On Monday I posted a step-by-step “How to Play Pai Gow Poker” guide.  If you are completely new to the game of Pai Gow Poker, I highly recommend checking it out to understand how the game works.

If you have already read that guide, or already an experienced Pai Gow Poker player, you are in the right place!

If you have searched for Pai Gow Poker strategy on the internet before, you may have come across a number of extremely detailed strategy guides, or some very incomplete ones.  This guide is neither- it is the practical guide to Pai Gow Poker strategy.

Here you will find a complete strategy guide that you can actually use on the fly.  Without getting into nitty-gritty detail, this guide will tell you what you should do ALMOST all of the time.  No painfully long memorization, and no leaving big chunks out. Just good Pai Gow Poker strategy.  If you want to see some extremely detailed, exhaustive Pai Gow poker strategy, check out this one or the Pai Gow Poker page at wikipedia.

How To Use The Pai Gow Poker Strategy Guide

Before we get into the strategy, I need to make you aware of the Pai Gow Poker lingo for the 5 card hand and the 2 card hand.  In Pai Gow Poker, the 5 card hand is known as the Back Hand and the 2 card hand is known as the Front Hand.  Using these terms makes explaining the strategy a little bit easier… you’ll see!

This Pai Gow Poker strategy guide tells you how to split the 7 cards you start with cards into the Back Hand (5 card hand) and the Front Hand (2 card hand).  For example,


  • BACK – Pair
  • FRONT – Next two highest cards

means that if you have a pair, you should leave it in your back hand and put the next two highest cards into your front hand.  Get it?  Ok, let’s get right into it.

Practical Pai Gow Poker Strategy

No Pair

  • BACK:  Highest Card
  • FRONT:  Next 2 highest cards


  • BACK:  Pair
  • FRONT:  Next 2 highest cards

Two Pair

  • BACK:  Highest Pair
  • FRONT:  Second highest Pair

(EXCEPTION: If your pairs are low value or medium value sized pairs (pairs of 2’s through 9’s) AND you can put either an Ace of a King in the Front Hand, then keep both of the pairs in the Back Hand.

Three Pairs

  • BACK: Second and third highest pair
  • FRONT:  Highest pair

Three of a Kind

  • BACK:  3 of a kind
  • FRONT:  Next 2 highest cards

(EXCEPTION: If the 3 of a kind are Aces, keep a pair of Aces in the Back Hand and one Ace in the Front Hand)

Straight (using 5, 6, or 7 cards)

  • BACK:  Straight (using the lowest value cards possible to complete the straight)
  • FRONT:  The two highest cards you have without breaking up the straight


  • BACK:  Flush (using the lowest cards possible to complete the flush)
  • FRONT:  The two highest cards you have while maintaining the flush

Full House

  • BACK:  Three of a kind
  • FRONT:  Pair

Four of a Kind

  • BACK:  Pair
  • FRONT:  Pair

(EXAMPLE: You have four 7’s.  Keep one pair of 7’s in the front hand, and one pair of 7’s in the Back Hand)

Straight Flush

  • BACK:  Straight Flush
  • FRONT:  Next 2 highest cards possible without breaking up the straight flush

Pai Gow Poker Strategy Final Thoughts

Next time you step up to the Pai Gow Poker table at the casino or start playing a few hands of online Pai Gow Poker, use this strategy guide and you will always make a great bet!  If you want to start practicing your new Pai Gow strategy, download a free Pai Gow game by clicking on the “Play Now” button below:

Play Now

What do you think of the Pai Gow Poker strategy guide?  Do you like to use a different strategy?  Would it be better if it were simpler?  More complicated?  Let me know in the comment section below!

Jeff White

Jeff has been an active gambler from the age of 18 when he won a small local poker tournament in San Jose, CA. He moved on to playing other casino games shortly thereafter, with a great interest in the statistics and mathematics involved. He has studied the historical gambling systems of nearly every popular casino game played today, and has written strategy books for several of them including blackjack, slot machines, craps, and roulette. Jeff has been a daily contributor to the Silver Oak Casino blog since the beginning of 2009.