Pai Gow Poker is loosely based on the Chinese game of Pai Gow which is played with 32 dominos. For this casino game, the dominos are replaced by a set of playing cards. There are 53 cards in all (the usual 52 cards plus one joker). In this game, you’re playing against the dealer. If you beat the dealer you win.
Pai Gow Poker is available at online in casinos in New Jersey. The introduction of this game to the online audience has seen its popularity increase. While Pai Gow is tactical, the software will sort the cards into the best hands for you.
This page starts by explaining how Pai Gow Poker works. Then Fortune Pai Gow poker, an online variant from SG Digital is reviewed, including details of the side bet action you can place.
How does Pai Gow Poker work?
Your first decision is to decided how much you’ll bet in Pai Gow Poker. A number of games offer the opportunity for a side bet in addition to the main bet. Having placed your bets, you’ll be dealt seven cards, as will the banker (dealer).
Next, you’ll have to split your hand into a 5-card hand and a 2-card hand. The only rule in this split is that the 2-card hand can’t outrank the 5-card hand.
For example, if you have a pair of Aces and a pair of sevens in your seven cards (and no flushes or straights), you can’t pick the pair of Aces to be your 2-card hand. You can do this yourself, or choose the ‘house way’, where the cards are automatically assigned to each hand by the software.
A joker is also added into the mix. Unlike a joker in other games, this is not completely wild. It can be used to represent any card if you can create a straight or a flush, but aside from that, you can only count the joker as an Ace.
Comparing poker hands
Once you have split your seven cards into a 5-card and a 2-card hand (the banker will do the same with their seven cards), both hands will now be compared with the bankers.
If you are lucky enough to win both hands, you’ll double your stake.
As an example, if you bet $10, you’ll receive the $10 back with an additional $10 on top. If you win one hand, but lose the other, the bet is considered a push and you’ll receive your stake back. If you lose both of the hands, you’ll lose your stake.
If at any time you have a hand that matches the banker’s hand exactly, the banker automatically wins the hand. This is where the house edge comes into play.
How to play Fortune Pai Gow Poker online
Fortune Pai Gow Poker is an online variation, with an added ‘Fortune Bonus’ bet. You will find similar side bets in many brick and mortar casinos.
To play you’ll start by choosing your chip denomination from the colored chips at the bottom of the screen. These range from just 10c, all the way through to $50, and you can move through the chip ranges by using the arrow keys to scroll from left to right.
Click on a denomination and then click again on the white circle in the center of the screen to place your main bet. You can also place a side bet in the green Fortune to the right.
Rebet, undo and clear buttons give you additional options to save time or aid you if you change your mind.
When ready you’ll hit ‘deal’ and both yours and the bankers seven cards will be dealt. You’ll now make the decision on how to split the cards.
The software offers an ‘autosplit’ option which will split the cards in the best way, although you do have the option to override this and choose the cards in the way you want.
It is best to stick to the autosplit, as this will be the best mathematical option possible. To override, you’ll manually click on the cards themselves.
When ready, you’ll hit the split button that will now divide your hand, and the banker’s cards are then revealed and split themselves. At this point you’ll compare hands and know if you’ve been successful.
The side bet option is based on the strength of your 5-card hand. If you hit a straight, 3 of a kind or higher in your five cards, you’ll be paid out according to the following pay table:
Pai Gow Poker Payouts
- Straight 2:1
- Three of a Kind 3:1
- Flush 4:1
- Full House 5:1
- Four of a Kind 25:1
- Straight Flush 50:1
- Royal Flush 150:1
- Five Aces 500:1
- Seven Card Straight Flush with Joker 1,000:1 (based on all seven cards before the split)
- Royal Flush with Suited Royals 2,000:1
- Seven Card Straight Flush (based on all seven cards before the split) 8000-to-1
This side bet is completely independent to the main betting action. It is possible therefore that you could lose to a better hand from the banker, but still win the side bet.
For example, if your 5-card hand features three of a kind (3’s), but the banker has three of a kind (7’s). The side bet will still payout even if you lose the main bet.
While many online casino games play at a fast pace, Pai Gow Poker is the perfect game for someone who wants to enjoy something more considered. The tactical element of the game makes this a slower game (both live and online), with the splitting of the cards the key element.
Once you’re an experienced Pai Gow Poker player, the optimal splitting of the hands will become second nature in a live environment. Playing online, the software will do the work for you.
You can now enjoy Pai Gow Poker online in New Jersey. ‘Fortune Pai Gow Poker’ is a popular variant in the state, with the added side bet which could turn any hand into a jackpot winner.