Face Up Pai Gow Poker is an exciting casino table game, derived from the traditional Chinese domino game Pai Gow, that has been growing rapidly in popularity over the past few years. This guide will teach you everything you need to know to play Face Up Pai Gow Poker, including the rules, optimal strategy, side bets, payouts, and more.
What is Face Up Pai Gow Poker?
Face Up Pai Gow Poker is a variation of traditional Pai Gow Poker, played with a standard 52-card deck plus one Joker, for a total of 53 cards. Unlike regular Pai Gow where players compete against other players at the table, in Face Up Pai Gow you go head-to-head against the dealer.
The main unique feature of Face Up Pai Gow is that the dealer’s cards are dealt face up, allowing you to use the information to guide your decisions before you set your own hands. If the best 5-card poker hand the dealer can make is Ace-high, the hand is an automatic push for the player.
How to Play Face Up Pai Gow Poker
The goal in Face Up Pai Gow Poker is to make a 5-card poker hand and a 2-card poker hand that both outrank the dealer’s corresponding hands. If one or both of your hands beat the dealer’s, you win even money on your bet. If both of your hands rank lower, you lose your bet. If one hand wins and one loses, it is a push.
Here are the step-by-step rules:
- Place your wager: The minimum/maximum bets are set by each casino. You can also place optional bonus side bets.
- The dealer deals 7 cards to you and themselves face up: Both you and the dealer get 7 cards to arrange into a 5-card hand and a 2-card hand.
- Assess the dealer’s hands: Look at the dealer’s 7 cards, which are exposed. Determine what the highest 5-card and 2-card poker hands are that the dealer can make.
- Set your own hands: Using your 7 cards, set your best 5-card hand and 2-card hand by arranging them into two piles. Remember, your 5-card hand must outrank your 2-card hand.
- Compare hands: The dealer will then compare their 5-card hand to your 5-card hand, and their 2-card hand to your 2-card hand, using standard poker hand rankings.
- Settle bets: If both your hands outrank the dealer’s, you win even money. If both lose, you lose your bet. If you split, it’s a push. Bonus bets are settled too.
Face Up Pai Gow Poker Hand Rankings
Face Up Pai Gow Poker uses standard 5-card poker hands rankings from high to low:
- Royal Flush: A, K, Q, J, 10 of the same suit
- Straight Flush: 5 suited cards in sequence
- Four of a Kind: 4 cards of the same rank
- Full House: 3 of a kind + Pair
- Flush: 5 suited cards (non-sequential)
- Straight: 5 sequential cards (non-suited)
- Three of a Kind
- Two Pair
- One Pair
- High Card: Highest value single card
The Joker is semi-wild. It can be used as an Ace, or to complete a Straight, Flush, Straight Flush or Royal Flush.
For 2-card hands, the highest possible hand is a Pair, followed by High Card based on the highest value card.
Face Up Pai Gow Poker Strategy Tips
Although Face Up Pai Gow Poker involves some luck in the dealing of the cards, there is skill and strategy involved when it comes to arranging your hands. Follow these tips:
- Split Aces and Kings: With high pairs like Aces and Kings, splitting them into a pair in front and three of a kind behind is optimal.
- Play Complete Hands: With very strong 5-card hands like Flushes and Full Houses, you want to keep the entire hand together in your 5-card hand rather than splitting.
- Split 2-Pair Hands: Generally you want to split 2-pair hands, unless you have a high pair in front that could beat the dealer’s pairs.
- Don’t Split Low Pairs: Avoid splitting low pairs like 5s or below. Keep them together in your 5-card hand.
- Watch for Dealer Ace-High: If the dealer has Ace-high as their best 5-card hand, it’s an automatic push so you can play more aggressively.
Face Up Pai Gow Poker Side Bets
Most Face Up Pai Gow Poker games offer optional bonus side bets to spice things up:
This side bet wins if your hand contains certain poker combinations, up to 800:1 for 7-Card Straight Flushes (with an envy payout for other players).
This side bet wins if the dealer gets Ace-High. Payouts range from 40:1 to 200:1 depending on whether you also get Ace-High.
These profitable side bets add more excitement, giving you more ways to win big. The house edge is higher but the volatility makes up for it.
Tips for Face Up Pai Gow Poker Success
Follow these tips to boost your success at Face Up Pai Gow Poker:
- Learn optimal hand-setting strategies and tips for different hand combinations
- Take advantage of the exposed dealer hand before setting your own hand
- Place side bets occasionally to spice things up and give yourself more winning chances
- Manage your bankroll properly and quit while you’re ahead
- Brush up on your 5-card poker hand rankings if needed
- Play at a relaxed pace, avoid rushing hand decisions
- Enjoy yourself! It’s an entertaining game.
Where to Play Face Up Pai Gow Poker
While not as ubiquitous as Blackjack or Baccarat, Face Up Pai Gow Poker tables can be found at casinos across the United States and Canada, as well as at many online casino sites. Some of the best places to play include:
- Las Vegas Strip casinos like Aria, Bellagio, MGM Grand
- Major regional casinos like Foxwoods CT and River Cree Edmonton
- Online at sites like BetMGM Casino, Borgata Casino, and Golden Nugget Casino
Wherever you play, knowing the ins and outs of Face Up Pai Gow Poker will help you play properly, enhance your enjoyment of the game, and boost your chances of leaving the table a winner. So read up on the rules and strategy, then put your skills to the test!
Yes, in Face Up Pai Gow Poker, the dealer’s cards are dealt face up, allowing you to see their hand before setting your own.
If both you and the dealer have the same hand, it is considered a push, and your bet is returned to you.
Yes, most Face Up Pai Gow Poker games offer optional bonus side bets such as the Fortune Bonus and Ace-High Bonus, which provide additional opportunities to win.
Where can I play Face Up Pai Gow Poker?