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How to Play Pai Gow Poker


If you play poker or even video poker, you will love Pai Gow Poker. And the best part is that you already know the basics.


In addition, Pai Gow Poker offers the player the unique opportunity to turn the tables on the house. That is, each player, in turn, has the option to bank bets against all other players including the dealer. A player may have the option of “co-banking”, the player and the house split the wins or losses of all hands against other players at the table.

Our Pai Gow Poker dealers and supervisors will be happy to assist you in learning this fast, easy game.


Pai Gow Poker combines elements of the ancient Chinese game of Pai Gow and the American game of poker. The game is played with a traditional deck of 52 playing cards, plus one joker. THE JOKER CAN BE USED ONLY AS AN ACE, OR TO COMPLETE A STRAIGHT, A FLUSH, A STRAIGHT FLUSH OR A ROYAL FLUSH.


Each player at the table is dealt seven cards, which the player arranges to make two hands; a two-card hand and five-card hand. Pai Gow Poker is essentially two separate poker hands according to traditional poker rankings. Thus, the highest two-card hand would be two Aces, and the highest five-card hand is five Aces (four Aces and the joker).

The five-card hand must be equal to or higher than the two-card hand.


Your two-card hand must rank higher than your opponent’s two-card hand and your five-card hand must rank higher than your opponent’s five-card hand. If the player’s hand wins, the player will be paid the same amount wagered less a 5% commission. The dealer will collect the commission when the winning wager is paid. Should one hand rank exactly the same as your opponent’s hand, this is a tie. Ties are also called copy hands, and the banker wins all copy hands.

If you win one hand but lose the other, this is considered a “push.” In push hands no money is won or lost.


The house dealer or any player may be the banker. Before a player may be permitted to bank a round of play, the dealer shall determine that:

  • 1. The player placed a wager against the dealer during the last round of play in which there was no player banking the game; and 
  • 2. The player has sufficient gaming chips on the table to cover all of the wagers placed by other players at the table for that round of play.

All players bet against the bank. (The bank is offered to each player and each player may accept or pass, in which case the bank is offered to the next player. The dealer will always take the bank in turn, then all players are again offered the bank until the dealer banks again.) The banker will be identified by a black plastic marker with white lettering.

A dice cup containing three dice is shaken at least three times by the banker to determine who receives the first card. Prior to shaking the Pai Gow Poker shaker, all bets must be on the appropriate area before the dealer announces “no more bets.” In Pai Gow Poker, the banker’s position is always 1,8 or 15. The dealer counts from the banker’s position. The cards will then be dealt by the dealer to each betting area regardless if a player is present (including the dealer) in a clockwise rotation from the starting point indicated by the dice.

As an alternative to the Pai Gow Shaker and dice, Borgata may play the game of Pai Gow Poker with a computerized random number generator that automatically selects and displays a number from 1 through 7 inclusive.

Each player then arranges their cards into a two-card hand and a five-card hand. The house dealer does not look at the cards until all players and or player banker have set a high and low hand and placed the two hands face down on the appropriate area of the layout, the player may not touch the cards again. The house dealer then turns their cards over and sets their hand in front of the tray face up.

The player/bankers hand is compared to the dealer’s hand first (See OBJECT OF THE GAME).

Winning hands are left lying face up next to the betting circle. For losing hands, the wager is picked up by the dealer and the cards are placed in the discard holder. If the player wins one hand and loses the other, this is considered a push. No money exchanges hands and the cards are placed in the discarded holder.


Once the player has set a high and low hand and placed the two hands face down on the appropriate area of the layout, the player may not touch the cards again.

Players are not allowed to show their hands or talk to other players about their hands before all cards are exposed.

Each player must keep the cards in full view of the dealer at all times.

Any player’s hand that is set incorrectly (e.g. the two-card hand ranks higher than the five-card high hand, or player puts three cards in one hand and four cards in the other) is an automatic loser. Players are responsible for arranging their own hands and should do so with care.

Neither house bank nor the player/bank may set an automatic losing hand. The hand must be reset according to the House Way.

The house dealer will explain the rankings and assist you in arranging your hands the House Way, but is not responsible for wins or losses. The House Way is Borgata's set of rules determining how the dealer must set his/her hand or those of novice players asking for help.