Pai Gow Poker is a game of Asian origin that is often classified as casino poker. The player and the dealer are dealt seven cards and both form a five card hand and a two card hand, subject to certain rules. These hands are compared according to normal poker hand rankings and both the player’s hands have to be of a higher ranking for the player to win.
Pai Gow Poker is one of the few online casino games in which the player makes a decision other than placing a wager. There is skill involved in balancing the two hands so as to first give the player the maximum chance of winning both. If that seems unlikely then the player has to aim for winning at least one hand so that the wager is a push. This level of skill involvement has raised the popularity of Pai Gow Poker to beyond games like roulette or baccarat that reduce the player almost to the level of a spectator. This is the reason that most online gaming software providers today have Pai Gow Poker in their suite of casino games. This raises the question of deciding at which online casino to play Pai Gow Poker.
Some players do not give themselves a choice. They have registered at only one online casino because of the bonuses and promotions offered or for any other reason. Hence they are bound to play the Pai Gow Poker game offered by that online casino. However most online players register at a number of online casinos and usually these different casinos are powered by different online gaming software providers. Therefore these players can evaluate the Pai Gow Poker games offered by the different software providers and make a considered choice.
All Pai Gow Poker games are essentially the same. They have the same rules and payouts. But there are subtle differences that may escape notice at first. Two differences are important in making a choice. Some online gaming software providers incorporate a feature known as the House Way. The player, if he wants to, can allow the software to split his seven cards into the two hands. Using the House Way has certain advantages and disadvantages. The disadvantage is that it eliminates the skill element from the game and this is a let down for many expert players. The advantage is that it ensures optimum splitting of the cards, which is a boon to newbie players. It is important to realize that the House Way feature is optional and the player is not bound to use it. The ideal way of using the House Way feature is as follows. The player should first mentally split the cards on his own and then use the House Way feature. That way he can not only exercise his skill but also test whether his decision was perfect and all this without taking any risk.
Pai Gow Poker takes a commission from the player’s winnings. The commission is uniformly 5%. If the player wins $1 then the casino pays out only $0.95. Some online gaming software providers have built in a minimum commission into their Pai Gow Poker game. Say the minimum commission is $0.25. If the player wins $1 then the casino pays out only $0.75 and not $0.95. In this case the casino’s commission is $0.25, which amounts to 25%. In order not to lose out because of this stipulation a minimum bet of $5 is required.
In conclusion, players should opt for those Pai Gow Poker games that offer the House Way feature and do not charge a minimum commission on winnings.