Understanding online Pai Gow Poker Pai Gow

Poker is a gambling game of Oriental origin offered at most online casinos. It is a simple game with minimum of decision making. In most online casino Pai Gow Poker games even that is done by the software. After the player makes his ante wager, he is dealt seven cards. There is no option of folding or raising the bet. The player has to split the seven cards into two hands, one with five cards and the other with two cards. The five card hand has to be higher ranked than the two card hand. The dealer’s cards are automatically split into similar hands. The five card hands and the two card hands are compared independently. If the player wins both he receives the payout. If he wins one hand and loses the other then his bet pushes. If he loses both hands then he loses his bet.

 

The following analysis assumes that the player splits his hand using optimum strategy. The probability that the player will win is 28.6%. The probability that the dealer will win is 29.9%. The probability of a tie is 41.8%. Hence the player has an almost equal chance of winning or losing. The fair payout should have been just less than even money. But online casinos operate on a house edge that enables them to meet their costs. Hence the actual payouts are less than the fair payouts. In Pai Gow Poker the payout is defined as even money less a house commission of 5%. The effective payout is 0.95 to 1. The house edge works out to about 1.5%. If compared to other online casino games, this is lower than European Roulette but higher than baccarat and blackjack.


In order to ensure that players wager using optimum strategy almost all software providers include the House Way of splitting the seven cards. The House Way is usually optional and if players employ it then their cards are split in the best possible way without their having to make any decision. However, if the player wants to make the decision himself he can split the cards into the two hands manually. An appropriate practice is to split the cards manually and then reconfirm the correctness using the House Way.
The most difficult hand to split is the one containing two pairs. The decision revolves around keeping both pairs in the five card hand or splitting the pairs over the two hands. Keeping both pairs in the five card hand makes it very strong but weakens the two card hand. Splitting pairs makes the two card hand very strong but weakens the five card hand. The optimum strategy depends on the ranking of the non-pair cards.

For the purposes of Pai Gow Poker optimum strategy, a low pair is defined as ranked from 2 to 6. A medium pair is defined as ranked from 7 to 10 and a high pair is defined as ranked from jack to ace. Two low pairs are split unless the player holds a king or better in the other cards. A low pair and a medium pair are handled in the same manner. A low pair and a high pair are split unless the player holds an ace in the other cards. Two medium pairs are handled in the same manner. All other pair combinations are always split.

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