How to Play Pai Gow Poker

At our Las Vegas dealing school, we teach students how to play and deal many casino table games, including Pai Gow Poker.  Read this article for more information on being an efficient and effective Pai Gow Poker dealer.

In Pai Gow Poker, players receive seven cards and separate them to create a high hand in back (five cards) and a low hand (two cards) in front. The player plays against the banker and must win both to win and lose both to lose, otherwise it is a push. If a player wins, he is paid 1:1 minus a 5% commission.

Pai Gow Poker hand rankings are similar to standard poker hand rankings. However, there is an extra card in the deck as Pai Gow Poker is played with a joker. Each casino has a set house way dictating how the dealer must set up the hand. At Gold Star School of Gaming, we teach the most popular and most complicated house way to insure students have no problem on their first day at their new job. If students understand the most complicated house way, other casinos will be a breeze.

It is worth noting that if there is a copy hand (for instance both the player and banker have an A-K on top), the banker wins. This is the advantage to having a player banker and why some players opt to be the bank.

Also, many casinos offer side bets to keep Pai Gow Poker interesting. After all, the majority of the hands are a push and no money is won or lost. The most popular side bet in Vegas is currently the Fortune Bonus. This bet is featured on our layouts for plenty of student practice.

Below are a few more common situations that you will encounter as a student of Pai Gow Poker, such as the dragon hand, mis-set hands, and prepaid commission.

Dragon Hand

If there are empty seats at the Pai Gow table, the first empty seat to the right of the dealer will be the dragon hand. The dragon hand is just an extra Pai Gow hand that players may opt to play after they’ve set their own hand. As the dealer, you will offer the dragon beginning with the player on the right and ask players in order if they would like to play the dragon hand. If a player took the dragon hand last hand, begin offering the dragon starting with the player to the right of him.

When a player opts to play the dragon hand, he may bet the table minimum up to the amount he bet on his current hand. (Note: there is no dragon hand when a player banks. And if the player is already playing two hands, he may not play the dragon hand. Also, the player may not make a bonus bet on the dragon hand.)

Mis-Set Hand

A mis-set hand occurs when the player sets a hand that violates the ‘back hand must be higher than the front hand’ rule. For instance if the player has 2-2-A-K-J-10-6 and sets it so that the 2-2 is in the front and the A-K-J-10-6 is in the back, this is a mis-set hand. Technically, all mis-set hands are automatic losers, but in the event of mis-set hand, call your floor supervisor. Typically, the supervisor will allow the player to reset the hand as a courtesy.

If the dealer mis-sets his own hand, this is not an automatic loser. The dealer is not allowed to have a mis-set hand. In this event, call your floor supervisor and he will assist you in correcting the error.

Pre-Paid Commission

Some casinos allow players to play with a pre-paid commission. This means that a player will place a bet and the commission is bet on top. Typical examples of pre-paid commission is when a player bets $26.25 ($25 is the bet, $1.25 is the pre-paid commission) or $105 ($100 is the bet, $5 is the commission). A player does not have to notify you he is playing with a pre-paid commission; the odd amount of the bet will tell you. If the bet loses, take the entire amount. If it wins, simply pay the bet and ignore the commission. So should a player win a $26.25 bet, you would pay him $25, taking no commission.