Pai Gow poker has its roots in the ancient Chinese game of Pai Gow. Pai Gow poker is a blend of the ancient game and American poker. The game has grown quickly in popularity. When you play Pai Gow poker, you must pay a 5% commission to the house in credits each time you win.
Pai Gow poker is played with a deck of 53 cards: a standard deck plus one wild Joker. Each Player is dealt seven cards and must split them into two hands. The first hand is referred to as "the highest hand," and consists of five cards. The second hand is referred to as "the second highest," and consists of only two cards. The game follows general poker ranking rules: one pair, three of a kind, etc. The five-card hand must always rank higher than the two-card hand. For example, if your seven cards are: Ace + Ace + 9 + 7 + 5 + 4 + 3, you cannot place the two Aces as in your two-card hand. The pair of Aces must be kept in "the highest hand" (i.e. the five-card hand). Your goal as the Player is to beat both of the Dealer's hands; the highest and the second highest. If you only succeed in winning one of the two hands, the round results in a tie, or "push." If both your hands lose against the Dealer's hands, the Dealer takes the play. If both of your hands beat the Dealer's hands, you receive "even money" on your play (i.e. 1 to 1), with the exception that the bank takes a 5% commission from your credit winnings. Pai Gow poker games follow the standard rules. The exceptions, however, are that Players cannot play the dragon or act as Dealer. Furthermore, the Players do not lose their plays if they mistakenly create a "dead hand," but are merely warned to rearrange their cards.
When you play in a traditional, real-life casino, it is very important to keep "the dead hand" in mind. A dead hand results when the Pai Gow Player fails to divide the seven cards properly into a highest and second highest hand. If the Player places his two best cards in the second highest hand, the Player's hand is considered "dead" and he loses instantly. This will not happen to Pai Gow Players at this Casino. When you make a mistake dividing your seven cards, you are merely notified by the game that your cards must be redistributed between the two hands.
The wild card, or Joker, may be used only as a single Ace; or to complete a flush, straight, or a straight flush.
The five-card hand must be "the highest". The Player must try to create the best possible five-card hand from his seven dealt cards. In Pai Gow poker, the highest-ranking hand is five Aces (i.e. four Aces plus the wild card). This poker hand beats a royal flush.
The two-card hand is referred to as "the second highest." The two-card hand of highest rank is a pair of Aces. If the second highest hand is not composed of a pair, the value of the cards determines the hand's rank.
When the Player and the Dealer compare hands that have the same rank, that hand is referred to as a "copy hand." Unlike in blackjack, where a copy hand results in a push, the Dealer wins the copy hand in Pai Gow.