Optimal Strategy for Pai Gow Poker by Stanford Wong

Pai gow poker uses a deck of 53 cards (joker for aces, straights, and flushes). You are dealt seven cards that you must separate into a five-card hand and a two-card hand. The only restriction is that your five-card hand must have higher poker value than your two-card hand. Pai gow poker is one-on-one, player against banker. You can be player or you can be banker; being banker is better.

If banker’s five-card hand has equal or higher poker value than player’s five-card hand, and banker’s two-card hand has equal or higher poker value than player’s two-card hand, banker wins the bet.

If player’s five-card hand has higher poker value than banker’s five-card hand, and player’s two-card hand has higher poker value than banker’s two-card hand, player wins.

If banker’s five-card hand is higher than player’s five-card hand but player’s two-card hand is higher than banker’s two-card hand, no money changes hands. Same if player’s five card hand is higher than banker’s, but banker’s two-card hand is higher than player’s.

From these rules you can see that the banker’s edge is that the banker wins “copies” -- situations where the hands have equal poker value. For example, banker’s ace-high straight beats player’s ace-high straight.

The 160-page Optimal Strategy for Pai Gow Poker explains how to set every possible seven-card hand into hands of five and two cards. It also explains how to get an edge at the game in card casinos in jurisdictions such as California where the fee for playing is a flat dollar amount, rather than 5% of winning bets as is the case in Nevada and Atlantic City.

The price is $9.95 plus shipping (plus sales tax if sent to a Nevada address). Stanford Wong’s Optimal Strategy for Pai Gow Poker is available from: