Pai Gow Poker is the card variant of the well-known dominoes game, Pai Gow. Pai Gow Poker is a popular game in it’s own right though, known for having a low house edge and for being beginner friendly. I can say from experience that it’s beginner friendly too. I loaded up the free version of Pai Gow Poker at one site and managed to pick the game up within a couple of hands.
That’s the greatest thing about playing casino games online — you can play a game for free so you can learn the rules, not to mention figure out if you even like the game, all before sitting down to play for real money.
Play Real Money Pai Gow Online
I’ve never played Pai Gow Poker in a live casino setting, so I can’t say whether or not there are significant differences compared to playing online. I did read though that while playing Pai Gow live, dice are shaken up and slammed down on the table. This determines where the first card is dealt. That doesn’t happen online.
Another (general) difference between live and online Pai Gow Poker will be the minimum bet. Online Pai Gow Poker, as well as other table games, can be played for as little as $1 per hand. In my experience you won’t find that live. Online casinos can get away with smaller table minimums because their overhead is much smaller.
Playing online will also mean that you’re playing by yourself, instead of playing with several other people.
Overall, the differences aren’t groundbreaking. They’re nothing more than you’d expect playing online instead of live.
Pai Gow Poker Bonuses
If you’ve never played games online before, something you’ll notice are all the bonuses being offered. These are offered to players as an incentive to make their first deposit. The exact bonus will vary, but the most common is the match bonus. A match bonus is a match from the casino on your deposit ranging from 10 to 200 percent. Most casinos offer a 100% match. So if you deposit $100 you’ll receive $100 to play with, for a grand total of $200.
The bonus is given to you to play with, so you won’t be able to withdraw it until you’ve completed the play through requirements. The play through is usually a multiplier of your deposit plus bonus, like 15 or 25x. If you have a grand total of $200, at a 15x multiplier you’d have to wager $3,000 ($200*15) before you could make a withdrawal.
But that’s not all, at least if you play Pai Gow Poker. Most casinos have rules in place regarding games with a lower house edge that say that any wagers placed on these games won’t fulfill the bonus requirements. Some games, such as blackjack, will fall in between. In other words, they won’t count towards 100 percent of the bonus, but maybe 20 or 30 percent. So you’d have to play 3-5x as much to fulfill your bonus requirements. Pai Gow Poker, however, is hit or miss.
The best thing to do is read the terms and conditions before you make a deposit. If you don’t read them and later win money with your bonus funds, you run the risk of losing all of your bonus money and winnings.
Pai Gow Side Bets and Game Variations
There are a few variations of Pai Gow Poker, but you’re more likely to find them live than online. In each variation the side bet is the “difference.” The most popular variations are Fortune Pai Gow and Pai Gow Progressive, both of which have $1 side bets. The difference between the two is that in Fortune Pai Gow you’re wagering on making trips or better. However, Progressive Pai Gow has a progressive jackpot, which operates just like other casino progressive games.
Believe it or not, participating in one of these variations can increase the house edge to as much as 10% or more. That’s jaw dropping knowing that the standard house edge for Pai Gow Poker is only 1.5%. If that won’t make you think twice about placing side bets, I don’t know what will.
Pai Gow Poker Software Providers
Like I said before, I’ve never played Pai Gow Poker in a brick and mortar casino. But I thought it looked pretty cool online at 888 when I tried the game out for the first time. It had blue felt with two white and teal dragons in the background. Everything else was the same as the other table games though, and I don’t imagine it’ll be drastically different from one casino to the next. The biggest differences, if any, will be the min/max betting amounts and if another casino offers a Pai Gow Poker variation.