Everything you Need to Know About Pai Gow Poker

Pai Gow Poker, sometimes known as double-hand poker, is a variation of the ancient Chinese game Pai Gow. Normally, the traditionalist would play this game with dominos, but at Ignition Casino we’ve added poker to the mix, to create some seriously good entertainment.

History of Pai Gow Poker

Pai Gow was originally played in ancient China and translates to ‘make nine’. In the original version of Pai Gow, the players used dominos to try to make a combination that totalled nine. Borrowing an element of baccarat or blackjack, the players would take on the dealer, to try and scope a win against the house. For the uninitiated player, it’s a low-risk game that requires a small bankroll to get started.

An influx of immigrants from Asia to the US meant that Pai Gow was able to find a home in the Western gaming. The card form of modern Pai Gow was created in 1985, when Californian Bell Club card room owner, Sam Torosian, designed the rules of contemporary Pai Gow Poker. Tororisan’s Pai Gow Poker found a willing audience amongst Chinese immigrants and the Pai Gow buzz quickly spread to the strip in Vegas soon after. Torosian’s only mistake was not getting a patent on the popular game. 

Video Pai Gow Poker is now a must-have in the online casino world.

How Pai Gow Poker Works

Modern Pai Gow Poker uses a standard 52-card deck plus the joker. The joker can be used as an ace or to complete a flush or straight. Similar to blackjack, each round of betting starts with ante against the house. The action starts with the player at the table and the dealer being dealt seven cards each. Player cards are visible, whilst the dealer’s card remain face-down. The seven cards are split by the player into two hands, with five cards in one hand and two in the other. These are commonly referred to as the high/low hands. Now, the five-card hand needs to rank higher than the two-card hand. 

A winning hand in Pai Gow Poker, requires both the player’s high and low hands to beat the total of the dealer’s corresponding hands. If the dealer’s hands outrank both your high and low hand, you’ll lose the bet. If the player wins one hand and the dealer the other, then the bet is pushed and you won’t lose the bet. In the event of a tie, the pot goes to the dealer. 

To help you increase the size of your bankroll, we’ve crafted some strategies to help you boost your chances for some major rewards.

How Pai Gow Poker WorksHow to Deal Pai Gow Poker

Before the card shuffler hit the casino floors, dealers would shape the piles of cards into the form of a dragon. While dominos may have been substituted for cards, the game still retains its connection to Ancient Chinese culture.

Pai Gow Poker Strategy

Getting an advantage in Pai Gow comes down to how a player splits their cards into the high and low hands. Remember, a player needs to win both sets of hands to win the pot. There’s a small house edge in this form of poker, so if you’re holding a high-ranking pair in your two-card hand, then there’s a high chance of the bet being pushed. 

At Ignition Casino, we love it when our players win. And to help you further, we’ve broken down the Pai Gow rankings, to give your strategy a winning edge.

Here’s a breakdown of the some of Pai Gow strategy:

Jokers are Semi-Wild in Pai Gow Poker

 Normally, the jokers are wild in the majority of casino table games, but Pai Gow offers something different. The joker is used as an ace or to make a straight or a flush.  

Five Aces

A joker will give you potentially five aces to play across a hand. The safe play would be to split them unless you have a pair of Kings to move into your low hand.

Four of a Kind

Split the four of a kind if you can move a high-ranking pair to the low hand, preferably kings or aces. You’ll want to try and strengthen your lower as much as possible with a strong pair. Sixes and anything below you’ll want to play in your five-card higher hand.  


Ideally, if you have a choice, move one of your higher-ranking cards into the low hand. If you can’t, then play the flush or the straight in the high hand. A king-high flush would be the ideal situation to move the king to the lower hand, to hopefully win the pot. Consider splitting a flush or a straight when you can strengthen both your high and low hands. 

Full House

A Pai Gow chart will come in handy for the next couple of hands. The best strategy would be to shift the pair to the low hand. Strengthen your low hand with a high-ranking pair and leave the three-of-a-kind in the five-card draw. This a good time to sharpen your skills on the practice mode at Ignition Casino. 

Three of a Kind

If you are dealt three aces, move one of them to the low hand. Otherwise, anything below aces should be kept together in the high hand.  

Three Pair

Play the highest-ranking pair in the low hand.

Two Pair

Keep weak pairs together in a high hand and if you can send the ace to your low hand to protect your position. In Pai Gow, split the pairs and keep the higher-ranking pair in the high hand, giving you the best conditions to claim the pot. 


Keep the pair in the high hand to increase your chances of winning the pot. 

High Card 

If you have drawn nothing, then look to play your strongest ranking card in your high hand, and then move your lower-ranked cards to the low hand.

Pai Gow Poker Hands Ranking

If you are familiar with poker, the hands follow a similar ranking at Ignition Casino:

  1. Royal flush
  2. Straight flush
  3. Four of a kind
  4. Full house
  5. Flush
  6. Straight
  7. Three of a kind
  8. Two pair
  9. Pair
  10. High Card

Pai Gow Poker Odds Calculator 

Taming the Pai Gow dragon is about creating a solid position across both hands. If you can’t win the pot, you need to put yourself in a position to guarantee a push. In Pai Gow, you’re likely to draw a pair 40% of the time. Unlike Texas Hold Em Poker, Pai Gow is a game that is more based on luck and the cards you are dealt. You won’t draw a pair about 15% of the time. Use the practice mode at Ignition Casino and study a chart, to give yourself an edge when playing for real money.

Pai Gow Poker Odds Calculator 

Side Bets in Pai Gow Poker

Side bets are a terrific feature of Pai Gow Poker games at a bricks and mortar casino. The side bets don’t take away from the hand itself, but give you the perfect opportunity to increase your winnings. You can add a side bet on the type of hand you’ll be dealt, with the bonuses getting larger based on the ranking of your hand. A royal flush, will score you the biggest payday in Pai Gow Poker. 

Some of the most common Pai Gow Poker side bets include Fortune Pai Gow, Pai Gow Mania, Emperor’s Challenge, Progressive Fortune Pai Gow. Fortune Pai Gow will give you a huge bonus on a straight or better in any hand. The rarer the hand, the larger the payout on the side bet. Some casinos will also play an Envy Bonus, allowing you to make a side bet on a player being dealt a premium hand at the table. A progressive jackpot bonus is similar to what you would find at the pokies. You’ll land a major payday if a player is dealt a monster hand. 

Ignition Casino’s Pai Gow poker, combines the excitement of blackjack, while retaining the mystic of the Pai Gow’s history in Asia. You can play Pai Gow for windows on your computer or can experience the same level of excitement on your mobile device. Now it’s time to load up your bankroll and win some rewards.