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PaiGow Poker

PaiGow Poker - How to Play
by Jerald of

PaiGow Poker is a casino card game where each player (1-6 players) receives 7 cards and has to arrange them into 2 separate hands, the 2 card hand is called the “top” hand and the 5 card hand is called the “bottom”. The bottom hand must outrank the top hand. If you set your hand incorrectly and your “top” hand outranks the “bottom” hand it is a foul and an automatic loser.

The game is played with a 53 card deck (Standard deck of 52 cards plus 1 joker). The joker can be used as an Ace or in straights and flushes if used in the 5 card hand or as an Ace if played in the 2 card hand. In order to determine the rank of the hand you use the standard poker rules for the “back” and “middle” hands. Here are the standard poker hand rankings:

1. Royal Flush
2. Straight Flush
3. Four of a kind
4. Full House
5. Flush
6. Straight (In PaiGow Poker the A-2-3-4-5 is the 2nd highest possible straight only lower than the A-K-Q-J-10.
7. Three of a kind
8. Two pair
9. One Pair
10. High Card

The “top” can only have a pair or high card. There are no straights or flushes for the “top” hand.

To determine the winner, the players compare their hands. To win you must have the higher hand in both the “top”and “bottom” hands. If the player wins one hand and loses the other then it is a push. If the banker wins both hands then it is a loss. If the players tie on a hand (have the exact same rank of hand) then the dealer hand outranks the player hand.

The casino charges a 5% commission on all winning hands. Typically the casino will keep track of how much is owed in commissions but some make you pay as you go.

Strategy – The basic strategy is to put the highest possible hand you can in your “top” hand without fouling your hand. There are a few exceptions to this rule, if you have 2 small pair and also have an Ace with a big kicker it is best to play your 2 small pair on the “bottom” and your Ace-kicker on “top” since there is not much difference in the small pair and Ace-kicker.

Example – You are dealt 7-7-2-2-8-A-K. The best way to set this would be to play this:
Top hand – A-K
Bottom hand – 7-7-2-2-8

PaiGow poker is a game with a low house advantage of 1.46% so it is one of the preferred games to play when visiting a casino.

Paigow Poker Tips


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