When you see pai gow and pai gow poker listed in an online casino, you might think that they both refer to the same game. Yet despite a shared history and some common points, there are some major differences between these games that you need to know about.
What is pai gow?
This is a classic Chinese gambling game that uses a set of traditional domino tiles. Each player is given a pile of these tiles, and they need to form two hands of tiles with the best possible scores.
The name of the game is sometimes translated as ‘make nine’, which comes from the fact that nine is typically the top score that can be achieved in a hand. Having said that, some special tiles can be used to get a higher score than this.
It isn’t clear when this game was invented in ancient China, but it appears to have been brought to North America by migrant workers in the 19th century. Pai gow gained a certain level of popularity in the West and was added to the games in many casinos.
What is pai gow poker?
It is easier to track the history of this modern version of pai gow, as it was created in the US in the mid-1980s. The credit is generally given to Sam Torosian, owner of the Bell Card Club, who is said to have learned the rules from a Filipino customer but then changed them slightly to make it easier and more appealing to play.
The general idea is like pai gow, but with cards used instead of dominoes. A standard deck with 52 cards and one joker is used, with as many as six players attempting to beat the banker at any time.
Each player gets seven cards and needs to make up two poker hands, one with five cards and the other with just two. If a player beats the banker with both hands, then they win, while a win on just one hand leads to a push.
This card game quickly became a success in casinos across the US and beyond. The introduction of online casinos has brought pai gow poker to a far wider audience, as many of these gambling sites include at least one version of it.
Across all of the best NJ online casinos, we can see that the slickly presented Fortune Pai Gow Poker by SG Digital is one of their many card games. It sits alongside various blackjack, baccarat, poker and other titles in their games lobbies.
Which one should you try?
There are good reasons to try each of these games. The original pai gow may appeal to you if you want something exotic that looks different from anything you have tried before but is easy to play.
Alternatively, you might prefer to play pai gow poker if you like the idea of discovering a new card game that has a lot in common with poker.