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ReadyBetGo's Guide to Pai Gow Poker
Pai Gow Poker Basic Strategy
Basics of Pai Gow Poker
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Henry Tamburin on Casino Gambling
by Henry Tamburin
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One of the most prolific and respected authors on the subject of gambling presents more than 75 of his previously-published articles from many other publications, now under one cover. In 8 chapters, he covers a wide spectrum of games, including the basics of craps. blackjack, slots, video poker, roulette and poker.

Basic Strategy for Pai Gow Poker

Playing Strategy

Your objective is to set your 5-card high hand so that it is higher in poker rank then your 2-card low hand. You also want to try to have the highest poker rank possible for bothHenry TamburinHenry Tamburin is the editor and publisher of the Blackjack Insider Newsletter and author of the best-selling Blackjack: Take the Money & Run.  He is also the lead Instructor for the Golden Touch Blackjack course, a feature writer for Casino Player magazine (and 6 other publications); an owner of a casino gambling publishing company ( and the host of For a free three month subscription to the Henry's Blackjack Insider Newsletter with full membership privileges go to  Henry's website is  hands so that hopefully both of your hands will beat both of the banker hands.

The Table below contains a basic playing strategy for pai gow poker to improve your chances of winning. The first column lists the type of 7-card hand. The second and third columns summarize how the 7-card hand should be set to form the 5-card and 2-card high hands respectively (note: A = ace).


Since the banker has the natural advantage it is advantageous to be the banker as much as possible. However, when you are the banker you must have a sufficient bankroll to bank all the bets made by your fellow players.

Normally, the casino dealer will open the game as the banker. In subsequent hands, players can request to be the banker. A small plastic marker (called a chung)is placed in front of the banker’s betting area to designate that this player is the banker.

The casino banking rules vary greatly. Some casinos allow the same player to be the banker on every other hand or a maximum of 2 consecutive hands. Others will allow a player to bank only once out of every 8 or the extreme 14th hand.

Because the rules for banking differ it’s important that you shop around. Your goal is to bank as many hands as the casino will allow because that is the only way you can get the edge.

Just because you bank and have the edge doesn’t mean you won’t take your lumps. A few losses to players can put a severe dent in your bankroll. Therefore, it’s important you have enough bankroll to withstand a couple of losing hands.

Bottom Line

When the casino dealer is the banker, the casino edge in pai gow poker is about 2.8%. By skillfully setting your hands you can reduce the casino’s edge to about 2.5%. By being the banker as much as possible and betting as small as possible when you are the player, it is possible to have a slight monetary edge playing pai gow poker (about 0.2%). A smart player, therefore, should bank as much as possible and learn how to correctly set the hands. That’s the secret to winning at pai gow poker.


7-Card Hand Dealt

2-Card Low Hand

5-Card High Hand

No pairs
2nd and 3rd highest ranked cards
highest ranked card
One pair
two highest ranked cards
Two Pair *
low ranked pair
high ranked pair
Three pair
highest ranked pair
two lowest ranked pairs
2 highest ranked cards
Straight, Flush, or Straight Flush
2 remaining cards
in low hand
straight, flush, or straight flush
Full House
Four 2’s through 6’s
2 highest ranked cards
Four 7’s through A’s ***
one pair
one pair
Five A’s
pair of aces
three aces
 *      If you have a single ace, keep the ace in the low hand and the two pair in the high hand.

** If you have three aces, keep one ace in the low hand and the other two aces in the high hand.

*** If you have a single ace and four 7 through 10’s, keep the ace in the low hand and the four-of-a-kind in the high hand.

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