Fortune pai gow poker is a blend of poker and pai gow, a classic gambling game played with Chinese dominoes. If you know how to play poker, you have a head start with fortune pai gow poker. Let’s take a look at how it works and what it takes find good fortune with this game.
The objective of fortune pai gow poker is to create two winning poker hands, a two-card hand and a five-card hand. To win, both of your hands must beat the corresponding poker hands of the “banker,” who may be one of the players or the house dealer. Each game is played with one deck of 52 cards, plus one joker.
Fortune bonus and envy bonus: Fortune pai gow poker often includes an optional “fortune bonus” side bet that pays if any combination of your seven cards creates a poker hand listed on the payout table, regardless of how you set your hands in the basic game. If any player at the table gets a four of a kind or higher, an “envy bonus” is paid out to anyone who made a fortune bonus bet of $5 or more.
If both of your hands beat the banker’s corresponding hands, you win even money. If you bet $10, you win $10.
If only one of your hands beats the banker’s, it’s a push. You keep your original bet. No win, no loss.
If neither of your hands beats the banker’s hands, you lose.
Each player’s winnings—and the net winnings of the banker—are subject to a five percent commission, which is collected by the dealer.
Fortune pai gow poker is considered a game of skill, meaning that if you learn and apply the optimal strategy you can improve your odds of winning. But it also depends greatly on chance, based on the cards you’re dealt. You can also improve your expected return by playing as the banker.
The house advantage in fortune pai gow poker is around three percent if you follow a smart strategy as a player, but can be improved to less than one percent if you’re the banker. By comparison, the house advantage for roulette is around 5 to 6 percent, and for the lottery it’s around 50 percent.
|House advantage, with optimal play
|Fortune pai gow poker
|0.5 to 2.5%
|4 to 3.5%
How to play
Place your bet.
The dealer deals you seven cards, face down.
Pick up your cards, and split them into two separate poker hands—one hand of five cards (the “back” or the “low” hand), and one hand of two cards (the “front” or “high” hand).
Your five-card hand must have a higher poker rank than your two-card hand.
Your two-card hand should be selected according to the “house way,” a set of house rules that outlines how the casino ranks combinations of cards.
If you don’t know the house way, just ask the dealer. The house way may be different from casino to casino.
Compare your hands to the banker’s. To win, both of your poker hands must be higher in value than the banker’s corresponding hands.
If only one of your two hands is better than the dealer’s, it’s a push (a tie). If neither of your hands are better, you lose.