Pai Gow Poker Odds

One of the things that really drives pai gow poker odds is knowing the chance of winning for each of the hands that you're creating with your seven cards. What we want to do here is give you an idea of what the chances are of your hand winning whether it's a two-card hand in the low or a five-card hand in the high. With two-card hands in particular, it's very anti-intuitive to know the chances of winning in general, and that's why we want to get into some real detail when it comes to these different types of hands.

Two-Card Hand Rankings

With two-card back hands in pai gow poker, you have to create either a pair or a high-card hand that's lower than the five-card high hand. The house way will create a certain distribution of hands over time, so you'll be able to know your chances of winning with a specific hand just by knowing what your cards are if you know how the house distribution for two-card hands works out. There are complicated, mathematical charts out there that can do this for you, but we're going to give you these pai gow poker odds in a format that's much easier to understand.

The key thing to realize is that the king-high hands are the critical hands in this game. Having the best queen-high hand QJ means that you'll beat the dealer 27.3 percent of the time. However, having the best king-high hand KQ means you'll beat the dealer a whooping 45.3 percent of the time. Any ace-high hand has more than 50 percent of a chance of winning with A2 having a 51.9 percent chance of beating the dealer's low. Along similar lines, AK has an enormous 64.6 percent chance of winning. With pairs, the distribution is a bit uneven as well, and having 99 gives you a 91.8 percent chance of coming out on top.

Five-Card Pai Gow Poker Odds

The five-card hand distributions are a bit more difficult to remember. For players who want to achieve the expert level of play, we recommend learning a handful of reference points that we're going to flesh out here. A9-high is the first hand to have more than 10 percent chance of winning against the dealer's high hand, and that hand has an 11.3 percent winning probability.

Moving right along, 55 is a key hand because it's the first hand that has more than a one-fourth chance of coming out on top with an exact winning percentage of about 26.0 percent. You don't have to look much further to find the break-even hand of QQ, the first hand to have more than one-half of a chance to win in the high with its 54.2 percent chance to win.

To have at least a three-fourths chance of winning, you'll need to have at least two pair or better. The very worst two pair, threes over twos, has a 75.0 percent chance of beating the dealer. This is pretty easy to remember.

As far as pai gow poker odds for advanced players go, the last reference point you'll need to remember is that you need at least a straight to have a 90 percent chance of winning. The worst straight in pai gow poker is six-high (not five-high because of the atypical rule for A2345), and a six-high straight has about a 90 percent chance of beating the dealer's five-card hand.

How These Odds Affect Strategy

In the game of pai gow poker, your goal is to maximize the value of both of your hands together instead of trying to maximize the chances of winning with just one. You do this by maximizing a number called the total gap. Each of your two hands has a gap, and you combine them to get the total gap.

The gap for a single hand is the chance that you win minus the chance that the dealer wins. For example, if your chance of winning with KT in the low is 64 percent, then the dealer's chance of winning is 36 percent, and the gap is 64 - 36 which is 28. Along similar lines, if your chance of winning in the high was 55 percent, then the gap would be 55 - 45 which is 10, and your total gap would be 38.

This approach works really well for people who want to really analyze their hands, but knowing the odds and reference points that we've discussed above is necessary for being able to do this type of analysis since you need an accurate idea of your chances of winning with any particular high or low hand.

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