The game of Pai Gow poker requires a typical deck of cards, using both the 52 cards and a joker. It’s sometimes referred to as double hand poker and it’s the US made version of the Chinese game called pai gow that uses dominoes typically. The dominoes were replaced with cards in this game and it’s played in casinos, at tables with the dealer and six other players. All players go against the dealer or against another player if he is the banker.
The game starts with the initial bet being made, followed by cards being dealt. The players get 7 cards each and they use them to form two different hands. The first poker hand uses the standard five cards while the second one uses two cards. They call the hand with five cards either big, high, bottom or behind. As for the hand with two cards, the name given to it is usually either low, minor, small or on top.
One of the rules of this game is that the 5 card hand has to be of a higher value than the hand with 2 cards. In the best case scenario, a hand of 2 cards can mean a high value pair (two Aces), while the worst one would be a combination of a 2 with a 3 card.
The joker is used in this type of poker, but it’s different than the typical card that can take the role of any other card that is needed. In this game, a joker may only be used to help you form a straight when you’re missing one card and to form a flush. In all other cases, the joker will behave like an Ace card. If you use the joker in a hand of 2 cards, it will always be considered an Ace.
After the players get their poker hands ready (both the 5 and the 2 cards hands), they are placed on the table, with the 2 cards first while the 5 cards are in the back. The goal is to win with both those hands while playing against the banker. The dealer is the one that is usually the banker, but he can also be represented by a player.
In order to find out who the winner is, a comparison is made between the hands formed by the banker and the ones that are formed by each of the players that take part in the game. The player needs to beat the banker’s hands with both combinations of cards that he formed. If only one combo is better, it’s a draw and the player is allowed to take back the money. The player loses the pai gow game when the banker has both hands better than his. Another situation when the banker is considered the winner is when the player has a hand that is identical as the banker’s.
Different casinos might have different variants of this type of poker to offer. One example would be Pai Gow Mania, while another is Fortune Pai Gow (quite popular these days).