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A Guide to Pai Gow Poker

Pai Gow poker is one of the most popular variants of poker. The game combines some aspects of the traditional Chinese game Pai Gow and standard poker. Unlike standard poker, where you play against other players, Pai Gow Poker pits you against the dealer or banker. 

It can be found in land-based and online casinos in Kenya. The game is popular with many gambling enthusiasts for several reasons. It has low volatility and a very low house edge. Also, Pai Gow poker gives you a sense of camaraderie since you’re all playing against the dealer.

In this post, we’ll be discussing everything you need to know about Pai Gow Poker. You’ll learn the game’s history, how to play it, tips to increase your winning chances, and the advantages of playing the game online.

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History of Pai Gow Poker

The origin of Pai Gow can be traced back to China, about 100 years ago. The original version of the game was played by up to eight players. Each player would arrange four tiles into two hands – a “front” and a “back” hand. The goal was the same as in today’s game – to beat the dealer or banker. The odds for winning bets were at 1:1. 

The game was introduced to other countries by travelers, traders, and Chinese colonists. In the 20th century, Pai Gow was discovered by Fred Wold and Sam Torosian, who would chart the course for what is today known as Pai Gow Poker.

Although it had altered severally over the years since its advent, it retained its appeal. However, they noticed most American gamblers did not like the idea of dominoes. So, Wolf and Torosian replaced the dominoes with cards. This marked the start of the Pai Gow game as a type of Poker

The game made its first appearance in America at the California Bell Casino in 1985. It quickly became popular among Americans and tourists who visited Las Vegas casinos. 

Pai Gow Poker

Pai Gow Poker Hands Ranking

Before playing Pai Gow poker, you must understand the different types of poker hands as they will come in handy when playing. Study the different hands carefully and know how to spot them in the cards you have. Pai Gow Poker uses classical poker hands, which rank from the strongest to the weakest.

They include:

  • Royal Flush – This refers to the strongest hand. It contains the cards ace, king, jack, queen, and ten, all from the same suit. 
  • Straight Flush – A hand of cards from the same suit and in numerical order. For example, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8 of Spades.
  • Four of a Kind – A hand containing four cards of the same value. For example, 4 Hearts, 4 Diamonds, 4 Spades, and 4 Clubs.
  • Flush – A hand containing five cards, all of one suit. For example, 10, J, 2, 4, and 5 of Spades. 
  • Three of a Kind – Refers to three cards of the same rank and two cards of two other ranks.
  • Full House – A hand containing three cards of the same value and any other two cards of the same value
  • Straight – A hand containing five cards of sequential rank. 

Steps for Playing Pai Gow Poker

With Pai Gow Poker, the main goal is to beat the dealer. To do this, you must build two hands that are stronger than the dealer’s hands. The game uses a deck of fifty-two cards and a joker which is a wild card in the game. Each player receives seven face-down cards, including the dealer.

Once you receive your cards, you’ll be required to arrange them in two separate hands. Five cards in one hand and two cards in the other hand. The hand with five cards is known as the Bottom, while the hand with two cards is known as the Top. 

Essentially, the Top hand should not be stronger than the Bottom hand. Once you’ve set up your hands, wait for the dealer to do the same. Your hand and that of the dealer will then be compared. If your two hands beat the dealer’s hands, you will be paid at odds of 1:1 on your ante. 

If one of your hands beats the dealer and the other loses, your wager is returned as a push. If you have the same hand strength, the dealer wins all ties. 

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Pai Gow Poker Tips and Strategy

Here are a few tips and strategies to boost your winning chances at Pai Gow Poker:

Know how to play – Understanding the different hand rankings and rules is crucial in increasing your winning chances.

Split big pairs – Splitting bigger pairs and keeping smaller ones is a fantastic way to play aggressively with a chance to win and less risk.

Play the bonus – Most online casinos offer a bonuses and bet option, which is a pretty good bet when playing Pai Gow.

Manage your bankroll – It’s always important to have a budget, and when you exhaust your budget, quit until the next time.

Playing Pai Gow Poker Online

When playing Pai Gow Online, keep these tips in mind:

  • Choose a licensed casino – It’s important to pick a casino that is licensed and has a good reputation 
  • Take advantage of bonuses – Virtually all online casinos offer bonuses. Take advantage of them to get more playtime.
  • Play on your mobile devices – Most casino sites are compatible with mobile browsers or have dedicated apps. You can wager on the go.
  • Safety and security – Be sure to wager at a casino that guarantees your safety and security. 
  • More Accessibility – Online gambling is also attractive because the minimum bet limit in the land casino is much higher, while in the best Kenyan online casinos, you can play for free or with a minimum bet amount, which makes the game more accessible.


Pai Gow basics were created in China about 100 years ago. Of course, over time the game has changed and evolved to make it more attractive and understandable to modern players, it holds a special place among casino games. In this game you do not play against other players, the main goal is to beat the dealer. Pai Gow Poker is a great game for any poker fan. It’s easy to play, has a low house edge, and offers hours of endless fun. With the tips and strategies covered in this post, you can increase your winning chances at the game.


Well, while you don’t need prior experience to play Pai Gow, familiarizing yourself with the basics of the game can boost your winning chances.

Pai Gow Poker has a house edge of 2.84%, which is pretty low.

It’s considered the Wild Card of the game

No! As long as you’re playing at a reputable casino, it cannot be rigged.

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