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Pai Gow Poker is a relatively simple game to play that can be optimized with a strategy that focuses on the arrangement of one's cards and the ratio of player hands to banker hands. It is a fun and slow-paced game that results in many tie hands, consequently requiring great patience and chess-like bearing. Most dedicated Pai Gow Poker players use what is called the Short Strategy, while the even more serious players use the Long Strategy, which can only be covered in multiple pages of instruction. The Short Strategy is quite adequate for most players, however, and safely covers over 85% of all dealt hands. If after learning the rules below, you find an attraction to Pai Gow Poker, we recommend you consult a good strategy resource.
As for the rules of Pai Gow, all games begin with each player making a wager (usually a $10 minimum in Vegas casinos). After doing so, the dealer will commence to deal every player seven cards total. All seats are dealt a hand even if there is no player in the seat, which is because the Bank must rotate from player to player (including the dealer) every seventh hand. (The casino knows that being the Bank has its advantages, and so keeps a players chances of being the Bank to a minimum). All players will then separate their cards into a five-card hand and a two-card hand. When the arranging of cards is completed, the Banker's cards are arranged according to a standard called the House Way. Although this may vary from casino to casino, online casinos generally follow a universal House Way that is fair.
After all cards are dealt, players will then arrange their hands into two hands - a five card and a two card. The objective is to get two poker hands out of all seven cards. Keep in mind, however, that the five card hand must always be better than the two-card hand. If not, the bet is forfeited to the casino. After all hands have been set, all cards are turned over - the two-card hand above the five-card hand. The dealer will then reveal their two-card and five-card hands, which are compared to the players according to standard poker hand rankings. In order for the player to win money (with a 5% commission paid to the casino), both the two-card hand and five-card hand must beat the banker hands. If only one of the hands wins, the game is considered a tie, or push. If both hands lose or tie, the player loses and the tie goes to the banker. All tie hands are won by the banker, which is precisely why it is advantageous to be the Banker.
Keep in mind that when acting as the Banker, your bankroll must be able to cover all the bets on the table (You are essentially acting as the casino). If you win as the Banker, you have essentially beat all the other players at the table and are paid out even money, minus a 5% commission of your net aggregate winnings. If other players at the table decline on being the Banker, many casinos will let the willing players be Banker up to every other hand.