Pai Gow Poker is pronounced “pie gow”. It’s a slow-paced, relaxed gambling game for players who are both skillful and patient. Some people call it double handed poker or Asian poker, and it first became popular in the USA when it was introduced in California casinos in the mid 1980’s. Pai Gow Poker is a combination of pai gow, a Chinese dominoes game, and regular old poker, an American card game. (Although if you don’t know what poker is, you’ve probably been hiding under a rock for the last year.)
Pai Gow Poker is a really cool game, but it’s also an unsung hero, both online and off. Blackjack and slots are considered eternal champions of the gambling halls, and Caribbean Stud and Let It Ride are considered young upstarts that are flashy and cutting edge.
The goal in pai gow poker is to make 2 poker hands that each beat the dealer’s hand. You get 7 cards that you make into a high hand and a low hand. The high hand is 5 cards and the low hand is 2 cards. Sounds complicated doesn’t it? Most people feel like pai gow poker is pretty complex when they first learn about it, but once you get the hang of it, it’s not too bad at all actually. But it’s important to note that since the house edge on the game is only 2.5% against a skillful player, it’s actually a pretty good bet.
Pai Gow Poker was derived from the Asian game of dominoes, and as a result, the biggest fans of the game are Asian players who have some familiarity with the concept. But pai gow poker online and off is becoming more popular throughout a variety of demographics. The reasons for this rise in popularity include being able to handle your own cards, being able to make your own strategic decisions affecting the outcome, and if you have a big enough bankroll, you can play both as the house and the other other players by playing as the bank.
High rollers or casino whales can sometimes be seen wagering thousands at pai gow poker tables. And since it’s a more or less leisurely paced game, newbies can get comfortable with the game fairly easily. Experts can manage their bankroll very effectively because of the pace. Like Let It Ride and Caribbean Poker, Pai Gow Poker games are generally pretty laid back and relaxed.
My suggestion for learning how to play pai gow poker is to get started at an online casino playing the free pai gow poker games available online. You can play for free at the play money tables until you’ve built up your confidence, then you can try some low rolling til you get even more confident. By the time you’ve played a few hands at both the play money tables and then at the real money tables, you’ll be ready to give the pai gow poker tables in Vegas and Reno casinos a whirl.