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Pai Gow Poker Rules

Pai Gow Poker combines elements of the ancient Chinese game of Pai Gow and the American game of poker. It is played with a traditional deck of 52 playing cards, plus one joker. The joker can be used only as an Ace, or to complete a straight, flush or a straight flush.

Each player at the table is dealt seven cards which he then arranges to make two hands: A two-card hand and a five-card hand. Rankings are based on basic poker rankings. Thus, the highest two-card hand would be two Aces, and the highest five-card hand would be a Royal Flush.

This part is very important: The five-card hand must be higher than the two-card hand. For example, if the two card hand is a pair of sevens, the five card hand must contain at least a pair of eights or higher. If the player sets the hands so that the two card hand is higher than the five card hand, it is an automatic losing hand. If you need help with this, just ask the dealer. Most are more than happy to help you place your hand.

The object of the game is for both of the player's two hands to rank higher than both of the Banker's two hands. The Player's two-card (low) hand must rank higher than the Banker's two-card (low) hand, and the Player's five-card (high) hand must rank higher than the Banker's five-card (high) hand. Should one hand rank exactly the same as the Banker's hand, this is a tie. The Banker wins all ties.

If the player wins one hand, but loses the other, this is considered a "push" (tie). In "push" hands, no money exchanges hands.

Winning hands are paid even money, less a 5% commission. Losing hands lose the money wagered.

Play of the game is as follows: The dealer shuffles the cards and deals seven hands of seven cards each, face down in front of the dealer's tray. The dealer checks that exactly four cards are left over, then places those cards in the discard holder.

The house dealer or any player may be the Banker. All players bet against the Bank. (The Bank is offered to each player and each player may accept or pass, in which case the Bank is offered to the next player. The dealer will always take Bank in turn, then all players are again offered the Bank until the dealer banks again.) The Banker will be identified by a white plastic square.

A dice cup containing three dice is shaken by the banker to determine who receives the first hand. (Before the dice are uncovered, all bets must be in the betting circle.) In Pai Gow, the Banker's position is always 1, 8 or 15.   The dealer counts from the Banker's position. The cards will then be placed by the dealer in front of each player (including the dealer) in a clockwise rotation from the starting point indicated by the dice.

Each player then arranges his cards into a two-card low and and a five-card high hand as described above. The house dealer does not look at the cards until all players and the player/Banker have set their hands in the designated spaces face down. The house dealer then turns his cards over and sets his hand in front of the tray face up.

The player/Banker's hand is compared to the house dealer's hand first.

Winning hands are left lying face up next to the betting circle. For losing hands, the wager is picked up by the dealer and the cards are placed in the discard holder. Losing wagers are set in the center of the layout. If the player wins one hand and loses the other, this is considered a "push". No money exchanges hands and the cards are placed in the discard holder.

Remember the following rules:

1. Once the Banker exposes his cards, the players cannot touch theirs.

2. Players are not allowed to show their hands or talk to the other players about their hands before all cards are exposed.

3. Any player's hand that is set incorrectly, that is the two-card low hand ranks higher than the five-card high hand, or the player puts 3 cards in the low hand and four cards in the high hand, is an automatic loser. Players are responsible for arranging their own hand correctly and should do so with care.

4. The house collects 5% commission on all winning hands.

Need more help? Visit the Poker Books page.

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