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Pai Gow Poker Strategy

Here are some simple pai gow poker strategies to get you started on the following seven-card Pai Gow Poker hands:

High Card: Use the second and third highest cards for your two-card hand, using the five remaining cards for your five-card hand.

air: Use the pair in the five card hand and the remaining two highest cards as you two-card hand. Use this method with a hand that does not have a straight or a flush.

Two pair: Use the lowest pair in the two card hand and the highest pair in the five card hand.

Three pair: Use the two lowest ranked pairs in the five-card hand and the highest pair in the two card hand.

Three-of-a-kind: If your three-of-a-kind is queens or lower use them in you five card hand. For aces or kings use two of them in your five card hand and the third in your two card hand.

Straights, straight flushes and flushes: Use these cards in your five card hand and your remaining two cards as your two card hand,

Full house: Use the three-of-a-kind in your five card hand and the pair as your two-card hand.

Four-of-a-kind: Use one pair in each hand, unless your four-of-a-kind is two’s through six’s. In this case you will use them in the five-card hand, with the two highest-ranked of the remaining three cards as the two-card hand.

Remember you can always ask the dealer for help, if you’re uncertain about how to set your hand. Dealers have a set pai gow poker strategy for setting their own hands and they will be happy to share it with you and help you arrange your seven cards into the five-card hand and two-card hand with the best chance of winning.

Banking Decision.

Banking the game means that the player is prepared to cover all the other players’ bets for the next round of play and there are decisions to make as the banker. The bank will rotate from player to player should there be more than one player who wishes to be banker. When you are acting as the banker it does not mean that you are actually dealing the cards (the dealer still deals), it means that you are prepared to cover all the bets on the next round. Should the players collectively bet more money than you (as the banker) have in front of you, you pay them off in turn, paying counter-clockwise, until your money runs out; the remaining hands are then declared as no-play hands and the bets are returned to the players. In most casinos you will not be able to bank every hand; the usual policy is every other hand if no other players wish to bank. If you are interested in banking, ask your dealer for the policy of the casino.

Some gambling writers say that it is possible to achieve a small advantage over the casino in Pai Gow Poker. This advantage is almost negligible, as it so small, but to complete your understanding of Pai Gow Poker, lets describe how this edge might be achieved.

If we disregarding the rake, the banker has an advantage over the player of a little over 1 percent of the time. Therefore our first step to achieving this small advantage is to be the banker as often as you can to gather this 1 percent edge. If there are no other players who wish to act as banker, the casino will usually let you bank every other hand. Another factor that will affect your advantage is the bet size. When you’re banking and you have the advantage, you want the other players to bet high. But, when you’re the player and the house or another player is the banker, bet small because now you’re playing with the disadvantage.

Keep in mind that on any winnings as the banker you have to pay a commission or rake, which will lower the advantage you achieve as banker. In all honesty the best that you can hope for, depending on the ratio of your small bet when playing as a player to your hoped-for larger bet sizes of player betting against you as banker, is to break even. In other words, as banker, the money you win on tie or “copy” bets is just about offset by the rake you pay on each winning bet you collect. Your real advantage comes from your superiority over the other players of setting your five card and a two card hands. If you’re banking against less skillful players, you’re looking at a possible edge of under 0.5 percent, probably less than that or maybe zero if the other players use optimal strategies for setting their hands.

Not enough to really get excited about, but there you have it. I recommend playing Pai Gow as a diversion from your more serious games and of course to have a little fun.

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