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Pai Gow Poker Strategy

Pai Gow Poker GamePai Gow Poker is a game that has a 2.5% house advantage, except when the player has a chance to deal - then the odds are just about even!

The best strategy for Pai Gow Poker is to play "the house way"; splitting cards in the same way that the house does, while also taking advantage of opportunities to be the banker as much as possible. Being the banker reduces the house edge to around 1.25% and those are far better odds for the player!

The house way is based on how the house arranges cards - which in turn effects the way the dealer splits 7 cards into the best 2 hands while still following Pai Gow rules.

Here are some tips, strategy and tricks about arranging cards in Pai Gow Poker:

  • When you don't have a pair - in the 5 card hand, use the highest card; and in the 2 card hand use the next 2 highest cards
  • When you have 1 pair - put the pair in the 5 card hand, and in the 2 card and use the next 2 highest cards
  • When you have 2 pairs (aces and any other pair) - split face card pair if it has 6's or higher into 2 separate hands, but keep the pairs in the hands together unless it has an ace
  • When you have 3 pairs - highest pair should be played in the 2 card hand
  • When you have three of a kind - put the three of a kind in the 5 card hand, but break up three Aces if you have them into both hands
  • When you have 2 three of a kinds - in the 5 card hand, play the lowest three of a kind, and split the higher three of a kind
  • When you have a straight - use the straight in the 5 card hand
  • When you have a 6 card straight - in the 2 card hand use the highest card and the rest in the 5 card hand
  • When you have a 5 of 6 card straight with a pair - play it like 2 pairs
  • When you have a flush - play the flush in the 4 card and
  • When you have a 6 card flush - in the 2 card hand, use the highest card and play the rest of the flush in the 5 card hand
  • When you have a 5 or 6 card flush and a pair - the pair should be played in the 2 card hand, and the rest of the flush in the 5 card hand
  • When you have a flush and 2 pair - use the 2 pair strategy
  • When you have a straight and a flush or a flush and straight with no pair - make sure you have the highest 2 card hand no matter how you work it out!
  • When you have a full house split - unless your hand has a pair of 2's, King and Ace, play the pair in the 2 card hand
  • When you have a 4 of a kind - there are different rules for playing the 4 of a kind, see below for the 4 of a kind rules:

Pai Gow Poker StrategyFour of a Kind Rules (based on rank)

  • When you have cards 2 through six - keep together
  • When you have cards 7 through 10 - always split unless an Ace and Face card can be played in 2 card hand
  • When you have a Jack through King - unless you have a pair of 10's or higher, split the cards
  • When you have Aces - unless you have a pair of 7's or higher to play in the 2 card hand, split them
  • When you have a straight flush - use it in the 5 card hand
  • When you have 2 pairs 10's or higher, or aces - spit them
  • When you have 2 pair with any other cards and ace - play the ace in the 2 card hand and make the 5 card hand high
  • When you have a royal flush - use it as the 5 card hand
  • When you have a royal flush with a pair - the pair should be used in the 2 card hand
  • When you have 5 aces - split unless you have Kings to play in the 2 card hand

See also:

Video Poker History

3 Card Poker Strategy