How to Deal Pai Gow Poker

Many table games are very easy to learn how to deal. Blackjack is probably the most complicated game to learn other than figuring out how to deal pai gow poker, and blackjack only has one real rule to learn about trying to decide how to play the dealer hand. The process can be learned, but it's no surprise that only the best dealers are allowed to deal pai gow poker. What's more is that some live games allow players to deal, but the dealer has to be able to keep a close eye on everything that's happening so that no cheating happens.

The Basics of the Deal

Long story short, the players make their bets, and you give them all seven cards. You start by burning a card traditionally, and that just means taking a card off of the top of the deck and placing it face-down in the discards or to the side in a designated spot. From there, the cards are dealt to the left with the dealer receiving the last card in each rotation until all players have seven cards apiece. The players then have an opportunity to place their hands how they would like, and you wait for this part of the game to be over.

Next, players are asked to stop, and they aren't allowed to touch their cards. You'll notice that learning how to deal pai gow poker involves keeping control over the players as much as you keep control over the cards themselves. From here, you'll arrange your own seven cards according to the house way, and then you present them to the players for payouts. This is a tricky part of the game for some people to learn because there are two hands being compared.

If both hands win for the dealer, the dealer takes the player's entire bet. If both hands win for the player, the dealer pays out a 0.95:1 win in most games because of the five percent commission. In online games, this is different, and some games play 1:1 and have a different way of taking the commission. If one hand wins and the other loses, then it's a push and the player's bet stays in place without any win.

Pushes vs. Ties

There's an important distinction when learning how to deal pai gow poker when it comes to the difference between a push and a tie. A tie happens when one low hand is the same as another low hand, or one high hand is the same as another high hand. The dealer always wins these ties. However, a push is when the player wins one hand and the dealer wins the other. A push is the result for the total bet, but a tie is a result for an individual hand (that goes to the dealer). It's critical to know this distinction when you speak about the game because you will confuse people very easily if you aren't mindful about it.

Learning the House Way

One of the most important parts of learning how to deal pai gow poker is learning the house way. As a player, you can learn multiple ways of playing your hands that are similar to but different than the house way. However, the dealer isn't allowed to make these adjustments.

The house way is the set of rules that a dealer is expected to use for setting the high and low hands. Most of the rules are pretty straight-forward, and only maybe five or ten percent of hands are particularly difficult to learn to play properly. However, it's these five or ten percent of hands that separate bad dealers from good ones.

Dealing as a Player

Sometimes you'll have a chance to rotate the deal in a game of pai gow poker, especially in live games. If this is the case, then you should take it. The reason for taking it is that your house advantage for that one hand will drop in a major way. The house edge for playing normally is about 2.5 percent, but the house edge for hands you deal is less than one percent. Obviously this is a big difference.

When dealing as a player, you'll deal out the hands as instructed by the croupier at the table. If you need your hand to be arranged according to the house way, then you can simply ask for it. However, if you make a mistake, the dealer will politely correct it for you anyway so that the dealer, no matter who it is, always ends up using the correct house way.

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