Pai gow poker is played among up to seven players. One of the players is designated as the player-dealer. (Indicated by a dealer button). Each player is dealt seven cards, which are arranged into two hands. One hand consists of five cards; the other hand consists of two cards. After players have arranged their hands so the five-card hand ranks higher than the two-card hand, the house dealer reveals and arranges the player-dealer’s hand.
Hands then compete, one at a time, as in a blackjack game, against the player-dealer hand. The player-dealer hand competes against player hands clockwise beginning with the hand in an order determined by the shaking of dice.
Double-hand uses poker rankings to compare the two player hands with the two hands of the player-dealer. The player wins if both hands beat those of the player-dealer; the player loses if both hands are beat by those of the player-dealer. If either hand ties that of the player-dealer, this is considered a win for the dealer. The player pushes (neither wins nor loses) if one hand wins and the other hand loses or ties.
PAI GOW POKER IN DETAIL
In Pai Gow poker (also known as double-hand poker), the deck consists of 53 cards, 52 arranged into four suits, spades, hearts, diamonds, and clubs, plus one joker. Unlike bridge and other games, no suit is “worth” more than any other. Each suit consists of 13 cards, ranked, from highest to lowest: ace, king, queen, jack, 10, 9, 8, 7, 6, 5, 4, 3, 2.
An ace can also rank as the lowest card, but only in a 5-high straight. That is, A-K-Q-J-10 is the highest straight, while in this hand, the straight 5-4-3-2-A, the ace is the lowest card.
Five-Card Hand Rankings
Two-Card Hand Rankings
Two-card hands fall into two categories, pair and no pair. The pairs rank from highest, A-A, to lowest, 2-2. The no-pair hands rank from highest, A-K, to lowest, 3-2.
In two-card hands, the joker is just another ace. For example, the hand A♥-joker is a pair of aces and joker-4♣ is the same as any other A-4 combination.
To win, both player hands must rank higher than the player-dealer's two hands.
To lose, both player hands must rank lower than or tie the player-dealer’s two hands. (If either hand ties that of the player-dealer, this is considered a win for the dealer. For example, both player and player-dealer have ace-king as their front hand. The player-dealer wins.)
To push (neither win nor lose, that is, for no money to change hands) one of the player's two hands wins and one loses to or ties the player-dealer's hand. The second illustration shows an example of a tie push.