The Side Bets – Good or Bad in Pai-Gow Poker

When you play Pai Gow poker you find it easy to set your hands with some practice in the game. Also you must have seen your co players at the Pai Gow poker table using side bets and taking a chance in the game. If you are sure about your side bet you will find that side bet adds a jackpot element to Pai Gow poker. But first let us see what is side bet in 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.”

Fortune Pai Gow Poker Return Pay Tables

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

It is to understand that this Fortune side bet adds a jackpot element to pai-gow poker, but the house edge is variable. 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 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 hand. 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.

The Envy Bonus

Calculating each additional player at the table reduces the house edge by 0.92 percent because of their potential to trigger the envy bonus.At some casinos, the envy bonus is paid only to players who bet at least $5 on Fortune. Then the bonus is $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 will certainly be a no to the making of the Fortune bet. You probably wouldn’t make it with a full table with six additional players reducing the overall edge to 2.3 percent, but for the jackpot hunters they are ready in taking a flyer at that level.

Fortune Pai Gow Poker Return Envy Bonuses

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

Below table showing Pai Gow Poker the number of combinations, probability, and contribution to the return for each hand where the lower left cell shows a house edge of 7.77% before considering the Envy Bonus.

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 6 Card Bonus bet at Three Card Poker

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.

So what is now to decide after understanding all these factors. It is that whenever the casino proposes a wager that requires you to put more money on the layout, it most likely is offering you a losing proposition. Better stated, it is a sucker bet that carries a high house edge.

The fortune bonus is a side bet that pays strictly on the value of a your seven cards and not how you set your hand. In addition, if another player has a four-of-a-kind or better, the player making the fortune bet will get what is called an envy bonus, a bonus that is paid when other players at the table make a certain pay table hand. To qualify for the envy bonus, typically a minimum of $5 must be bet on the fortune bonus.

Based on a typical pay table, the fortune bonus pai gow wager has a house edge of nearly 8% before considering the envy bonus. With the envy wager, you can subtract approximately 1% for each additional player at the table.

Therefore all said and done you stay clear of a fortune bonus pai gow wager as pai gow poker already has some of the best odds of most casino games outside of craps or blackjack, so don’t give the casino any more chance to have your money in their pockets.