Pai-Gow Poker is a variation of Pai-Gow tiles,using a 53 card deck in place of the domino looking tiles. It was invented in 1985 by Sam Torosian, who received some bad legal advice and never patented his game. Because of that, there was nothing he could do when competitors started using his game without paying him a single cent, a mistake which cost him hundreds of thousands of dollars.
Now, on to the table layout. It may look confusing at first, but it is really quite simple.
Like I said before, the dealer will use a deck consisting of 53 cards. No, that wasn’t a mistake. The dealer will use a normal 52 card deck with a Joker added to the mix. The Joker card acts as a wild card and can be used to complete any kind of straight or flush. When the Joker is used to complete a flush, it will represent the highest value card that is not already held in that hand. If the Joker card cannot complete any straights or flushes then it turns into an ace. Because this game follows the basic poker concept, it has the same poker hand rankings as normal poker with the only exception being that, in some casinos, the second highest straight is an Ace, 2, 3, 4, 5.
The house edge in Pai-Gow Poker depends on whether you’re banking or not. When you are banking and you play by the house way, you’re essentially playing with no house edge. However, when you’re not banking, the house edge is about 2.9%. If the house allows co-banking, then the house edge comes out to about 1.4%.
Out of the 7 cards that the player receives, they will need to arrange 2 separate poker hands by determining
their best 5-card hand and their 2nd best 2-card hand. The 5-card hand is also known as your “High Hand” or
“Back Hand”, since these 5 cards will contain your highest ranking hand, such as a straight, two pair and so on.
The 2-card hand is also known as your “Low Hand” or “Front Hand”, since these 2 cards will contain your 2nd highest ranking hand, such as a jack, 7 or a pair of nine’s.