Pai Gow Poker

This is a casino gambling game based on the Chinese Domino game Pai Gow but played with poker combinations. It can be played by up to seven players.

A pack of 52 cards plus one joker is used. The joker is a wild card which can be used only as an ace, or to complete a straight, a flush or a straight flush.

On each deal the dealer plays against the other players. Before the deal, each of the other players puts up a stake.

Seven cards are dealt to each player. All players other than the dealer look at their cards and divide them to form two hands - a two card hand and a five card hand. The relative values of the five card hands are the same as in poker, with one exception: A-2-3-4-5 is the second highest type of straight or straight flush, ranking between A-K-Q-J-10 and K-Q-J-10-9. Five aces is the highest hand, beating a straight flush. For the two card hand, any pair beats any two unmatched cards, but no other combinations are possible.

The player must arrange the cards so that the five card hand is higher than the two card hand (so if the two cards were a pair of aces, the five card hand would have to contain two pairs or better). Players are not allowed to discuss their hands at any stage.

The players place their two hands face down, and when all are ready, the dealer's seven cards are exposed. The other players may not touch their cards from this point on. The dealer forms the seven exposed cards into a five and a two in the same way as the players.

Then all the players' cards are exposed. The result between the dealer and each player is determined by comparing the player's 5 card hand with the dealer's 5 card hand and the player's 2 card hand with the dealer's 2 card hand:

  1. If the player wins both hands the dealer pays out the amount staked by the player.
  2. If the dealer wins one hand and the player wins the other no money changes hands. This is called a "push".
  3. If the dealer wins both hands the dealer wins the player's stake.

If either hand is tied, the dealer wins that particular hand. So if the dealer wins one hand while the other is tied, or if both hands are tied, the dealer wins. If one hand is tied and the player wins the other it is a push (no money changes hands).

Note on the deal
When this game is played formally, a rather elaborate method of dealing is used. Seven hands of seven cards are dealt, one card at a time, and the remaining four cards are discarded unseen. The dealer then throws three dice and counts around the players at the table counter-clockwise, starting with himself, up to the dice total to determine who gets the first hand which was dealt. The following hands go to the other players, in counter-clockwise rotation.
Dealer's advantage
The dealer obviously has an advantage (winning tied hands), so if you want the game to be fair everyone has to deal an equal number of times during the session.

For another description, see the Pai Gow Poker FAQ of the newsgroup rec.gambling.misc

The Casino-info.com site has a page of Pai Gow Poker rules and strategy.

Wendel P. Kwan's Play Pai Gow site has Pai Gow Poker rules, advice on how to play, and links to online Pai Gow Poker sites.

Sancho's Video Casino includes a Pai Gow Poker game.

Casino Games Simulation has a Java version of Pai Gow Poker which can be played on line for fun or practice.

The Pai Gow Poker section of the Casino Advisor web site has Pai Gow Poker rules and advice.