Playing Two Pair Hands in Pai Gow

In a game of Pai Gow Poker the primary objective of play is to achieve a balance of power between the high value and low value hand. While a number of scenarios like playing high or single pair hands can be played with ease and executed to perfection every time by implementing sound basic strategy, two pair hands pose more difficulty.

Here we’ll take a look at the resulting balance of power for two pair hands and how you should play them in order to ensure maximum returns.

The issue with two pair hands in Pai Gow is that you have to decide whether to retain the lower value pair in the high or the low hand. If you have been dealt a decent high card hand to put in the low hand, then it’s generally best to keep the pair in the high. If you don’t do this, your other option is to split your pairs.

In order to determine how best to play these hands one can make use of a scoring system whereby the value of the cards that comprise the two pairs are added. For example, if you have been dealt a pair of Jacks and a pair of fives, the value of these cards would be 11 (for the jacks) plus 5 (for the fives) which gives you a total of sixteen and tells you how to play the hand effectively.

When you’re holding cards with a total value of 17 you should always split the pair. In these instances, the pairs are strong enough to stand up on their own in spite of the other cards in the hand. If your totals range between 12 and 16, it is also advisable to split, unless you’re holding an ace-high which can be inserted into the low hand. If this is the case you should always keep the pairs together in the high hand instead.

If you’re holding pairs valued at 7 to 11, you should split the pairs unless you are able to place an ace-high or king-high in the low. Lastly, when facing the worst cards, totally six or lower it is still advisable to split the pairs unless you are able to place an Ace-high, Queen-High or King-high in the low. Occasionally you’ll have a weak pair with no opportunity to place decent high cards into the low and in these instances it is best to just split the pairs and hope for a favourable outcome.

As you can see from the above discussion, it is always advisable to know the rules of the game well and to have a game play strategy even for the more difficult plays, this way you’ll know which moves to make and avoid costly mistakes.