Pai Gow Poker
Pai Gow is a card-game derived from the ancient Chinese domino game with the same name. The game is offered at most online and real casinos, as well as at some online poker rooms. There are rooms that offer a no-download flash version of it for practice as well as for real money, where you can really get the hang of it while actually playing. If you access one of these flash-based Pai-Gow casino games you'll see that it all begins with a bet. As a player, you need to make a wager matched by the dealer, before the actual game commences. The game is always one-on-one (you against the dealer) no matter how many people there are seated around the table. The dealer will play each of them separately in a one-on-one setup. After you made your wager, you're dealt seven cards.
Unlike Online Roulette You need to arrange these cards into two seperate hands: one comprised of 5 cards, the other one of 2. Both these hands shall be ranked according to general poker hand ranking, with the difference that the highest possible 2-card hand is a pair of aces and the lowest possible one is 2,3. Naturally, no straights or flushes are allowed for your 2-card hand. There are also jokers in the game, but they are only wild for straights and flushes in your 5-card hand, otherwise they're counted as aces. You need to pay attention that your 2-card hand isn't higher than the 5-card hand you produced, as this will invalidate both hands. While you arrange your hand, the dealer also arranges his according to the rules set by the casino (more on these later), then you compare your hands (his 5 card hand against your 5-card hand, and his 2-card hand against his 2-card hand). The winner is decided the following way: if you both show down exactly the same value hands the dealer (banker) wins. If your five-card hand beats his and your two-card hand loses to his it's a push and you get your money back. If his five-card beats yours and your two-card hand beats his, it's a push again. If both your hands beat his respective hands you win, if both his hands beat your respective hands you lose.
The best way to learn these rules is to see them in action, by playing a bit of Pai Gow online in practice mode. Whenever you win, you win the money you wagered in the first place back, plus the same amount of money from the dealer minus a 5% commission. That is the equivalent of the rake. Whether or not there are poker rooms out there offering rakeback on rake generated in Pai Gow, I'm not sure, but it is possible in theory.
The interesting thing about a Pai Gow PokerRoom , unlike online video poker, is that players too can become bankers in turn. This is quite important because in case of equal-value hands shown down the banker wins. In order to qualify for the banker position the player needs to have enough chips in front of him to be able to pay out all other players in case they win. The dealers will still play when a player takes over the banker position, and they'll be obliged to post a first bet, equivalent to the last bet of the player who became the banker.
Strategy-wise, Pai Gow Poker can get pretty complicated. First off, you need to watch the amount of money you bet when you're a banker and what you bet when you're a simple player. Obviously, being in the banker position will offer you increased odds. The way you make up your 5-card and 2-card hands is another variable which you can tamper with in order to increase the odds.
A few ideas as to how you should arrange your hands according to the cards you're dealt: if you have a high card (no pairs, nothing else), place the highest card in your 5-card hand and the second and third highest in the 2-card hand. In case you get a pair: place it in the 5-card hand and put your remaining two highest cards in your 2-card hand. There are rules like this for pretty much every card combination you're dealt.
If you learn how the house arranges its hands, you should arrange yours the same way. That'll give you the best odds. Online Pai Gow software will arrange your hands automatically for you.
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