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Pai Gow Poker

Pai Gow poker is the brainchild of Commerce Casino manager Fred Wolf and his friend Sam Torosian, born in the 1980s. Trying to draw players into the crowded Los Angeles market, the duo went on a quest to create new card games for the commercial casino market, and Pai Gow was probably their biggest hit. 

Based on a Chinese domino game, Pai Gow poker uses traditional poker hands in a revamped format that pits players against a single banker. Thanks to its complexity and strategy, Pai Gow poker online is one of our favourite games to play. Here are some of the best casinos available for Canadians to enjoy this fabulous card game at:

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How to Play Pai Gow

Pai Gow poker is a fairly complex game, and with its two-hand format, it does take some getting used to. 

To get started, a standard 52-card deck plus a single Joker is used. it’s preferable to play with six players plus the dealer, though it is possible to play with fewer people: 

Goal of Pai Go2w 

The goal of the game is to beat the banker (either the dealer or another player at the table). The outcomes work in the following way: 

How to Form a Winning Hand 

The order of winning hands in Pai Gow is almost identical to that of regular online poker, but there are exceptions: 

You are required to produce one 5 card hand (standard poker rankings apply) and one 2 card hand (usually a high card or a pair).

The 5-card hand must always outrank the 2-card hand.

At some casinos an A-2-3-4-5 straight ranks higher than a K-high straight, but below an A-K-Q-J-10 straight. The Ace makes all the difference.

One Joker is left in the deck and acts as a “bug.” The Joker can be used to complete a straight or a flush, but not to make pairs or other hands. In a two-card hand, the Joker plays as an Ace. (There are a few casinos that play the Joker as completely wild, but those are rare online).

If a player cannot make a pair or better with their cards, it is called a ‘Pai Gow’ (non-hand).

Below is a rundown of the traditional poker rankings with their odds. 

Study and learn these hands off by heart so that you can spend your efforts on strategy, rather than on remembering which hands rank better.

Pai Gow Poker vs Regular Poker 

There are a few main differences to consider, none of which is critical. When choosing which version of poker to play, it’s mainly a matter of personal taste. 

What Are Your Odds? 

In Pai Gow poker the odds are always going to be the same. Instead of worrying about how to read other players, bluffing and the like, you just need to focus exclusively on the best way to arrange your own hand. The best players can bring the house edge down to a narrow minimum. An average house edge is around 2.84% 

Pow Gow Strategy 

Pai Gow poker can get pretty complicatedbut once mastered provides for much fun. One tip I can give you is that it pays to be the banker when you can, since the banker has better odds. 

Try to remember these tips: 


Pai Gow Poker is a challenging game with a lot of extra dimensions including the If you like to think while you play, then this is the game for you. Whether you play online, or play among friends, one thing’s for sure, Pai Gow Poker will keep you on your toes!

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