Themed after the popular Chinese card game of Pai Gow, this unique variation of poker is quite a game changer. The game of Pai Gow Poker includes elements of other poker games in terms of determining hands strengths but also uses some features that are more commonly found in Chinese gambling games.
For starters, Pai Gow Poker is played with a deck of 53 cards, the final card being a Joker which can be applied to complete a flush or substitute for an ace. The player and the dealer are dealt seven cards each and the player goes first. The player must choose two cards to split away from his main hand, thus creating one five card hand and one two card hand.
The five card hand must always be better than the two card hand. Once the player has made his split, the dealer’s hand is also exposed. Both the five card and the two card hands are compared and winners are chosen based on regular poker hand rankings. If the dealer wins one hand and the player wins the other, the hand is declared a push. If the player wins both hands, he gets his money doubled, minus a small commission which tends to be at the 2.5% mark, which makes up all of the casino edge.
Pai Gow Poker does not give the casinos any real advantage in terms of hand strengths. In most variations, the player will even be able to select the house way option, which will automatically make the mathematically best choice on his behalf as to which two cards to split away.
On the other hand, the 2.5% commission which is charged on all wins will create a dent in the players’ pockets over time, especially during bad streaks. Nevertheless, long winning streaks are a real possibility in Pai Gow Poker, which makes this game one of the most lucrative poker games you could play in an online casino and certainly one of the fairest.