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Best of John Grochowski

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Fortune Pai Gow

17 May 2015

QUESTION: Can you explain the Fortune Pai Gow side bet? I’ve only played Pai Gow Poker a few times, and it’s easy enough once you get used to setting the hands. Last time I played, the table had the side bet, and some other players were making it. I didn’t, because I didn’t know if it was a good bet or not.

ANSWER: The Fortune side bet adds a jackpot element to Pai Gow Poker, but the house edge is variable. On the version I’ve seen most recently, the house edge is 7.8 percent before taking an envy bonus into account. At wizardofodds.com, Michael Shackelford calculates each additional player at the table reduces the house edge by 0.92 percent because of their potential to trigger the envy bonus, which is described below.

How you set the cards into a five-card high hand and two-card second-high hand is irrelevant in settling the Fortune side bet. If you have three 8s, two Kings, a Jack and a 4, you’ll get the Fortune payoff on a full house even if you set the cards with three 8s in the high hand and the pair of Kings in the second high hand.

There are several pay tables available, but all start payoffs at five-card straights. The version I’ve seen most recently pays 2-1 on a straight, 3-1 on three of a kind, 4-1 on a flush, 5-1 on a full house, 25-1 on four of a kind, 50-1 on a straight flush, 150-1 on a royal flush and 400-1 on five Aces.

In addition, there are big jackpots on three seven-card hands. A seven-card straight flush that includes the joker pays 1,000-1. The jackpot is 2,000-1 on a five-card royal flush accompanied by a suited King and Queen. And the top prize of a 5,000-1 bonanza is for a seven-card straight flush that does not include the joker.

On to the envy bonus. At the casino where I checked out the game, the envy bonus was paid only to players who bet at least $5 on Fortune. Then, the bonus was $5 if another player had four of a kind, jumping to $20 on a straight flush, $50 on a royal, $250 on five Aces, $500 on a seven-card straight flush with the joker, $1,000 on a royal flush accompanied by a suited King-Queen and $3,000 for a straight flush with no joker.

The allure of the jackpots is strong, and Fortune adds a big-money element to Pai Gow Poker. Playing head-to-head with the dealer, with a full 7.8 percent house edge, I wouldn’t make the Fortune bet. I probably still wouldn’t make it with a full table, with six additional players reducing the overall edge to 2.3 percent, but I can’t fault jackpot hunters for taking a flyer at that level.


QUESTION Have you seen the 6 Card Bonus bet at Three-Card Poker? How does that work?

ANSWER: If you make the 6 Card Bonus side bet, you’re wagering that your three cards plus the dealer’s three cards will yield a five-card poker hand of at least three of a kind. Strong hands are easier to attain than in straight five-card games because you have an extra card, and just ignore the sixth.

Several different pay tables are available for operators to choose from. One common one starts with a 5-1 payoff on three of a kind, and increases to 10-1 on straights, 15-1 on flushes, 25-1 on full houses, 50-1 on four of a kind, 200-1 on straight flushes and 1,000-1 on royals. The house edge at that pay table is 15.3 percent.
Recent Articles
Best of John Grochowski
John Grochowski

John Grochowski is the best-selling author of The Craps Answer Book, The Slot Machine Answer Book and The Video Poker Answer Book. His weekly column is syndicated to newspapers and Web sites, and he contributes to many of the major magazines and newspapers in the gaming field, including Midwest Gaming and Travel, Slot Manager, Casino Journal, Strictly Slots and Casino Player.

Listen to John Grochowski's "Casino Answer Man" tips Tuesday through Friday at 5:18 p.m. on WLS-AM (890) in Chicago. Look for John Grochowski on Facebook and Twitter @GrochowskiJ.

John Grochowski Websites:

www.casinoanswerman.com

Books by John Grochowski:

Winning Tips for Casino Games

> More Books By John Grochowski

John Grochowski
John Grochowski is the best-selling author of The Craps Answer Book, The Slot Machine Answer Book and The Video Poker Answer Book. His weekly column is syndicated to newspapers and Web sites, and he contributes to many of the major magazines and newspapers in the gaming field, including Midwest Gaming and Travel, Slot Manager, Casino Journal, Strictly Slots and Casino Player.

Listen to John Grochowski's "Casino Answer Man" tips Tuesday through Friday at 5:18 p.m. on WLS-AM (890) in Chicago. Look for John Grochowski on Facebook and Twitter @GrochowskiJ.

John Grochowski Websites:

www.casinoanswerman.com

Books by John Grochowski:

> More Books By John Grochowski