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Description and Objective

Pai Gow Poker is a card game played with a 53-card deck consisting of a standard deck of 52 cards plus one Joker. In this version of Pai Gow Poker, the banker (or house) always plays as the dealer and covers all bets, and the player only competes against the dealer. The player receives seven cards, which must then be “set” or split into two poker hands: a five-card hand and a two-card hand. Once split, the player’s two hands are compared with the dealer’s two hands to determine the winner.

The bank pays the winner—minus a 5% commission—and the game ends. The commission is 5% of the bet and is rounded up to the next quarter. For example, a minimum bet of $6 would be a commission of 50 cents. (5% of $6 = 30 cents, but since the commission is rounded up to the next 25 cents; the commission is actually 50 cents. 5% of $11 = 55 cents, which makes the actual commission 75 cents.)

Game Play

The Deal

For each game, the dealer shuffles the deck and deals out seven cards into each hand—the dealer’s cards remain unknown. The player must then “set” or split their seven cards into two poker hands: a five-card hand and a two-card hand.

Splitting cards and rules on the Joker

Pai Gow Poker places only one restriction upon splitting the initial seven cards: the five-card hand must have a higher poker rank than the two-card hand. The only other twist during the game is how to play the Joker. The Joker can be used to complete a five-card flush, straight, or straight flush. Otherwise, the Joker counts as an ace.

Ranking the Hands

The hands are ranked according to standard poker rules with one exception: the Ace-2-3-4-5 straight is the second highest straight. Straights rank, from highest to lowest: Ace-K-Q-J-10, Ace-2-3-4-5, K-Q-J-10-9 … 6-5-4-3-2. Also, keep in mind that the best two-card hand is a pair of aces; the two-card hand cannot have a flush (since a flush requires five cards).

Hand Name

Five of a Kind
4 aces plus the Joker
AS, AH, AD, AC, Joker

Royal Flush
10, J, Q, K, A of same suit
10H, JH, QH, KH, AH

Straight Flush
In sequence, 5 cards of same suit
3S, 4S, 5S, 6S, 7S

Four of a Kind
4 cards of same rank
6D, 6S, 6C, 6H

Full House
3 of a kind, plus a pair
2H, 2D, 2S, 3H, 3S

5 cards of same suit
2D, 4D, 6D, 8D, 9D,

5 cards in sequence
3H, 4C, 5H, 6S, 7D

Three of a Kind
3 cards of same rank
7H, 7S, 7D

Two Pair
2 pairs of different rank
4H, 4S, 6D, 6S

One Pair
1 pair (2 cards) of same rank

High Card
5 cards of different ranks and suits
AH, KS, 10D, 5C, 2

Determining the Winner

The player’s two hands are compared with the dealer’s two hands to determine the winner. If both the player’s five-card hand and two-card hand has a higher poker rank than both the dealer’s hands (5 cards and 2 cards), the player wins. If both of the dealer’s hands beat both of the player’s hands, the dealer wins. If either the player or the dealer wins only one of the two hands, the game is a push and neither the dealer nor the player wins. When either the five-card hands or the two-card hands rank exactly the same, the equal hands are called “copies” of each other. The dealer wins all copy hands. For example, if the player beats the dealer in the five-card hand but copies the dealer with the two-card hand, the game is a push.

The Payout

When the player’s two hands beat the dealer’s two hands, the player wins an amount equal to the original bet minus a 5% commission. The commission is 5% of the bet and is rounded up to the next quarter as described above.

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Button Descriptions


Clicking on the deal button after placing the initial bet starts a new game.


Click on two cards to select them.

To better see all possible ways to split the initial seven cards, re-arrange the hand by dragging cards to different locations. Automatically, cards are initially sorted from highest to lowest.

After selecting two cards to place into the two-card hand, clicking the split button arranges the seven cards into two hands—a five-card hand and a two-card hand—and continues the game.

Pai Gow Poker Differences – Physical vs. Online

Players may play more than one hand when sitting at a Pai Gow table with fewer players than hands. The extra hands are called “dragon” hands.

The player may play only one hand; dragon hands are not supported.

A player may choose to be the banker and must cover all winning bets.

The dealer is always the banker.

Splitting the seven-card hand incorrectly so the two-card hand has a higher poker rank than the five-card hand forfeits the game.

The player may re-split the hand. The game only continues when the five-card hand has a higher poker rank than the two-card hand.

The player can ask the house for help when deciding how to split the hand. The house would then show how it would split the hand.

The online version does not support asking the house for help.


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