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Traditional Pai Gow
As we’ve said before, the scoring in the traditional version of this game is quite complicated. However, there is no need to worry as this game is learnable. Once you understand how to play, which we will get to now, you don’t have to worry at all. Reason being is that the dealer can set the tiles and make use of the ‘house way’. By doing this, you avoid making mistakes. What’s great is that the option for the dealer to set the tiles is offered by most online Pai Gow games, which provides somewhat of a safety net for novice gamblers. If you know what you are doing when it comes to this game, feel free to use your own strategy.
Rules and How to Play Pai Gow
So, how do we play this complicated game and what is the objective of the game? The aim of this Chinese game is to use four domino tiles to make two hands that will be able to beat the both of the dealer’s hand. In this instance, gameplay is very much like that of Pai Gow Poker.
The game consists of 32 domino pieces, of which eight are given to each player including the dealer. Each tile is given face down to the players, to which gamblers may only look at their own dominos. Once a player has seen their tiles, they will have to arrange them into two different hands using four dominoes. Both a high and a low hand must be made, just like you would in Pai Gow Poker.
The scoring of the game however, is where things get a little tricky, so be sure to pay close attention to the next section of this guide to ensure that you learn all you need to when you decide to play. Perhaps even bookmark this page so that you can refer back to it should you need to refresh your memory.
Pai Gow Hand Scoring
When it comes to scoring your hand in Pai Gow, most of the time you can just add the little dots or pips on your dominos. Just as you would find in Baccarat, the only number that counts is, the number found in the ones column. For instance, should you could 21 dots on your two domino tiles then your hand will be worth one point.
The lowest hand that you can achieve is of course, zero points. The highest hand achievable is 9 points.
Gee Joon Tiles
Keep in mind, the Gee Joon tiles – tiles with one red dot and two white dots or four red dots and two white ones – can be counted as either three or six points. The amount of points you decide to take will of course count on which would better serve your hand. Although, some hands are worth more than nine points.
The first of the two hands is known as Gongs. The Gongs are made up of a combo of any eight-point domino tiles, alongside either a two or a 12-point tile. These hands can equate to as much as 10 points.
When you manage to score about the Gongs, the hands become known as the Wongs. The Wongs are made up of combos of nine-point tiles and either the two or 12-point tiles. Wong hands are thought to be worth 11 points
The most confusing hands are the highest scoring hands which are pairs. 32 domino tiles can be split into 16 pairs. All of which will score above any non-pair hand. This includes both Wongs and Gongs. Although, each pair is separately ranked, the ranking of these pairs are quite complicated and follow no logical pattern. Alternatively, gamblers will need to remember the ranking of each of these 16 pairs so that they can understand which hands are the best.
For your convenience, we have compiled a list of all the pairs ranking from the strongest to the weakest alongside descriptions of each to assist you.
Pai Gow Pairs
- Gee Joon tiles – three and six dot tiles.
- Teens – 12-point pieces.
- Days – 2-point tiles.
- Eight-point red tiles.
- Four-point 3-1 pieces.
- 5-5 ten-point tiles.
- 6-point tiles with dots arranged in a pattern of ‘2-2-2’ with two white dots in the centre of each.
- Four-point 2-2 tiles.
- 6-5, 11-point pieces.
- Ten-point, 6-4 tiles.
- Seven-point, 6-1 tiles.
- Six-point, 5-1 pieces.
- Mismatched nine-point pieces (5-4 and 6-3)
- Eight-point mismatched tiles (6-2 and 5-3)
- Seven-point mismatched tiles (5-2 and 4-3)
- Mismatched five-point pieces (3-2 and 4-1)
In addition to all these pairs, if the dealer and the players hand result in a tie, the tie will be broken by the player possessing the best pair on the following chart. Simply put, this means that, should the player have a four-point 3-1 tile, while the dealer’s best is a seven-point 6-1 tile, then the player would win.
However, like most aspects of this game, it’s not that simple. There is an exception to this, Gee Joon tiles aren’t used when it comes to breaking a tie. In the very rare occasion that the dealer and the player have the same ‘best tile’ then the dealer will win the tie. More so, the dealer will win any ties between hands where a zero-point score is achieved. If both of the players hands beat those of the dealer, the player will win even real money on their bet, less a 5% commission. If the dealer wins both hands, the player will lose their bet.
Pai Gow Tips
When playing Pai Gow, there are a few tips that you should keep in mind. Below are a few tips to remember next time you play:
- Don’t split pairs of fours, tens or 11’s.
- You should only split a Gee Joon pair if you also hold a 6-4, 6-5, or 6-6.
- Make sure that you only split a pair of twos or 12s if you have 9-11 or if you can make two hands of 6/8 or better.
- Pairs of fives should only be split if you have 2-12.
- If you want to split a pair of sixes make sure you are holding either a 2-11, 2-12, or 11-12.
- If you can make two hands of 7/7 or better then only can you split a pair of sevens.
- Only if you can make two hands of 8/8 or if you hold a 9-11 should you split a pair of eights.
- Only split a pair of nines if you are able to make two hands of 9/9 or better.
- Ensure that you have a low hand of 0 or 1 to play a Gong or a Wong.
- If your hand is a 2, 3, 7 or 8- play a “Low Gong”- this is one that contains an eight other than the red 8.
- If you have a 2 or a 12 then it would be a good idea to play 5/7,6/7 or 7/7 if you can.
- Where possible play a High Nine, this is a hand that contains a Day or a Teen tile.
- If you can, play any Low 8 Gong.
Pai Gow, once learnt can be a lot of fun for gamblers to enjoy playing. Why not give it a try today? It could move its way up your list of casino game favourites!