To produce the optimal playing strategy you’ll need pages of analysis and charts. If you are playing online you could in theory follow the basic strategy of Pai Gow Poker that will enhance your winning chances. However, there are easier methods which comes close to the best strategy and in this section we’re going to explore this.

Firstly, if you plan on wagering at internet casinos, there is an excellent online Pai Gow decision-maker program which is for free on most websites. If you are playing in a land-based casino do not take in any electronic device, you may be thrown out, arrested or put in prison. Many casinos will allow you to take in a written aide-memoire on condition you have permission from the casino management.

If you are familiar with poker, then playing Pai Gow Poker will not be that difficult. Focus on getting the key decisions right from the word go and you might just turn your Pai Gow Poker exploits into a very profitable experience.

Pai Gow Poker Hand Setting

An average hand at Pai Gow poker is a medium pair and an ace-hand. If you can see hands better than this then you are off to a good start.

You must set your five-card hand (the High hand) as the better of the two Poker hands, and your two-card hand (the Low hand) as the poorer of the two poker hands. You can always set your hand to the House Way, which will be close to optimal strategy, but may veer slightly towards the stand-off, rather than going in for the kill and winning both hands.

Here are the key elements of the Basic Strategy. If you study and understand these you will have a sound knowledge of Pai Gow Poker:

  • 60 to 70 percent of your hands will contain only One Pair.
  • You must place that pair in your five-card hand and set the two highest cards after the pair in the two card hand. Then set the remaining cards to sit alongside your pair. You are dealt: A, J, J, 8, 6, 5, 4. Set your hand like this: J, J, 6, 5, 4 and A, 8
  • If your hand contains no Pairs, no Straight or Flush, set your highest cards in your two-card hand. You are dealt: A, J, 9, 6, 5, 4, 2. Set your hand like this: A, 6, 5, 4, 2 and J, 9
  • If your hand contains two pairs, this is a rather difficult decision to make. There are endless charts and statistics that suggest the best methods. Here are some key points:
  • If your higher pair consists of Aces, Kings or Queens, split the pairs between your five-card and two-card hands, placing the Ace/King/Queen pair in the five-card hand, and the lower pair in the two-card hand.
  • If you hold two low or medium pairs and you have a high card, such as an Ace or King, split the two pairs, setting the Two pair in the five-card hand and the Ace-King in the two-card hand.
  • If you hold two low pairs, but no high card outside, split the pairs between the five-card hand and the two-card hand suing the higher pair for the five-card hand.

If You Have a Strong Hand

  • If you hand contains three pairs, this is a very good hand. There is a hard and fast rule for these hands which is always to set the highest pair in the two-card hand, and to leave the remaining Two Pair for the five-card hand. In this situation, the Two Pair will most likely win the five-card hand, and a high pair will certainly win the two-card hand. It is very likely to be a winning deal for. You are dealt: Q, Q, J, J 5, 5, 3. Set your hand like this: J, J, 5, 5, 3 and Q, Q
  • If your hand contains Three-of-a-Kind, you should play the trips in the five-card hand, and the two highest remaining cards in the two-card hand. When the trips are A, A, A or K, K, K you should split the hand! That is to say, you should put A, A or K, K into the five-card hand, and make the two-card hand Ace or King-high. Your aim here is to win both hands not just the one. Trips will almost certainly win the five-card hand, but Jack-high is likely to lose the two-card hand, resulting in a stand-off. You are dealt: A, A, A, J, 8, 5, 3. Set your hand like this: A, A, 8, 5, 3 and A, J
  • If your hand contains a Straight and a Flush, use whichever hand allows you to form the stronger two-card hand. Once again, this is because to win one hand and to lose the other results in a stand-off, irrespective by how much you win the hand.
  • If your hand contains a Full House, split the Full House and put the Three-of-a-Kind into the five card hand, and the Pair into the two-card hand.
  • With two Three-of-a-Kind hands contained in the first seven cards, it is better to play the lower trips in the five-card hand, and higher trips broken up to form the high pair in the two-card hand. You are dealt: K, K, K, 6, 6, 6, 4. Set your hand like this: 6, 6, 6, K, 4 and K, K
  • With Four-of-a-Kind, players should split the quads if its high-say 10, 10, 10, 10 putting One Pair into each hand; but the Four-of-a-Kind is low, then the quads should be retained in the five-card hand, and the two highest other cards set in the two-card hand.