Host Your Own Pai Gow Poker Games From Home

Not everyone can afford to make the trip to Las Vegas, Reno or Atlantic City. When you factor in plane tickets, hotel, car, food and your gambling budget, you can be looking at thousands of dollars in expenses, just to play a few sessions of pai gow poker.

So, what can you do? What’s the next best solution?


Host your own game.

That’s right. Host your very own pai gow poker night. Enjoy everything you like about playing pai gow live, from friends to good food to the game itself, but without the added expenses.

However, if you want to go down this route it helps to be prepared. From my own experience running Texas holdem games, hosting a game at your place isn’t as easy as telling everyone to show up. You want to make sure you have the right equipment, rules and that it’s legal to do in the first place.

That’s what I aim to help you with now.


Lets Look at Equipment First

You can’t run a game unless you have all the equipment. Things like cards, chips and places for people to sit.

How much you invest will come down to how serious you are about hosting your own games. Think about this while reading the equipment list below. There are options for every budget.


Pai Gow Poker Table

The table is the most challenging piece of equipment. Pai gow poker isn’t as popular as holdem or blackjack, so you’re not going to find much in the way of fold out tables, or one off custom designs.


pai-gow-poker-tableYou’re going to have 3 options:


Playing Chips

Chips are necessary so that you can play in whatever denominations you want.

You have tons of options here. One the cheap end you have plastic, faux clay and ‘nice’ plastic chips. These will start at .01/chip. You can buy 4-5 sets for under $100 at Wal-Mart.

On the expensive end, you have composites, true ceramics and true clay chips. These will start at $1-$2 per chip. You can also try to find these used on eBay or Craigslist. These will come from brands like Paulson and Chipco, and the types of chips you’d see in a casino.


Playing Cards

Playing cards are a necessity, too. There are two types to choose from.

Paper (coated plastic). These are the cards you’ll see from Bicycle or Bee that you can buy from any drug or grocery store for a couple of dollars.

Plastic. These will shuffle and slide across your table faster. They’re easier to clean, too. Plastic playing cards will run between $4 and $12.

For a complete guide to playing cards, I suggest you read this guide:



Not much to say here. Save your money, and use the chairs you already own.

If you need more chairs, encourage everyone to bring their own. Another way to go is to browse Craigslist. You can often find deals for free chairs so long as you come pick them up.


Chip / Money Box

A money box or safe is a good idea if you plan to host games often, especially with players that might not know each other.

You can find these on Amazon with a lock and key for a couple of dollars. From there you can spend tens, if not hundreds on drop boxes. It just depends on how serious you want to be (and look).


Playing The Game

In this section I want to cover things like banking, the rules, dealing with cheaters, and the legalities of hosting your own game.

First off, the banking. I recommend figuring this out before you invite everyone over. Find out if the other players will want to bank. If not, you should expect to do it. As such, you’ll want to have enough money on hand.

For the rules, I suggest posting the rules near each table so players can refer to them as they play. Make sure the chip denominations are clear, too.


You should establish house rules, too. These can include things like:

  • Respect the banker. Lower your bets if requested.
  • No smoking.
  • Avoid giving advice, unless it’s welcomed.
  • Don’t berate players.
  • Respect other players.


Common sense? Absolutely. But with it posted no one can play ‘dumb.’ Situations are just easier to handle when everyone is clear on what’s expected of them.


Dealing With Cheaters

You can avoid most cheating situations by inviting people you trust to your game. This is important when you’re playing for real money, especially with people that may not know each other.

That said, cheating still happens.

Everyone will approach these situations differently. If you suspect someone of cheating, I recommend pulling them aside, letting him know what you saw them do, and then let them know they have to leave.

I wouldn’t let the player continue in the game because, from that point forward, any situations are more or less your responsibility. Secondly, if your players can’t trust one another, no one will come back to play in the future.

So, just give the cheater his or her money back, and tell them to leave. Then let everyone know what happened afterward, so to avoid causing a huge scene (and ruining everyone’s time).


Hosting Your Own Game: Is It Legal?

We’re not lawyers, so the following is general advice.

The laws on home or ‘social’ games will vary from state to state. The general rule of thumb is that as long as you don’t charge a fee to play, or collect commissions on winning hands, you should be fine. Often times you cannot charge for food/drink either. So tell everyone to bring their own if you’re not able to foot the bill.