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How To Play Pai Gow Poker

Follow these tips to learn the popular card game.


  • Step 1: Designate a dealer. The dealer may then select a player to roll the dice to determine who will receive the first hand.
  • Step 2: Roll the dice. The dice total determines where the first hand is placed and who bets first. The position numbers start with the dealer’s position and continue counter-clockwise until the dice total is reached. The remaining six hands are distributed counter-clockwise from the first hand position.
  • Step 3: Deal seven cards face-down to all seven player positions in the established betting order. This includes hands dealt to vacant player positions.
  • TIP: The Joker is typically played as a wild card in the five-card hand, or as an ace in the two-card hand.
  • Step 4: Make your seven dealt cards into two poker hands: a five-card poker hand that uses standard five-card poker rankings from aces to deuces, and a two-card poker hand where one pair or a high card wins.
  • TIP: A "dragon hand" can be dealt to a vacant position and then selected by a player and played as a second hand.
  • Step 5: Place your hands face-up on the table. Neither player nor dealer can touch the hands once they’ve been set.
  • Step 6: Compare your hands to dealer’s hands. You need to win both hands to beat the dealer. If you and dealer have identical hands, the dealer automatically wins.
  • Step 7: The banker position in Pai Gow Poker moves from one player to the next after every two hands. The banker wins in the case of tie hands. The position's disadvantage is that they must have enough cash to pay off winners. Any player may decline the role of banker.
  • FACT: Though derived from Asian games, Pai Gow Poker is thought to be the brainchild of a California casino owner.

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