Pai Gow Poker is an Americanized version of an ancient Chinese domino game. The game is played with a 53-card deck which includes all standard cards plus one joker. It is played at a table in casinos with up to six players and one dealer. All spots are dealt to—even when there are no players sitting in all positions. Each player is dealt seven cards to start and he or she must make two hands—one five-card hand and one two-card hand. The goal is for both of your hands to beat both of the dealer’s hands; that is a win and you are paid on your bet. If one hand wins and one loses, that is a push and you keep your bet. Finally, if you lose both hands, the house keeps your bet. The five card hand goes in “standard poker value” while the two card hand only pairs or high cards play.

Basic Strategy

There is a standard manner of play, called the house way, which is important to understand if you want to have the best success. One thing you must always remember is that the five card hand must be “higher” than the two-card hand. Therefore, if you are dealt one pair and no other “wins” you would put the pair in your five-card hand and your two highest remaining cards in your two-card hand. If you have a straight or flush, you would “generally” put that in the five-card hand and the other two cards in the two-card hand. However, this could vary if you had pairs as well. It can also be tricky to decide when to split two-pair or leave them together.


  • The Joker is not a true wild card – it can only be used to complete a straight or flush (or straight flush). Otherwise it is counted as an Ace.
  • If you are playing in a live casino, you can ask the dealer to help you set your hand “the house way.” Additionally, this is one of the few casino games where it is permissible to ask for assistance from other players at the table.
  • Remember, you want to win both hands, so you may have to split a “big hand” to get a win.
  • Spend some time learning what the “house way” is and consider basing your strategy off of this.

Play Pai Gow Online

You can play Pai Gow online at Virgin Casino. This is a great option for those who love the game and can’t make it to a live casino—or someone who wants to learn the game in a non-threatening, online environment. This version of Pai Gow follows all standard rules and has a bonus bet option to increase your chances to win big. This version has excellent graphics and is a fun way to enjoy Pai Gow from the comfort of your home.

By Maya