Real Money Pai Gow Poker

You read that right – if you want to play a game with a low house edge, look no further than pai gow. It doesn’t get much better than .04 percent.

But first, what is pai gow poker?

I’m glad you asked. It’s a variation of the Chinese domino game, pai gow. It was created by Sam Torosian, the owner of the Bell Card Club in California.

Chances are you don’t recognize the name though. And that’s because Sam never got the attention he deserves for creating the game. It’s a sad story.

You see, after he created the game he got some advice on patenting it. He was told that card games couldn’t be patented, that they’re all public domain, so he never filed for one.

He decided to take a shot and host the game in his casino anyway. So, on a Friday he launched the game on two tables. It was packed. So he did it again the following Friday – there was 30+ tables running.

Great news, right? The only problem was that, since he didn’t have a patent, there was nothing he could do to stop competing casinos from seeing the game and offering it in their casinos.

By the time he found out he received bad advice, the opportunity was gone. There’s a 1 year window for new games to be patented before becoming public domain. Experts think that he’s missing out on $70,000, or more, each month in royalty checks.

Sucks for him….

The rest of us still get to enjoy the game though – you’ll find it in brick and mortar casinos all over the world, as well as at most online casinos.

Where to Play Pai Gow Poker Online

We suggest you check out one of these casinos. – You can play here for free or $1-$500 per hand. It will also count towards their 100% match bonus (up to $1,000). They’re mobile compatible, offer a Flash option for Mac and download for Windows. It’s a solid option for Americans.

Lucky Red Casino – Sign up here to play pai gow poker and get a 100% match bonus up to $1,000. If you play slots you can get a 400% match up to $4,000. And they run promotions for every day of the week. Between that and 130+ games, you have plenty of reasons to check them out.

How To Play Pai Gow Poker

Not sure how to play? Here are the rules:

  • Pai gow poker uses a 52 card deck plus a joker.
  • The joker is semi-wild. You can use it to complete a straight or any type of flush.
  • The dealer will give you 7 cards. Your objective is to split the 7 cards into 2 hands – one hand with 2 cards and another with 5 cards. The hand in back needs to be the better of the two hands (using standard poker hand rankings). For example, if you were dealt A-A-K-2-5-3-J, you’d have to keep a pair of aces or A-K-x-x-x in the back.
  • After you set your hand the dealer will flip his cards over and set them the ‘house way,’ which is another way of saying to specific casino rules.
  • The casino will compare his hand to yours, starting with the high hands, then the two low hands. The highest poker hand wins.
  • If you win both comparisons, you will win even money on your bet minus a 5% commission.
  • If you win one, then lose one, you’ll push.
  • If you lose both or tie both, then the dealer wins your bet.

That’s it.

Each player can also take turns as the banker. Doing so can bring the house edge down to nearly 0%. You’ll be able to set the cards however you want too – you’re not limited to the ‘house way.’

The downside is that you won’t be able to do this (be the banker) online.

Pai Gow Poker Tips

Here are some tips (thanks to Wizard of Odds).

1) Don’t split your pairs. It’s better to keep a pair in your back hand. You’ll often push the hand.

2) Split your 2 pair hands. Keep your strongest pair in back.

3) With 3 of a kind you’ll want to only split it up when you have aces. Keep a pair in the back and an ace up front.

4) With a 4 of a kind, split them up and keep a pair up front. The one exception – if you’re holding quad 2s through 6s – keep those hands intact.

5) Split full houses.

6) Be the banker when you can. If you’re unsure about it you can ask the house to co-bank with you.