Pai Gow Poker House Way

While you're tasked to arrange the cards into a two-card hand and a seven-card hand in pai gow poker, you need to realize that the dealer has to do the same thing. Not only that, but it's the dealer's job to arrange cards in a certain manner known as the pai gow poker house way. The house way is the set of rules the dealer is supposed to use to arrange his own hands, and it can differ from casino to casino. However, what almost all casinos have in common is that you can ask the dealer to arrange your hand according to the house way as well and use that as a starting point for your own strategies.

What is the House Way?

The specifics of the pai gow poker house way can differ from game to game, but there are certain types of hands that are always played the same way. For example, you'll always play hands with seven unpaired cards with no flush or straight in the same way. The house way for these hands is to always put the second- and third-highest cards together to form the two-card hand, and the remaining five cards are used for the high.

A lot of what's involved in learning the house way is variations on this same strategy. For example, the house way in all games for playing a single pair with no flush or straight is to put the pair in the high and the two highest kickers in the low. The three remaining kickers, which are largely irrelevant to the scoring of the hand, are put with the pair in the high.

Differences in House Ways

If you look at different versions of the pai gow poker house way, the method used to figure out how to play two pair hands with no flush or straight is typically one of the areas where you'll see the most difference. The reason for this is that there are competing objectives in play.

The first objective is to try to give the dealer something easy enough to remember. They have a lot to keep up with at the table, and learning an ultra-complicated set of rules for placing their hands would only add to the difficulty of the job. What's more is that the house advantage doesn't increase very much (less than a quarter of a percentage point) in these situations, even when the players are playing perfectly.

The other objective is that they want to keep dealers playing the games as well as they can. A quarter of a percentage point might not sound like much, but it can make a big difference to the bottom line in a game where the average house advantage is in the range of 2.5 percent. In that case, an increase of 0.25 percent is really a 10 percent increase of the house edge. This is why the pai gow poker house way is so important in the overall value of the games.

The Player Perspective

From the perspective of the players, online casinos will typically have buttons that allow you to have the dealer arrange your hand according to this house way. While you can ask for this in live dealer casinos, it usually slows down the game to some degree, and doing it repeatedly is frowned upon.

The house way is not going to be the way to play perfectly from the player's perspective, but it will generally be very close. From a strategic point of view, it's in the player's best interests to try to figure out which situations warrant deviating from the house way. Once you know all of these exceptions, then you can play the house way and then deviate as needed to get the best possible payout rate.

Some games don't allow you to alter your hands after you ask for the house way, and this can throw a wrench in this particular strategy. To get the best payout rates in these games, then you'll need to learn the house way yourself. A reasonable way to go about this is to learn one set of rules for the pai gow poker house way that might be a little simpler than what you necessarily find in the game you're playing. You can still use this way as a reference and a starting point.

Overall, the house way is a critical part of pai gow poker games. However, it can also provide an important pivot point for players who are looking for a starting point for their strategies, so it's a crucial part of both sides of the game for both the dealer and the player.

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