Pai Gow is an ancient Chinese game, and those who are in the business of designing amusements for casino gambling have come up with a way to integrate it with some of the elements of poker to come up with a game that has garnered widespread popularity. And it is something you may want to consider as an alternative to play on those "excursions" you make into the virtual casino environment.
First of all, it should be pointed out that Pai Gow Poker is played with a standard deck of 52 cards - well, almost. There is also a Joker thrown in, and in this game it functions just like an Ace, as it has the ability to complete big combinations such as a straight, flush, straight flush and Royal Flush. In fact, that is the only thing the Joker can do - with the exception of one other thing that we will discuss in a moment.
What you'll find out from studying the rules (and we certainly hope that you do), is that you will be dealt seven cards here, and must make two hands out of that. One of those is a two-card hand and the other is a five-card hand. For you to go even further, the value of the five-card hand has to be at least equal to that of the two-card hand. The object of the game is for both your two-card hand and five-card hand to outrank the one the dealer has. If you have won one of the hands and lost the other, you have what is called a "push," or tie, is which there is no money that exchanges hands. When the player wins, there is normally a 5% commission that is paid back to the house.
As far as the rank of the hands goes, it works very much like it would in a standard game of poker, in the respect that Aces have the highest value. So your best possible two-card hand would be a pair of Aces. The best possible five-card hand would be "Five Aces," which is actually five Aces and the Joker.
So now you have a pretty good idea of what the "Holy Grail" in Pai Gow Poker is. But there are plenty of other opportunities to win elsewhere in the game. If you want to take the time to learn the procedure, understanding that you aren't going to be overwhelmed by strategy, you just might find something very satisfying in this game.