If you are a poker player that has ever walked past the table games pit in a casino, you might have seen a couple of games that look a lot like traditional poker. In the industry, these are known as poker derivative games.
The poker derivative game market is exploding as we have games like 3 Card Poker, Ultimate Texas Hold ‘Em, and High Card Flush that are quickly becoming some of the most popular games in the casino. For my money, the best game amongst these poker derivative games is one of the oldest casino poker games around, pai gow poker.
The real question that many true poker players have on their minds right now as they see more and more of these games pop up on the casino floor is, is pai gow poker like poker? In this article we are going to tell you a little bit about what pai gow poker is, and then answer the question all traditional poker players are asking, is pai gow like poker?
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What Is Pai Gow?
Before we get too deep into comparing pai gow to poker, first we are going to want to talk a little bit about what pai gow poker actually is! As we already mentioned, pai gow is what we call a poker derivative game, as it derives from traditional 5-card poker, with some added twists.
The second major difference between pai gow and Texas Hold ‘Em is that pai gow has 7 cards where you make 2 poker hands, a 5-card hand, and a 2-card hand, whereas in traditional poker you only make a single 5-card hand.
How Is Pai Gow Played?
The first thing that you are going to have to do when you sit down to play pai gow, is make your bets. The standard bet is a bet on whether or not both of your hands are going to beat both of the dealer’s hands.
In order to play, you must make the main bet, and the fortune bonus bet is optional, but trust me, you are going to want to play the bonus.
The only stipulation is that your 5-card hand, also known as your bottom hand, must outrank your 2-card hand, also known as your top hand. If your top hand outranks your bottom hand, your hand is fouled, and you immediately lose.
Your bottom hand is your 5-card poker hand and you set it just like you would a standard poker hand. Pairs, straights, flushes, and full houses are all the same here as they would be in a game of Texas Hold ‘Em.
Your top hand is made up of just 2-cards, and instead of using traditional poker rankings, the top hand is based on the rank of the cards only. All pairs play, with a pair of aces being the best top hand possible and if there are no pairs in your top hand, your highest card plays.
Once your hands have been set, the dealer will then reveal their cards and set their hands based on a predetermined set of house rules.
Then the dealer will compare each of your hands against each of their hands and determine if you win, lose, or push.
Any bonus bet wins will also be paid out at this time, with 3 of a kind or better needed to get a bonus. Your bonus payouts are independent of the main bet, and even if you lose the main bet, you will still get paid out.
Is Pai Gow Like Poker?
Now that you know what pai gow poker is and how it is played, we can answer the question, is pai gow like poker? This isn’t an easy question to answer, as pai gow is certainly like poker in many aspects, as you are literally making poker hands.
Poker is appealing to many players as it is one of the few games in the casino where you can use your brain to outsmart your opponents and have a significant edge. This distinction alone is enough for me to say that pai gow is kinda sorta like poker, but that if you are a serious poker player, you may not feel the same way.
Pai gow is one of those games that takes a minute to learn and a lot longer to master, and players that enjoy the challenge of learning to play poker at a high level, will also welcome the challenge of learning pai gow.
Even though pai gow isn’t really that much like poker, it is going to be a game that many poker players, particularly the casual ones, are going to enjoy playing.
Pai gow is a thinking game, and poker players love to use their minds to make money.
Online pai gow can be a ton of fun, as it offers all of the same excitement and action as the brick-and-mortar version, with higher payouts, better odds, and a much faster pace.
Thank you for reading and good luck chasing those fortune bonuses at pai gow!