Best Pai Gow Poker Sites

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What to Consider When Choosing a Pai Gow Poker Site

While many casino games and their more recent variants can be traced back to Europe and America, pai gow is a game that is steeped in ancient Chinese history. The original game can be traced all the way back to the Song Dynasty, which ruled the country from 960 until 1279. The title roughly translates to “make nine”, which is the aim of the game.

What is Pai Gow?

Pai Gow is a popular casino game played around the world. It splits 32 dominos among eight players, each receiving four dominos with which they need to make two hands of two titles each. Both of the player’s hands, known as the front and back hands, must be higher than the dealer’s in order to win the game. Winning one of the two hands returns the wager, while losing both hands means losing that round.

The complexity of the domino version was largely lost on western gamblers, with few casinos offering the game. However, with the rising popularity of poker in the mid-1980s came an adaptation of pai gow using cards. It became known as pai gow poker, or double-hand poker, and was the perfect fusion of eastern and western gaming.

Yet while they share the name, the games are decidedly different. Players of online pai gow poker are dealt seven cards, from which they must make two hands, one comprised of five cards, the second with the remaining two. The winning scenarios remain the same, but pai gow remains one of the few card games where players bet against both the dealer and other players.

Variations of Pai Gow

Although a recent creation, pai gow poker has generated several variants. Choose from the most common versions to find the right one for your style:

  • Fortune is one of the most popular versions of the game, and adds the option of a side bet on the value of the player’s seven cards. Players may also receive an Envy bonus if any of the other players hold four-of-a-kind or higher.
  • No Push sees the dealer place down two additional cards, one for the players and one for themselves. Should the game result in a tie, these cards will be turned over to determine the winner. It also forgoes the 5% commission on winnings.
  • Progressive pai gow poker adds a twist to the game with a progressive jackpot side bet. Players have the option of paying into the side bet, and will win some or all depending on the value of their seven-card hand.
  • Pai gow mania plays the same, but also has two side bets in motion alongside the main game. The first is upon the value of the first three cards dealt, while the second is on all seven cards in total.

Where to Play Pai Gow Poker

When choosing an online casino to play pai gow, players should consider a number of factors. The first option is whether to play the original Chinese pai gow game, sometimes referred to as pai gow tiles, or the more modern pai gow poker. Few websites will offer the former, but almost all will offer the poker version.

As the game is still overshadowed by the like of Texas Hold ’em and Omaha Hi-Lo in terms of popularity, many online casinos may offer the game to play for free, so that players fresh to the game can attune themselves to the tempo before placing any bets.

Players should also consider whether they wish to play the standard game, or enter into one of the several variants with the side bets. Like the original game, the side bets can be quite daunting to new players, while experienced players may welcome more chances to win. Some casinos may only offer popular variants like Fortune, while others may list other types to try, including Dragon Hand and Jokolor, which was created in the UK and involves a joker side bet.

Safety and Security

As always, you should check whether the site you're using is secure and will protect your data. Reputable sites will display an icon denoting their affiliation with companies like eCOGRA, who ensure fair play, as well as offer secure payment methods like PayPal.

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