Pai Gow poker - how to play the latest casino sensation
Today’s online casino sites are operating in a more competitive environment than ever before. That’s good news for players, as it means they are pulling out all the stops to provide a better gaming experience than the rest. One way of doing so is by providing a wider choice of games. It has led to some misses as well as hits, but Pai Gow poker definitely falls into the latter category, at least among US players, who can’t get enough of it.
Casino mash ups are not always the best idea. If you’ve tried games like bac bo or card craps and been left thinking that baccarat is better played with cards and craps with dice rather than vice versa, you are not alone. However, Pai Gow is an exception to that rule, and successfully transplants the basic gameplay of an ancient Chinese dominoes-type game into an exciting new form of poker.
How to play Pai Gow
Pai gow is a little like baccarat or blackjack in that it is just you against the dealer. As is the case at a blackjack table, there might be several other players present, but you do not play against each other. The game is played with a 53-card deck. That’s the four suits plus one joker, which is wild. The dealer will deal each of seven cards. You must separate these into two poker hands, one of five cards and the other of two. The only other condition is that your five card hand must be the superior of the two.
To win, both your hands must be better than the corresponding dealer’s hands. In this case, you win even money. If you split the difference and only one is better, the hand goes down as a push. So how does the casino get an edge in Pai Gow? Quite simply, if scores are tied, it is a dealer win. As that’s all that separates you and the dealer, you will feel you’re playing a “fair game.” In honesty, Pai Gow is just about as fair as you can get, with a decidedly modest house edge of just 1.3 percent.
Where to play
As we mentioned earlier, Pai Gow is a relatively new arrival in US online casinos, but it has quickly captured the hearts and minds of players. As a result, it is spreading like wildfire across cyberspace. You should have little difficulty finding a casino or online poker site where you can get a game of Pai Gow. The list of independently checked sites at Legal US Poker Site (https://www.legaluspokersites.com/) is a good place to look, as you can be confident that all the operators there have been independently reviewed by casino experts.
A final word about side bets
Like most table games, Pai Gow offers side bets, and like the rest, these have a higher house edge. As is the case with craps, it is best not to be distracted by side bets and instead to focus on the main game.