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Pai Gow Poker Rules and Gameplay
Pai Gow Poker is the American version of a Chinese dominoes game also named Pai Gow. The game itself is simple and quick to learn for anyone who plays poker.
Flash Game Instructions: Click on a chip amount at the bottom, then click the left betting circle of the middle seat. Once your bet is set, click the deal button to deal the cards. Seperate the high and the low hand, then click done to match for a winner. To remove chips from being bet, right click on the chip in play. Click deal to re-bet and play another hand.
Just like most other table games, Pai Gow begins with the player placing a bet before receiving any cards. This is the only bet you will make for the duration of the hand and it must be within the minimum and maximum betting limits of the table.
Each player (typically there will be 6 players and one dealer) receives 7 cards from the 53-card deck (52 cards plus one joker).
The four remaining cards are left face down as a muck pile.
Arranging Your Hand
It's your job to arrange your cards into two poker hands. The back hand (or the big hand) is a standard 5-card poker hand. The front hand (or the small hand) is made up of just two cards and can only be two high cards or a pair.
If you were dealt the joker it can be used to substitute for any rank to complete a straight or any suit to complete a flush. If it can't be used for either of those, the joker will always be an ace. In the two-card hand a joker is always an ace.
The only rule for separating your hands is simple: The five card hand MUST outrank the two card hand.
As you can see the big hand has a pair while the small hand has only ace high. Doing it the other way around (putting the two 8s in the small hand) would not be allowed since the small hand would outrank the big hand.
Determining a Winner
Once all hands are set, you must compare your two hands to the corresponding two hands of the dealer. If both of your hands are better than both of the dealer hands, you make 1:1 on your bet.
If only one of your hands is better than the dealer's, it's a push.
If both your hands are worse than the dealers, you lose your bet.
Because you can't lose your money if just one of your hands is better than the dealer, it's common strategy to split your hand in a way which gives you the strongest possible two-card hand (without outranking your five-card hand).
The exception to this strategy is if you're able to make a very strong five-card hand, such as a straight or better. In that scenario your five-card hand is almost sure to be a winner, allowing you to freeroll on any two card hand you play.
When separating hands with no pairs, the commonly accepted method is to leave the highest-ranked card in the back hand, putting the second two largest ranking cards in the front, making it as strong as possible without outranking the back hand.