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Last Updated: September 22, 2013

Pai Gow Poker Side Bets

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This section contains my analysis of the following pai gow poker side bets:

Fortune Pai Gow Poker

"Fortune" is a side bet in Pai Gow Poker that pays based on the value of the player's seven cards. It doesn't not matter how the player sets his hand. In addition, if another player has a four of a kind or better the player making the Fortune bet will get an "Envy Bonus." At every table I have seen there is a $5 minimum and the Envy Bonus is a fixed amount.

Following are pay tables that I am aware of, based on the player's own hand. Wins are on a "to one" basis.

Fortune Pai Gow Poker Return Pay Tables

Hand Pay Table
1 2 3 4 5 6 7
Natural seven-card straight flush 5,000 8,000 5,000 2,500 5,000 5,000 8,000
Royal flush + royal match 1,000 2,000 2,000 1,000 2,000 1,000 2,000
Wild seven-card straight flush 750 1,000 1,000 750 1,000 500 1,000
Five Aces 250 400 400 250 400 300 400
Royal Flush 100 150 150 125 150 110 150
Straight flush 50 50 50 50 50 45 50
Four of a Kind 20 25 25 25 25 25 25
Full house 5 5 5 5 5 5 5
Flush 4 4 4 4 4 4 4
Three of a kind 3 3 3 3 3 3 3
Straight 2 2 2 2 2 2 2
Three pair 0 Loss Loss Loss Loss Loss Loss
All Other Loss Loss Loss Loss Loss Loss Loss

The next table shows the Envy Bonus for each paytable.

Fortune Pai Gow Poker Return Envy Bonuses

Hand Pay Table
1 2 3 4 5 6 7
Natural seven-card straight flush $1,000 $5,000 $3,000 $1,000 $2,500 $2,500 $5,000
Royal Flush + R/M $250 $1,000 $1,000 $750 $500 $500 $1,000
Wild seven-card straight flush $100 $500 $500 $250 $250 $250 $500
Five Aces $50 $250 $250 $100 $150 $150 $250
Royal Flush $25 $50 $50 $50 $55 $55 $50
Straight flush $10 $20 $20 $20 $25 $25 $20
Four of a Kind $5 $5 $5 $5 $6 $6 $0

The next table shows the number of combinations, probability, and contribution to the return for each hand, under pay table 2, which I believe to be the most popular. The lower left cell shows a house edge of 7.77% before considering the Envy Bonus.

Pay Table 2 - Return Table

Hand Pays Combinations Probability Return
Natural seven-card straight flush 8,000 32 0.00000021 0.00166079
Royal Flush + R/M 2,000 72 0.00000047 0.00093420
Wild seven-card straight flush 1,000 196 0.00000127 0.00127155
Five Aces 400 1,128 0.00000732 0.00292715
Royal Flush 150 26,020 0.00016880 0.02532063
Straight flush 50 184,644 0.00119787 0.05989370
Four of a Kind 25 307,472 0.00199472 0.04986795
Full house 5 4,188,528 0.02717299 0.13586494
Flush 4 6,172,088 0.04004129 0.16016517
Three of a kind 3 7,672,500 0.04977518 0.14932555
Straight 2 11,034,204 0.07158417 0.14316833
Three pair -1 2,862,000 0.01856717 -0.01856717
All other -1 121,694,196 0.78948855 -0.78948855
Total 0 154,143,080 1.00000000 -0.07765575

The next table shows the return table for the Envy Bonus under pay table 2, based on a $5 bet. The lower right cell shows that each additional player at the table is worth 0.93%, based on a $5 bet. If the player bets more than $5 the value of the Envy Bonus equals 0.04634162/b, where b is the amount bet.

Envy Return Table - Paytable 2

Hand Pays Combinations Probability Return
Natural seven-card straight flush $5,000 32 0.00000021 0.00020760
Royal Flush + R/M $1,000 72 0.00000047 0.00009342
Wild seven-card straight flush $500 196 0.00000127 0.00012715
Five Aces $250 1,128 0.00000732 0.00036589
Royal Flush $50 26,020 0.00016880 0.00168804
Straight flush $20 184,644 0.00119787 0.00479150
Four of a Kind $5 307,472 0.00199472 0.00199472
Total 519,564 0.00337066 0.00926832

The next table shows the contribution for each hand under all seven pay tables, before considering the Envy Bonus.

Fortune Pai Gow Poker Return — Expected Returns

Hand Pay Table
1 2 3 4 5 6 7
Natural seven-card straight flush 0.001038 0.001661 0.001038 0.000519 0.001038 0.001038 0.001661
Royal Flush + R/M 0.000467 0.000934 0.000934 0.000467 0.000934 0.000467 0.000934
Wild seven-card straight flush 0.000954 0.001272 0.001272 0.000954 0.001272 0.000636 0.001272
Five Aces 0.001829 0.002927 0.002927 0.001829 0.002927 0.002195 0.002927
Royal Flush 0.016880 0.025321 0.025321 0.021101 0.025321 0.018568 0.025321
Straight flush 0.059894 0.059894 0.059894 0.059894 0.059894 0.053904 0.059894
Four of a Kind 0.039894 0.049868 0.049868 0.049868 0.049868 0.049868 0.049868
Full house 0.135865 0.135865 0.135865 0.135865 0.135865 0.135865 0.135865
Flush 0.160165 0.160165 0.160165 0.160165 0.160165 0.160165 0.160165
Three of a kind 0.149326 0.149326 0.149326 0.149326 0.149326 0.149326 0.149326
Straight 0.143168 0.143168 0.143168 0.143168 0.143168 0.143168 0.143168
Three pair 0.000000 -0.018567 -0.018567 -0.018567 -0.018567 -0.018567 -0.018567
All Other -0.789489 -0.789489 -0.789489 -0.789489 -0.789489 -0.789489 -0.789489
-0.080008 -0.077656 -0.078279 -0.084900 -0.078279 -0.092855 -0.077656

The next table shows the return table for the Envy Bonus, based on a $5 bet. The bottom row shows how much the house edge is reduced for each other player at the table.

Fortune Pai Gow Poker Return — Expected Returns

Hand Pay Table
1 2 3 4 5 6 7
Natural seven-card straight flush 0.000042 0.000208 0.000125 0.000042 0.000104 0.000104 0.000208
Royal Flush + R/M 0.000023 0.000093 0.000093 0.000070 0.000047 0.000047 0.000093
Wild seven-card straight flush 0.000025 0.000127 0.000127 0.000064 0.000064 0.000064 0.000127
Five Aces 0.000073 0.000366 0.000366 0.000146 0.000220 0.000220 0.000366
Royal Flush 0.000844 0.001688 0.001688 0.001688 0.001857 0.001857 0.001688
Straight flush 0.002396 0.004791 0.004791 0.004791 0.005989 0.005989 0.004791
Four of a Kind 0.001995 0.001995 0.001995 0.001995 0.002394 0.002394 0.000000
Total 0.005398 0.009268 0.009185 0.008796 0.010674 0.010674 0.007274

Fortune Pai Gow Poker Progressive - Version 1

I have an unconfirmed report that the following pay table is offered in Washington State. The bet amount is $1, nd there is no Envy Bonus. The following return table shows the return from the fixed wins only is 48.45%. For every $10,000 in the meter, the return will go up by 0.76%. The break-even meter (when there is no house edge) is $679,171.90

Fortune Pai Gow Poker House Edge

Event Pays Combinations Probability Return
7 Card Straight Flush 100% of meter 32 0.00000021 0
Royal Flush + Royal Match 50% of meter 72 0.00000047 0
7 Card Straight Flush with Joker 25% of meter 196 0.00000127 0
5 Aces 2500 1128 0.00000732 0.01829469
Royal Flush 200 26020 0.0001688 0.03376084
Straight Flush 100 184644 0.00119787 0.11978741
4 of a Kind 75 307472 0.00199472 0.14960386
Full House 6 4188528 0.02717299 0.16303793
All Other 0 149434988 0.96945635 0
Total 154143080 1 0.48448473

Fortune Pai Gow Poker Progressive - Version 2

This is a $1 progressive jackpot bet I have seen at the Wynn, Rampart, Golden Nugget, and Suncoast casinos. Wins are paid on a "for one" basis, in other words the player doesn't get his bet back if he wins. The return column shows the return for only fixed wins. In other words, not including the top two awards, the player can expect to get back 46.27% of his money back.

Fortune Pai Gow Poker House Edge

Event Pays Combinations Probability Return
Seven-card straight flush Jackpot 228 0.000001 ?
Five aces 10% of jackpot 1,128 0.000007 ?
Royal flush $500 26,092 0.000169 0.084636
Straight flush $100 184,644 0.001198 0.119787
Four of a kind $75 307,472 0.001995 0.149604
Full house $4 4,188,528 0.027173 0.108692
Loser $0 149,434,988 0.969456 0.000000
Total 154,143,080 1.000000 0.462719

The value of the jackpot is 2.21% for each $10,000 in the meter. The break-even meter (where there house edge is exactly zero) is $243,011.06. I have yet to see a jackpot get anywhere near this high.

Jackpot Pai Gow Poker

"Jackpot" is a side bet I noticed at the Rio in November 2005. The game was closed at the time so the top prize was not evident, but according to the Shufflemaster web site it is alternatively $25,000, $50,000, or $100,000.

The following table shows the probability and return for each possible event. A $100,000 for the top win is assumed and a $5 bet, for a win of 20,000 to one. The table also assumes the player will always set his hand to maximize the value of the side bet, at the possible cost of his pai gow poker bet. The lower left cell shows a house edge of 2.21%, which for a side bet is pretty good.

Jackpot Pai Gow Poker Return Table

Event Pays Combinations Probability Return
Natural Royal plus Pair of Aces* 20000 12 0.00000008 0.001557
Five Aces plus Pair 400 72 0.00000047 0.000187
Royal Flush plus Pair 200 1560 0.00001012 0.002024
Five Aces 200 1056 0.00000685 0.00137
Royal Flush 100 24560 0.00015933 0.015933
Straight Flush plus Pair 60 11748 0.00007621 0.004573
Four of a Kind plus Pair 40 57648 0.00037399 0.01496
Straight Flush 30 173084 0.00112288 0.033686
Four of a Kind 20 249824 0.00162073 0.032415
Full House plus Pair 12 150480 0.00097624 0.011715
Flush plus Pair 8 489260 0.00317406 0.025393
Straight plus Pair 6 1155536 0.00749652 0.044979
Full House 6 4024560 0.02610925 0.156655
Flush 4 5631420 0.03653372 0.146135
Straight 3 10145388 0.06581799 0.197454
Three of a kind 2 7470676 0.04846585 0.096932
Nothing -1 124556196 0.80805571 -0.808056
Total 154143080 1 -0.022088

* Both royal flush and pair of aces must be natural (no joker) for highest win.

If the top prize is less than $100,000, or the player bets more than $5 on the side bet, the return will be slightly less. The next table shows the house edge according to various other wins for a natural royal plus pair of aces according to the win on a to one basis.

House Edge by Highest Win

Natural Royal plus Aces Pays House Edge
20000 2.21%
10000 2.29%
5000 2.33%
4000 2.33%
3000 2.34%
2000 2.35%
1000 2.36%

Emperor's Challenge

Emperor's Challenge is a side bet I noticed at Hooter's Casino in Las Vegas in April, 2006. The following return table shows the probability and return of all possible outcomes. The lower right cell shows a house edge of 4.171%.

Emperor's Challenge Return Table

Event Pays Combinations Probability Return
Natural 7-card straight flush 5000 32 0.00000021 0.001038
Wild 7-card straight flush 1000 196 0.00000127 0.001272
Five aces 500 1128 0.00000732 0.003659
Royal Flush 150 26092 0.00016927 0.025391
Straight Flush 50 184644 0.00119787 0.059894
Four of a Kind 25 307472 0.00199472 0.049868
Full House 5 4188528 0.02717299 0.135865
Flush 4 6172088 0.04004129 0.160165
Three of a kind 3 7672500 0.04977518 0.149326
Straight 2 11034204 0.07158417 0.143168
9 high pai gow 40 31080 0.00020163 0.008065
10 high pai gow 5 248640 0.00161305 0.008065
J high pai gow 2 963480 0.00625056 0.012501
Nonpaying hand -1 123312996 0.79999048 -0.79999
Total 154143080 1 -0.041714

I hear that in Washington State the player must bet at least $5 to qualify for the pai gow hands.

Progressive Pai Gow Poker

The Falls View casino in Niagara Falls Ontario offers "Progressive Pai Gow Poker". This is basic pai gow poker with an added $5 side bet.

The following table shows the return table based on a breakeven meter of 20536.05 bet units, which for a $5 bet is $102,680.24. The house edge at all other times is 11.5428% less 1.1242% for every $10,000 in the meter.

Progressive Pai Gow Poker Return Table

Event Pays Combinations Probability Return
Natural Royal Flush or Five Aces + pair 20536.05 336 0.000002 0.044764
Wild Royal Flush + pair 200 1260 0.000008 0.001635
Straight Flush + pair 50 11748 0.000076 0.003811
Four of a Kind + pair 40 57648 0.000374 0.01496
Full House + pair 12 150480 0.000976 0.011715
Flush + pair 8 489260 0.003174 0.025393
Straight + pair 4 1117388 0.007249 0.028996
Natural Royal Flush or Five Aces 2053.6 5304 0.000034 0.070664
Wild Royal Flush 100 20360 0.000132 0.013209
Straight Flush 25 173084 0.001123 0.028072
Four of a Kind 20 249824 0.001621 0.032415
Full House 6 4030416 0.026147 0.156883
Flush 4 5663712 0.036743 0.146973
Straight 2 10071516 0.065339 0.130677
Three of a kind 2 7544548 0.048945 0.09789
Nothing -1 124556196 0.808056 -0.808056
Total 154143080 1 0

Pai Gow Insurance

Pai gow "insurance" is a side bet I noticed at the Red Rock casino in August, 2008. It appeared along with the Emperor's Challenge side bet. A "pai gow" in pai gow poker is a hand with seven singletons, where no straight or flush is possible. This side bet wins if the player had a pai gow, the lower the highest card, the more it pays. The following return table shows the details. The lower right cell shows a house edge of 7.35%.

Pai Gow Insurance

Event Pays Combinations Probability Return
9 high pai gow 100 31080 0.000202 0.020163
10 high pai gow 25 248640 0.001613 0.040326
J high pai gow 15 963480 0.006251 0.093758
Q high pai gow 7 2719500 0.017643 0.123499
K high pai gow 5 6386940 0.041435 0.207176
A high pai gow 3 14430780 0.093619 0.280858
Loser -1 129362660 0.839238 -0.839238
Total 154143080 1 -0.073457

Pai Gow'd

Pai Gow'd is a side bet I noticed at the Four Queens on December 26, 2011. It is exactly like Pai Gow Insurance, explained above, but with a modified pay table. The lower right corner of the odds table below shows a house edge of 6.44%.

Pai Gow'd

Event Pays Combinations Probability Return
9 high pai gow 100 31080 0.000202 0.020163
10 high pai gow 50 248640 0.001613 0.080652
J high pai gow 10 963480 0.006251 0.062506
Q high pai gow 7 2719500 0.017643 0.123499
K high pai gow 5 6386940 0.041435 0.207176
A high pai gow 3 14430780 0.093619 0.280858
Loser -1 129362660 0.839238 -0.839238
Total 154143080 1 -0.064384

Jokolor

The Jokolor is a side bet mentioned on page 85 in the a document titled Rules of casino games in Great Britain (1124K). The side bet wins if the player has a joker and/or all cards of the same color. The following table shows the house edge is 3.90%.

Jokolor

Event Pays Combinations Probability Return
Six cards same color plus joker 30 460460 0.002987 0.089617
Seven cards same color, without joker 10 1315600 0.008535 0.085349
Any hand with joker 5 19898060 0.129088 0.645441
Loser -1 132468960 0.85939 -0.85939
Total 154143080 1 -0.038982

G3 Bonus

This side bet is paired with pai gow poker games, including EZ Pai Gow, offering the G3 electronic side bet wagering. As far as I can tell at the Rampart casino, it is just titled the "Bonus Bet."

Bonus Bet Return Table

Event Dynasty Pays Envy Bonus Combinations Probability Dynasty Return Envy Bonus
Natural 7-card Straight Flush 8000 $ 5000 32 0.000000 0.001661 0.000208
Royal Flush + Natural AQ Suited 2000 $ 1000 72 0.000000 0.000934 0.000093
Wild 7-card Straight Flush 1000 $ 500 196 0.000001 0.001272 0.000127
Five Aces 400 $ 250 1128 0.000007 0.002927 0.000366
Royal Flush 150 $ 50 26020 0.000169 0.025321 0.001688
Straight Flush 50 $ 20 184644 0.001198 0.059894 0.004791
Four of a Kind 25 $ 5 307472 0.001995 0.049868 0.001995
Full House 5 $ 0 4188528 0.027173 0.135865 0.000000
Flush 4 $ 0 6172088 0.040041 0.160165 0.000000
Three of a Kind 3 $ 0 7672500 0.049775 0.149326 0.000000
Straight 2 $ 0 11034204 0.071584 0.143168 0.000000
Losing combinations -1 $ 0 124556196 0.808056 -0.808056 0.000000
Total: 154143080 1.000000 -0.077656 0.009268

The next table shows the overall house edge according to the number of players, including yourself, and various bet amounts. Note that the high edge is lowest at a bet of $1. This is because the win for the Envy Bonus is the same, regardless how much the player bets.

Bonus Bet House Edge

Players $1-$4 bet $5 bet $10 bet $15 bet $25 bet
6 7.77% 3.13% 5.45% 6.22% 6.84%
5 7.77% 4.06% 5.91% 6.53% 7.02%
4 7.77% 4.99% 6.38% 6.84% 7.21%
3 7.77% 5.91% 6.84% 7.15% 7.39%
2 7.77% 6.84% 7.30% 7.46% 7.58%
1 7.77% 7.77% 7.77% 7.77% 7.77%

G3 Progressive

This is a progressive side bet found with G3 electronic betting units. The player may bet $1 to $25. All jackpot wins are the same, regardless of bet size, so I would never bet more than $1. As usual with progressive bets, wins are on a "for one" basis. That means you don't get your original bet back, even if you win. To be consistent with other pages on this site, the following page is on a "return basis," meaning what the player can expect to get back for his bet, based on a $1 bet.

G3 Progressive

Event Pays Combinations Probability Return
7-card Straight Flush Jackpot $ 228 0.000001 0.000000
Five Aces 0.1×Jackpot $ 1,128 0.000007 0.000000
Royal Flush $500 $ 26,092 0.000169 0.084636
Straight Flush $100 $ 184,644 0.001198 0.119787
Four of a Kind $75 $ 307,472 0.001995 0.149604
Full House $4 $ 4,188,528 0.027173 0.108692
All other 0 $ 149,434,988 0.969456 0.000000
Total 154,143,080 1.000000 0.462719

The bottom right corner shows a return of 46.27% on all fixed wins. The value of the progressive is 22.11% for each $100,000 in the meter. To reach 100% the meter would need to be $243,011.06.When I saw this bet at the Rampart casino on March 17, 2011, the meter was at $207,361, for a return of 92.12%. This was probably unusually high, because the Rampart has had a truck with a big sign in the back drive around Summerlin promoting the large jackpot.

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