Pai Gow Poker
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Pai Gow Poker is a variation of the ancient Chinese game of dominoes, Pai Gow, that is now played with cards.

Pai Gow Poker: Getting to Know the Game


Pai Gow is a famous Chinese gambling game. It is often played in casinos and bars with a set of 32 Chinese Dominoes. Dominoes are bone tiles and are used in several other tile games too. Although  a popular game in China, the game is widely played in other countries as well like the United States, Canada, Australia, and New Zealand.

online pai gow poker tableThe game was originally introduced in the United States by Sam Torosian in 1985. He was the owner of a very renowned club known by the name Bell Card Club.  He got the idea of the game from yet another popular game known as Pusoy, but before he knew, it was already being played in the most famous casinos in Vegas. An interesting story is that the inventor failed to patent the game because he was told by his attorney that it was not possible.

Pai Gow, literally meaning card game, is often used to refer to Pai Gow Poker, a variant of the infamous poker which is loosely based on the lines of Pai Gow.

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Pai Gow Poker Winning

Popularly known as double-hand poker, this variant of Pai Gow is played with a deck of 52 standard playing cards and only one Joker instead of the long-established practice of playing with Chinese dominoes. It is a table game for 6 players plus one dealer. In this, the players play against the dealer and not against each other.

Similar to all the other variations of poker, the game starts by placing a bet before the cards are dealt. Unlike other poker games, the players in this game can place one and only one bet throughout the hand. There is a betting limit placed and the players are supposed to bet within the minimum and maximum limits of the game which is normally determined by the dealer. This is done to control the fluctuations of the game. Because of the limits, no person is going to lose beyond a certain amount; however, obviously, this also puts a limit on the amount that a person can win in one hand. In some games, if the dealer desires, the players can also make a bonus bet if they get a premium hand.

This bet can be won even if the players lose the main bet. The higher is the combination in the premium hand, the more the payout. After all the players have placed their bets, the cards are dealt. Each one gets seven cards. Even if all the 6 seats are not filled, the dealers will still distribute the cards i.e., seven cards will be kept at the empty chairs too. The remaining 4 cards are kept face down and called ‘Muck Pile’. The players will now create their Pai Gow Hands.

The ultimate goal in this game is to create two poker hands, one of five cards, popularly known as the Backhand, and the other of two cards, popularly known as the Front Hand, out of the cards dealt with to the participants. The catch is that the hands created by the participants should beat both the hands of the dealer. The backhand should be a higher combination as compared to the front hand i.e., the former should outrank the latter one. When vice-versa happens, i.e., the smaller hand outranks the higher one, it is known as ‘Fouling your Hand’ and as a result, you lose your bet.

As the game is played with 52 cards plus one joker, there are fair chances that one or the other person must have been dealt with the Joker. It can be used as a substitute either to complete a straight, as a suite to complete a flush or if not these two, it will always be treated as an ace. So, simply speaking, if you get that one Joker, the chances of winning increases significantly.

Pai Gow Poker Online

online pai gow pokerAlthough it is a traditional casino game; however, nowadays, just like all the other casino games, even Pai Gow Poker can be played online. There are various online casinos that organize the game with a few variations, of course. The players are charged either a participation fee or a registration fee which is then used as the prize money.  

Also, there are some websites that provide a free play option wherein you don’t have to put in any real money and you can try your luck. It can be used by the players to sharpen their edge and once they feel that they’re competent enough to go on-field, they can go on and start with some real money.

There are various apps available where you can also play the game on mobile.  The game is all about strategy and presence of mind. However, there is a little component of luck involved too with respect to the cards you are dealt with.

Pai Gow Poker Variants

Pai Gow Poker has been through many stages of development and as a result, various variations of the game have emerged, the most popular being Pai Gow Mania. The other ones are Fortune Pai Gow, Emperors Challenge, Progressive Fortune Pai Gow and many others.

Check out the best online casinos to play pai gow poker! 

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