Pai Gow Poker for Canadians

Pai gow poker is a variant of traditional poker and can be found at many online casinos. Unlike card games like blackjack and other variations of poker, pai gow poker has a slow pace, making it easier to learn. The game is played with 53 cards, the 53rd card being a joker, and in some cases a set of dice. Played at land-based and online casinos, pai gow poker makes room for 2 to 7 players. But, unlike other variants of poker, pai gow has you playing against the dealer, not other players.

Pai Gow Poker Casinos in Canada

Playamo Casino

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How Do You Play Pai Gow Poker?

Pai gow poker table with face up cards and face down cards

When playing this type of poker, 7 cards are dealt to each player, including the banker/dealer. In the case of online casinos, the banker and dealer are the same. In games where 7 poker hands are dealt, the remaining 4 cards are placed in a discard pile.

Before any of this happens though, you must place an ante bet, to buy in to the game. Now it’s time to make some decisions. You must split your cards into two poker hands, a five-card hand and a two-card hand. Just like traditional poker, the hands and card values in pai gow poker are the same. The King, Queen, Jack and Ace rank highest, while two through 10 hold face values.

Two-Card Hand

aka in front, on top, hair, small, minor or low

Five-Card Hand

aka behind, bottom, high or big

When making your big hand and small hand, your big hand must be better than your small hand. So,  you can’t have a pair of aces in your small hand and only a pair of fives in your big hand.

Why would you would consider making your small hand superior to your big hand? Well, because your performance when you play pai gow poker is based on both hands, meaning each of them must beat the dealer. It’s often tempting to use a great pair for your two-card to increase your chances of beating the house’s small hand.

If you break the rules and make your two-card better than your five-card, the game is nullified or lost altogether depending on the casino. Often times online casino versions of the game will prevent this from happening altogether.

Rules of Pai Gow Poker

As you may have already noticed, pai gow is a bit different from Texas Hold’em, Caribbean Stud or 3 card poker. Here’s a little breakdown of the basic rules for pai gow poker:

  • To win, you need to beat both of the dealer’s poker hands (small and big).
  • The seven cards need to be split into two hands, a low two-card hand and a high five-card hand.
  • The big hand must be better than it’s two-card sibling.
  • The dealer then uses the “house-way” rule where they will divide and turn over their hand of poker cards. This rule varies from casino to casino.
  • The two high hands and the two low hands are then compared.
  • The poker hand with the higher value will wins.
  • If there is a tie, the dealer wins, like in blackjack.
  • In this poker variant, players are able to make bets against each other as well as the dealer; this rule is unique to this particular poker variant. When playing pai gow at an online casino, bets can only be made against the dealer.
  • Throughout the game, different players can take on the role of the banker—Only when you play pai gow poker at a land-based casino.
  • A player, at any point, is able to decline the role of the banker, to which the position will be given to the next available player. This, does not apply at online casinos, only when you play pai gow at a brick-and-mortar casino.

Strategizing in Pai Gow Poker

This variant of poker makes it very difficult for you to strategize. Because all of the opposing cards are unseen, it’s difficult to choose your best ones. The house edge in this casino game favours the house a bit more aggressively than other types of poker. Tha, suggest that you choose to be the banker, that is if you aren’t playing at an online casino. By being the banker you get some advantages. For example, in the case of a tie with another player, you are the winner.

The Joker is a semi-wild card. This means that it can be used in place of an Ace to complete a straight, flush, straight flush or royal flush. Overall, the Joker is a very important element in this poker game, as it increases your chances of winning. So, when you do receive a joker, you’ll likely want to use it for your five-card poker hand.

Pai Gow Poker in a Nutshell

If you love online poker, pai gow poker is a great way to enjoy traditional poker with a twist. Providing Canadian online casino players with endless entertainment and winning opportunities. This table game captures the heart of many Canadian gamblers, both old and new. That is why we, at Maple Casino, would recommend trying this poker game out; you won’t regret it!


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