Poker is a funny game when it comes to relaxing or putting in serious grind on the felts. The size of the stakes can have an influence on the mood of the game, while being competitive can also change the mood. If you are an avid poker player, you probably want to win whether you are playing for high stakes or low stakes. That means losing is no fun at all, which also means finding a relaxing way to play poker is often a challenge.
In comes a rare poker variant that often gets overlooked or brushed aside. Pai Gow Poker is one of the most relaxing ways to play the world’s most popular card game, even when the stakes are high.
It is a game of 2 hands usually played versus the house while there are some players that still play heads up or in a group. One thing is for sure, Pai Gow is a lot of fun and closely resembles Caribbean Stud Poker and you will see why below!
One reason Pai Gow Poker is so relaxing is because there are quite a few ‘push bets’ in this game. This is because the only way to win is to beat the house with 2 winning hands, while the only way to lose is for the house to beat you with 2 winning hands.
Formulating these 2 winning hands to beat the dealer, or vice versa, is much harder than it sounds, which is the reason there are fewer money swings in this variation of poker. If neither the dealer nor the player wins, all bets ‘push’, and a new hand ensues. What’s more is that there is only 1 bet required for each round.
All of this makes the game slower paced, fun, full of anticipation, and also the perfect table game to make bonus bets on. You can play Pai Gow at most of the major online poker websites that also offer casino table games, which is the large majority of them, and when you sign up you often get a no deposit bonus or welcome bonus and these bonuses can range from 5£ up to 500£.
The game begins with a single bet in order to receive cards—there is no more betting after this stage.
‘Player’ and ‘House’ receive 7 cards each. Players need to split their 7-card hand into a ‘top hand’ and ‘back hand’ before the dealer. The ‘top hand’ is made up of just 2 cards while players create the strongest 5-card high poker hand as the ‘front hand’.
Once the player organises his/her 2 hands, the dealer organises the house ‘top’ and ‘front’ hands before the subsequent showdown. The 5-card hand uses poker’s 5-card high hand rules, while the 2-card hand uses the poker high card system. The best hand a 2-card hand can have is a pair with the next best hand, a simple high hand.
To win, the winner needs to beat the opponent’s ‘top’ and ‘back’ hands. If both hands are not won by a single player, then it is a ‘push bet’ scenario and betting restarts!
Pai Gow predominantly exists as a table game in land-based casinos, but generally only in larger casinos, as smaller gambling establishments prefer to take up their floor space with more popular table games such as roulette and blackjack. If you do find a Pai Gow table in a brick and mortar casino, it is highly likely that it will come with a Pai Gow poker progressive jackpot which adds a little spice to the game.
Other places you can play Pai Gow poker includes online poker sites that also offer casino table games. Some of these sites now offer live Pai Gow table games streamed via web cam so you can play the game in real time versus a real-life dealer. If the live table version is not available, most online poker rooms and casinos will have a virtual version of the game.
In short, Pai Gow is well worth checking out if you are a poker fan and you are looking for a different variant of poker to test out your poker skills or if you are looking for a fun and relaxing variant of poker!