they have a minimum wager of $5 per hand. If that’s a little too much, stick with Lucky Red.
The maximum betting limit varies from one casino to the next. If you plan on placing large wagers, take note of the following betting maximums:
- Bovada Maximum Bet: $100
- Grand Maco Maximum Bet: $100
High Stakes Pai Gow
If you have the tolerance for large swings in your bankroll, high stakes Pai Gow poker can be played online for real money. As you can see above, most casinos limit your wager to around $100. However, Sun Palace accepts bets as large as $250 per hand.
This is about as high as it gets online. Vegas casinos might let you wager $5,000 a hand, but you don’t see that often on the internet. However, it pays to remember that Pai Gow Poker moves significantly faster online than it does at a brick-and-mortar casino.
Those $250 wagers may not seem like much to some high rollers, but they do add up quickly. Not only does the software move the game along at a nice clip, but you also don’t have to wait for other players. When you play online, it’s just you and the dealer.
Remember, nothing is guaranteed in gambling. As much as I’d like to tell you otherwise, the simple truth is that you never know what will happen. That’s why they call it gambling and not investing.
Below is a free Pai Gow game that you can play right here. Nothing to download and no forms to sign – just choose a play-money bet and hit the “deal” button. If you can’t see anything (or you are seeing an error message), turn off any ad blockers you may have on your browser.
What I Like About Pai Gow Poker
One of my favorite parts of playing Pai Gow is setting my hands. I don’t know why, but I get a certain sense of satisfaction in setting my 5-card hand and 2-card hands to be as good as possible. It always feels like I have two fairly strong hands by the time I’m done.
That leads me to the next point. With 7 cards to arrange, it’s hard to lose both hands. In most cases, you can set up at least one of your hands to beat the dealer and squeak out a tie at least. You don’t need a big bankroll to spend a few hours playing real money Pai Gow Poker.
Another positive point is that when playing online, you can take as long as you want to make each decision. If you have a strategy guide or some other resource that you like to refer to, you can spend as long as you need looking up each move. On the other hand, you can keep the game moving as quickly as you like because there are no other players getting in the way of the action.
What I Don’t Like
The main problem I have with Pai Gow Poker is that there is no strategy beyond setting your hands. After you set your hands, the rest of the round runs on autopilot. In games like blackjack, you can make more decisions that actually have an impact on the outcome. The more control the player has, the more fun the game is (in my opinion).
It is rare to go on big streaks in either direction. I hate cold streaks as much as the next person, but I really love a big hot streak. It seems like those big streaks don’t happen as often in Pai Gow Poker. They do happen, but just not that often.
Kind of going along that same line of thinking, there aren’t any big jackpots in this game. You don’t have big jackpots like you do in slots or Caribbean Stud. The wins come in slow and steady. Pai Gow poker is sort of like blackjack in that aspect.
Tips for Playing Well
If you play Pai Gow Poker for real money, you might as well implement a little strategy into your game. The main thing I have for you here is to make both of your hands strong. Don’t stack one hand with all the power and leave the other hand to suffer by itself. The most you’ll gain by stacking all the power in one hand is a tie.
For example, let’s say you have a full house. Don’t keep the full house in your 5 card hand. Instead, break it up so that you have 3-of-a-kind in your 5-card hand and a pair in your other hand. This will give you the highest probability of winning both hands and getting a payout.
Remember, Pai Gow poker does not offer special payouts for high rankings hands like video poker or Caribbean Stud. The payouts are the same regardless of what hand you end up with. Thus, it is more important to beat the dealer with both hands than it is to show up with a powerhouse.