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Pai Gow Poker

28 March 2009

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What is Pai Gow Poker?
Pai Gow Poker is a variation of the Chinese domino game Pai Gow. Pai gow poker is commonly referred to as simply "pai gow", which is wrong, as "pai gow" alone is a completely separate game. Pai gow poker is played with a 53-card deck, including a joker.

The player and the banker play one on one, each competing to make the winning hand.

How to play Pai Gow Poker
Play begins by making a wager. Next everyone receives 7 cards. A roll of the dice or a randomly generated number determines which player gets the first set of cards.

The players then each arrange their 7 cards into a 5-card hand and a 2-card hand. The 5-card hand is ranked as in poker. The highest 2-card hand is a pair of aces and the lowest is a 2 and 3.

After all the players have arranged their hands the banker arranges his/hers according to a set of fixed rules known as the "house way."

Then the player’s 5 card and 2 card hands are compared to the dealer's 5 card and 2 card hands. In the event of an exact match between hands, called a copy, the tie goes to the banker. This is one way the house has an edge.

If the player beats the dealer with both hands the player wins even money. If the player wins one and loses one the bet is a push. If the player loses both the player loses the entire wager.

When setting the hands the 5-card hand needs to be higher than the 2-card hand, otherwise this is called a foul and both lose.

The joker can be used to complete a straight, flush or straight flush, otherwise is can only be treated as an ace.

At some places if there is an empty seat the dealer will also deal a "dragon" hand. Another player may assume the dragon hand if they wish, essentially playing two positions rather than one.

In some casinos the player can be the banker although they have to make sure they can pay off all winning bets.

If the player wants to bank they must have enough money on the table to pay off all winning bets of the other players and dealer. Some books say that they player can co-bank with the house, again only in some casinos.

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