Pai-Gow Poker - 2 . December 2000

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Pai-Gow Poker - 2

by Gayle Mitchell

To continue your pai-gow poker education for novices, following are tips and strategies to gain that edge in this choice casino card game.

Poker Rankings are as follows:

Five aces (4 aces plus joker); royal flush; A, 2, 3, 4, 5, is the third highest straight flush (note: not all casinos or card rooms follow this rule-check before you play for 3rd highest hand ranking); then all other straight flushes, 4 of a kind, full house, flush, straight, 3 of a kind, two pair, one pair, and high card.

Following are strategy tips for Pai-Gow:

No pairs: Play the second and third highest-ranked cards as the low hand and the remaining five cards as high hand.  e.g., dealt -- K, Q, 10, 8, 6, 5, 2.

Set the Q, 10 as low hand and K,  8, 6, 5, 2 as high hand.

One Pair:  The pair is set in the high hand and your next two highest-ranked cards as low hand.

Two Pair:  Depends on the rank of the pairs. If one of your pairs is aces, kings or queens, then split the pairs putting one of the A's, K's or Q's in high hand, and the other pair as low hand.  However, for all other pairs, play them as two pair in the high hand, and a king or ace in your low hand. If you were not dealt a king or an ace for a low hand, then you are safer to split the pairs with the high pair in high hand and low pair in low hand.

Three Pair:  Highest ranking pair should be your low hand.

Three of a Kind:  Three aces or kings, split, placing ace or king in low hand and the pair in high hand. All other  three of a kind should be played in high hand and two highest cards as the low hand.

Straights and Flushes:  This should be high hand, and remaining two cards as low hand. These two rankings are easy to overlook, so check for these two hands first before developing a second-hand strategy.

Full House:   Three of a kind in high hand, and high pair as low hand--easy split and decision here.

Four of a Kind:   Always split your four aces, kings and  queens-play one pair as low hand and the other in high hand. With four J's-7's, play them as a four of a kind in high hand only if you have at least a queen that you can use in low hand. If you don't have the latter, then split the four of a kind (two in low hand, two in high hand). With four 2's-6's, never split,  always play them in high hand.

Five Aces:  Split the aces and play a pair of aces in low hand, and three aces in high hand.

The casino's advantage is about 2.8%, lowered to 2.5% with perfect strategy.  A skillful banker can play an even game against the casino; therefore, try for the banker position as often as the casino allows, placing larger bets as your wager management plan will allow. However, bet the minimum only when you have to be the player. For novice players, you now have the basic tools to practice intelligent gambling. Go get 'em!


Gayle Mitchell is author of  Casino Gambling Made Easier  books, booklets and strategy cards.