How to Deal Pai-Gow Poker

Part 5: A Vegas Aces Guide

The Dragon Hand

The Dragon Hand is a side bet that allows you to play an additional hand, but only one player can play at a time. The button for the Dragon Hand rotates around the table so that way everyone has the option of having a turn. The wager for the Dragon Hand must be exactly the same amount as the player’s original Pai-Gow Poker bet. There is a dragon marker on top of the dragon hand cards

When the cards are dealt out to the players, the first available hand that is sitting on an empty spot will be the Dragon Hand. The dealer will identify this as the Dragon Hand by placing a dragon button on top of the cards.

After all the cards have been distributed, the dealer will pick up the hands from any unoccupied spots, except the Dragon Hand, and place them in the discard rack. The Dragon Hand and the button will then be picked up by the dealer and offered to the next player sitting counter-clockwise to the last person who played the Dragon Hand. If the player refuses to play the Dragon Hand then it will be offered to the next player on the left until all players have been given the choice to play the hand. When moving the Dragon Hand, make sure to lift the cards no more than an inch off the table.

If no players accept the Dragon Hand, then it will be placed in the discard rack. The Dragon Hand rotation will continue until a player decides to play it. When that happens, the dealer will wait for the player to finish setting their original hand and then they will place the dragon button on top of the player’s original cards before placing the Dragon Hand to the left of the player’s original hand. Some casinos will want you to wait until all of the players have finished setting their hands before giving the dragon hand to the appropriate player. Make sure you know your house rules.

When the player is done setting their hand, they will lay it to the right of their original bet, in the same manner that they laid their first hand. The reason why is because, when the dealer completes the take-and-pay procedure they will start from the dealer’s right hand side and go left. This makes it possible for the dealer to check the player’s original hand first and the Dragon hand second. The dealer must not reveal the dragon hand before the original hand.

If the player is banking, then they’re not allowed to play the Dragon Hand or any additional side bets. If the dealer forgets to offer the Dragon Hand and instead places it in the discard rack, then it will automatically become a dead hand. A Dead Hand is a hand that no longer qualifies as a playable hand.

The Fortune Bonus

There is a wager on the fortune bonus betting circle

Fortune Pai-Gow Poker is identical to Pai-Gow Poker but with an additional bonus wager. It’s mandatory that the player have money on a normal Pai-Gow Poker bet if they wish to play the Fortune Bonus, they cannot play the bonus by itself. The player can bet any amount they want on the bonus; it doesn’t have to be the same amount as their original wager. The minimum a player can bet is $1, while the maximum can be either $50 or $100, depending on the house.

In order to win this bonus, the player must have a qualifying 5 card poker hand out of all 7 cards that were dealt. It doesn’t matter how the player sets their hand, if they qualify, they’ll still receive their winnings.

The Royal Match odds on the table layout

A list of the Fortune Bonus payouts will be posted either on the layout or on a sign. If you see “Royal Match” on the list, this is referring to a King and a Queen with the same suit located in the low hand.

No Fortune Bonus wagers are allowed on a Dragon Hand. If the player wants to tip the dealer on a fortune bonus bet, be aware that some casinos have a maximum payout for tipping.

If the player is banking then they’re allowed to make a fortune bonus bet and the other players are allowed to envy the Player-Bankers hand. But, as always, every casino is different so make sure you know your house rules. The house will always handle the Fortune Bonus payouts, not the Player Banker.

For a more interactive lesson on Pai-Gow Poker, check out my Curious videos!

The Envy Bonus

The player has a 5 dollar wager on the fortune bonus and an envy bonus button is next to it.

If the player makes a Fortune Bonus wager of $5 or more, then that player qualifies for an Envy Bonus. All Envy Bonus payouts are listed somewhere on the table. The dealer will place a button in front of the Fortune Bonus wager to show the camera’s that it qualifies for the Envy Bonus. If the player wins a bonus, make sure to spread the cards out far enough so that the cameras can see them clearly. The dealer will pay the player accordingly, and if the winnings are over $100, alert your floor. If the player doesn’t win a bonus, then their bet is taken but the dealer will make sure to leave the Envy button up. This way if another player has a qualifying hand then your envy bonus will still be recognized and paid. Only at the end of the hand will the dealer make sure to remove all Envy Bonus buttons that don’t apply anymore.

At some casinos, toke wagers do not qualify for the Envy Bonus. If there is a situation where more than one player has a qualifying hand, then all Envy Bonuses will be paid accordingly for each qualifying bet.

The player cannot envy the dealer’s hand or their own, regardless of whose banking. No matter how much the player wishes, begs, or pleads, the house will not pay the player for the dealer’s good hand. They are in the business of making money, not losing it.

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