Pai Gow Poker Odds and Strategy

Published on: December 22, 2011 

Pai Gow Poker is a simple poker based online casino game. The player makes his ante wager and is dealt seven cards. He cannot fold or raise but has to play through the hand. He has to partition the seven cards into two hands, one with five cards and the other with two cards. Then the dealer does the same with his cards. The five card hands and the two card hands are compared independently. If the player wins both he receives the payout. If he wins one and loses one then it is a tie and his bet pushes. If he loses both then he loses his bet.

Based on the condition that the player partitions his hand using optimum strategy, the probabilities of the outcomes are as follows. The probability that the player will win is 28.6%. The probability that the hand will end in a tie is 41.8%. The probability that the player will lose is 29.9%. The win lose situation is fairly evenly balanced. The mathematical payout should be lust less than even money. Usually the actual payouts are less than the mathematical payouts because the casino needs the house edge to meet its costs. In Pai Gow Poker the mechanism used is giving a pay out of even money. This makes the calculations simple. Then a house commission is levied on the payout, which is usually 5%. The net payout is 0.95 to 1. The net house edge works out to about 1.5%. This is better than European Roulette from the player’s point of view but not as good as baccarat and blackjack.

In most versions of online Pai Gow Poker the player has the option of partitioning his hand on his own or using the House Way. The House way automatically uses the optimum strategy built into the software. Hence the online casino player can get away without making any strategy decisions. However, many players do not like to follow the House Way because it takes away the satisfaction and the enjoyment from the wagering. An important strategy tip is being given below for such players.

The most difficult hand to partition is the one containing two pairs. The strategy in all other hands is straightforward and is not being discussed in this article. The dilemma in the hand with two pairs is whether to keep both pairs in the five card hand or split the pairs over the two hands. Generally, keeping both pairs in the five card hand makes the five card hand very strong but weakens the two card hand. Splitting pairs makes the two card hand practically unassailable but weakens the five card hand considerably. The optimum strategy depends on the ranking of the non-pair cards.

A low pair is defined as ranked from 2 through 6. A medium pair is defined as ranked from 7 through 10 and a high pair is defined as ranked from jack through ace. Two low pairs are split unless the player holds a king or better in the other cards. The same applies for a low pair and a medium pair. A low pair and a high pair are split unless the player holds an ace in the other cards. The same applies for two medium pairs All other pair combinations are always split. Players must remember that the five card hand has to be higher ranked than the two card hand.

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