Pai Gow Poker Hand Rankings Explained

Understanding the fundamentals of Pai Gow Poker hand rankings is essential for anyone looking to master this unique and engaging casino game. Whether you are a seasoned poker player or a curious beginner, comprehending the ranking of hands can significantly improve your gameplay and increase your chances of winning. In this article, we will break down the basics of Pai Gow Poker hand rankings, offering you a clear and comprehensive guide.

What is Pai Gow Poker?

Pai Gow Poker is a popular casino card game that combines elements of ancient Chinese Pai Gow and classic American poker. The game is played with a standard 52-card deck plus a single joker. Each player receives seven cards, which they must split into two hands: a five-card “high” hand and a two-card “low” hand. The goal is to have both of your hands rank higher than the dealer’s corresponding hands.

Pai Gow Poker Hand Rankings

In Pai Gow Poker, hand rankings follow traditional poker rules for both the high hand and the low hand. Here’s a breakdown of the standard hand rankings:

Hand Description
Five Aces Four aces plus the joker
Royal Flush A, K, Q, J, 10 of the same suit
Straight Flush Five consecutive cards of the same suit
Four of a Kind Four cards of the same rank
Full House Three cards of one rank and two cards of another rank
Flush Five cards of the same suit
Straight Five consecutive cards of different suits
Three of a Kind Three cards of the same rank
Two Pair Two sets of pairs of different ranks
One Pair Two cards of the same rank
High Card Highest card in hand if no other combination

Special Rules for the Joker

The joker in Pai Gow Poker serves a unique purpose. It can act as an ace or to complete a straight or flush. This flexibility can be a game-changer when forming your high and low hands.

Strategy Tips for Winning at Pai Gow Poker

Here are some essential strategies to enhance your Pai Gow Poker play:

  • Always set your low hand as strong as possible without weakening your high hand.
  • Remember that the house edge can vary depending on how you arrange your hands.
  • Understand that ties between a player’s and dealer’s hands result in a push, where neither wins nor loses.
  • Utilize the joker strategically, especially in creating straights and flushes.


Mastering Pai Gow Poker hand rankings is crucial to becoming a successful player. By understanding how hands are ranked and practicing strategic placement of your cards, you can enjoy a more rewarding gaming experience. Keep these tips and tricks in mind the next time you encounter Pai Gow Poker at your favorite casino, and may the odds be ever in your favor!

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