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Many of you have played Pai Gow Poker at the best online casinos, but are you playing with a proper strategy? Despite the claim that Pai Gow Poker is a game of luck, there are strategies that you can use to improve your odds of winning.

Today, we will look at the basic strategy for playing your hands in Pai Gow Poker. Note that this strategy is based on you playing your hands as the player. It does not account for live Pai Gow games where you can play as the banker.

Playing Uncordinated Hands

There are going to be many times where you will receive a hand that’s completely uncoordinated. With these hands, you don’t have as much as a pair for either hand. When this happens, you have to play two high card hands and hope that the dealer has a bad low hand.

First, you will take your highest card and add your four lowest cards together. This is your high hand. You’ll take your second and third highest cards to make your low hand. For example, if you have A-K-J-9-7-5-2, you’d play A-9-7-5-2 for high and K-J for low.

One Pair Hands

Another common hand is where you only have a single pair and nothing else in your hand. In this case, the pair will be your high hand. Take your two highest kickers and play them as your low hand. For example, if you have A-Q-10-8-8-6-2, you’d play A-Q for low and 8-8-10-6-2 for high.

Pai Gow Poker Pair Winner

One pair hands are scoop capable when you have a medium pair and at least one card of queen or higher in your low hand.

Two Pair Hands

The hands that will be the trickiest to play in Pai Gow Poker are hands with two pair. That’s because you’re often going to split your pair. Splitting pairs is where most people get tripped up in this game.

First, let’s look at the three types of pairs. Low pairs are deuces through sixes. Medium pairs are sevens through tens. High pairs are jacks or better.

Here are the times where you will be splitting two pair, regardless of what your other cards are:

  • Anytime one of your two pairs is aces.
  • When you have two high pair.
  • When you have one medium and one high pair.

Pai Gow Poker Pair Split

In the following scenarios, you will also split two pair provided you do not have an ace in your hand:

  • One low pair and one high pair.
  • One Low pair and one medium pair.
  • Two low pairs.
  • Two medium pairs.

In all other cases where you have two pair and an ace in your hand, you will play your ace and the second-highest non-pairing card as your low hand and the two pair for high.

Playing Trips in Pai Gow Poker

Playing trips, aka three of a kind, is easy in this game. In most cases, you will play trips for your high hand and your two highest kickers for the low hand. The only exception is when you have trip aces. In this case, you will split the trips and play one ace as part of your low hand.

Flushes and Straights

Hands with a straight or flush are usually going to play themselves. In the majority of cases, you’ll play the straight or flush as the high hand. For the times where you have a seven-card straight or a seven-card flush, you will play the two highest cards as your low hand.

Pai Gow Poker Straight

The one exception for playing a flush is when you have a flush along with two pair. When this happens, you’re going to break the flush and split the pair according to the rules for splitting pairs.

Quads

You might be tempted to automatically play quads (four of a kind) as a high hand, but that’s not the case. When you have quad jacks or better, you’re splitting the hand into two pair. The same applies to medium quads, provided that you don’t have an ace in your hand. If you do, you will play the quads. For low quads, you will play them together.

Five Aces

As counterintuitive as it sounds, you’re almost never going to play five aces together. Instead, one ace and the joker will become your low hand and you’ll play trip aces for high.

The exception to this rule is when you have a pair of kings and five aces. Then, you’ll play the kings for low and five aces for high.

This Strategy Helps, But Not By Much

The above strategy is a great strategy to use to help improve your odds at winning in games where the dealer is always the banker. This applies to most Pai Gow Poker games at real money online casinos. However, the edge you gain with this strategy isn’t massive. It only improves your odds by about 0.21%. The general house edge when using this strategy is around 2.5%

Where this strategy helps is in games where the player is the banker. In those games, the house edge is reduced down to less than a half of a percent. However, you will find few online Pai Gow games offering player banking. However, it is still great to know when you play in live Pai Gow Poker games.

About the Author
James Guill avatar
James Guill

James Guill is a veteran of the gambling media industry. James started his career as a semi-professional poker player, traveling the US to play tournament poker. In 2008, he transitioned to the media side. Since that time, James has worked for many established brands, including PokerNews, OnGame, Bwin, CardPlayer Lifestyle, Poker Junkie, and Ivey Poker. He also wrote for PokerNews Australia and once had his work featured on G4’s Attack of the Show.

James has a wealth of gambling knowledge and can write on most topics. He also keeps an eye on the growing Bitcoin gambling market and is a HODLer of BTC and several top altcoins. Check out James’ Game of the Week feature, covering the latest and greatest online slot games. James is also a part-time picker, traveling around Virginia looking for deals to flip.

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James Guill is a veteran of the gambling media industry. James started his career as a semi-professional poker player, traveling the US to play tournament poker. In 2008, he transitioned to the media side. Since that time, James has worked for many established brands, including PokerNews, OnGame, Bwin, CardPlayer Lifestyle, Poker Junkie, and Ivey Poker. He also wrote for PokerNews Australia and once had his work featured on G4’s Attack of the Show.

James has a wealth of gambling knowledge and can write on most topics. He also keeps an eye on the growing Bitcoin gambling market and is a HODLer of BTC and several top altcoins. Check out James’ Game of the Week feature, covering the latest and greatest online slot games. James is also a part-time picker, traveling around Virginia looking for deals to flip.

READ MORE
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