Transitioning from Blackjack to Pai Gow Poker

Poker players looking for a fun twist on the standard draw and hold’em poker rules are gravitating towards Pai Gow. Also known as double-hand poker, Pai Gow deals the player seven cards to make two poker hands which will go head-to-head with the dealer.

Players are dealt a five-card poker hand known as the behind, and a two-card hand known as the front. If both pai gow hands beat the dealer, the player wins. If only one beats the dealer, the game is ruled a push and bets are returned. And if both poker hands lose, the dealer wins and takes the bet.

Imagine going to Vegas, sitting down in the WSOP, and playing two hands of poker at the same time. That doesn't happen at the Rio, unless you've found a way to clone yourself. Everyone really gets just one hand in Texas Hold'em poker while they fight for big money.

But when you play Pai Gow, whether at Las Vegas casinos or at US online casino sites, you get to live the dream of playing multiple hands of poker simultaneously.

Pai Gow Poker, available at US online casinos like those sites where you can play blackjack online, offers you the chance to go head-to-head with the house with two separate hands.

The basics are easy to understand. Much like online play blackjack, your goal in Pai Gow is to have a better hand than the dealer. But unlike blackjack, the number 21 doesn't really make much of a difference. Pai Gow Poker is, as its name suggests, a poker game.

In a nutshell, you're dealt seven cards. Your job is to make two hands out of those seven cards—a 5-card hand and a 2-card hand. The dealer is also dealt seven cards. His are dealt face down and only revealed at the conclusion of the game. Your two hands need to be higher than the dealer's two hands for you to win.

Pai Gow is played using a regular deck of cards. Unlike when you play blackjack online, there aren't multiple decks to worry about. Every shoe contains 53 cards. We know what you're thinking. There are 52 cards in a deck, right? You're correct. You're not going crazy. But in Pai Gow Poker, there's a Joker thrown into the mix.

That means the ordinary poker hand ranking system you might be used to is slightly different, thanks to the presence of a Joker. Here's the ranking system to keep in mind as you play.

5-Card Poker Hands

Note that because of the Joker, there's a possibility of a 5-card hand:
Five Aces
Royal Flush
Straight Flush
4 of a kind
Full House
3 of a kind
2 pair
1 pair
High card

Ready to play Pai Gow Poker?

Before you sit down at a US player casino, there are a few things you should know.

First, both of your hands must be higher than the dealer's. Unlike when you play blackjack online, there's no such thing as a push in Pai Gow Poker. Ties work in favor of the dealer.

Secondly, you must be careful to make sure your 5-card hand is higher than your 2-card hand. If it's not, you could end up losing.