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Pai Gow Poker is one of the newer casino games, and a rather unique creation compared to the rest of the gambling portfolio you can usually encounter online. It was invented in 1985 by Sam Torosian in Southern California and it is based on the Chinese Domino game Pai Gow, with some 7-Card Stud elements added.
The game is simple and quick to learn, although it is described as slow-paced casino format with low risk. Pai Gow Poker is a game of skill, but it also relies on strategy that is quite obvious in most cases.
The game is played with a 53 card deck - don’t be alarmed, it is a regular 52-card deck plus one Joker. Here, the Joker has some qualities of a Wild, but not in every situation. That’s why it is referred to as the semi Wild. The Joker can act as Ace, or a card that completes a Straight, Flush, or Straight Flush, or Royal Flush.
The player needs to put up a stake before each round starts and then he or she will receive 7 cards.
The objective is to make two poker hands - one 5-card hand and one 2-card hand. Both the hands need to beat the software in order to win. However, of only one of the two is a winning hand, then that’s called a push. It’s the player’s decision to arrange the cards into two hands in whatever way he/she feels most appropriate. The small hand is only allowed to have two high cards or a pair.
The big hand needs to be higher in rank, so make sure you don’t ‘foul your hand’ because that’s one of the ways to lose in Pai Gow Poker. The main, five-card hand is ranked according to conventional poker rules.
In the event of either hand being a tie with the virtual dealer, the dealer wins. The way the game was conceived makes it impossible for the player to lose money if just one of the hands is better than the dealer’s. Because of that, players usually split the hands in a way which gives them the strongest possible two-card hand, one that doesn’t outrank the five-card hand.
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Some of the advices more experienced players give to novices are: always split five Aces including Joker, unless you also have a pair of Kings; always keep Four of a Kind of 6s or lower together; always play Straights and Flushes in your five-card hand unless you also have two pair and there’s more in strategy charts.
The house edge in Pau Gow Poker is rather low to begin with. It can be reduced even more (about 2.8%) if you master the skill of managing your hands optimally. Wins pay 1:1 odds. According to statistics, which consider all seven cards and don’t enter the parameter of player’s handling, the probability of forming a Royal Flush in Pai Gow Poker is 0.00136862, while the probability of forming a single pair is 0.41663862.