History of Pai Gow Poker

History of Pai Gow Poker

Pai gow poker is a comparing game that pits the player (or players) against the banker. Although it is played with a 53 card deck of standard playing cards plus one joker, pai gow poker is based on the ancient Chinese game of pai gow, which uses dominoes.

Each is dealt seven cards and must create two poker hands from these cards. These consist of a five card and a two card hand, called the “behind” or “big” hand and the “front” or “small” hand, respectively.

The player wins under several conditions – his/her behind hand must be worth more than his front hand, based on poker values, and each of these must be worth more than the corresponding hand belonging to the banker. Click for details on how to play and Pai Gow poker table layout.

Origin of Pai Gow Poker

The game of pai gow was first developed in China about a century ago. In the original version, up to eight players would arrange four tiles each into two hands, a “back” and a “front” hand. The object was the same as in the current game, to beat each of the banker’s respective hands. Winning wagers paid out at odds of 1:1. Determining the winner at true pai gow is a very complex process, and as a result the game never really caught on among Westerners.

Pai gow poker is a much more recent invention, created in the United States in the 1980s to encourage more Asian players to gamble at American style casinos. Loosely based on Chinese pai gow, the game successfully combined Eastern and Western elements in a way that US players enjoyed.

Pai gow poker spread from card clubs in California to Las Vegas casinos, and from there to the rest of America and abroad. Lately, pai gow poker is starting to be offered in more and more online casinos as well.

Pai Gow Poker

The player places his wager before the cards are dealt. As mentioned, the basic rules of pai gow poker are that the player must arrange his cards into a “small” two card poker hand and a “big” five card poker hand. In online pai gow poker, the house takes on the role of the banker.

If each of the player’s hands is worth more than the banker’s corresponding hands, the player wins. If only one is worth more than the corresponding hand belonging to the banker, it is a tie and no one wins. The player loses when each of his hands is worth less than the banker’s corresponding ones.

Pai Gow Poker Strategy

Pai Gow Poker is a fascinating game for gamblers because it includes elements of both luck and strategy. Experienced players have worked out an optimal strategy, which is quite complex. The strategy table can be used to find the best hands a player can assemble out of any combination of seven cards.

In addition to studying the strategy table, the player should keep in mind the most basic rule of all – his/her “big” hand must be worth more than his/her “small” hand without exception, or he will disqualified from the round. There are several variations of pai gow poker, so the player must learn the rules of the variant he wishes to play.


Based on an ancient Chinese game, pai gow poker has the player compete against the house to make the best poker hands out of the cards he/she has been dealt. Strategy as well as luck plays an important role.

Posted by CCJ Team

Pai Gow Poker Resources

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