Pai Gow Poker Glossary and Terms

Learning a new game can be confusing, especially since writers (like me) tend to forget that we’re teaching beginners. We make the mistake of using big words that beginners don’t know yet.

That’s why this page exists.

Below are terms commonly used in pai gow poker, and examples where appropriate:

Fortune Side Bet – This is a side bet that pays based on 7 cards. There’s an Envy Bonus side bet, too. The house edge is 7.77%.

EZ Pai Gow Poker – This is a commission free variant. If the dealer has a queen high pai gow hand, the hand will push. There are 4 side bets for players, too. The joker may or may not be fully wild.

Pai Gow Mania – This is a variant with 2 side bets. The house edge is 3.86 percent, or 4.48 percent with the 7-card side bet.

House Edge – This refers to how often the casino will win over the long run. For example, a 10 percent house edge would theoretically mean that for every $1 you spend, you will get 90 cents of it back (over the long run).

Banker – The banker is last to act. Their hand plays against the players. If the banker is a player, they can usually set their hand however they want. If it’s a co-banker or the casino, then they have to set the hand according to the casino’s house way rules.

Dragon Hand – Empty seats are referred to as dragon hands. This hand may be offered to players, and the first player to accept it, gets to play it. It will be like playing two separate hands (similar to blackjack). It comes with the upside of seeing more cards, and getting an idea of what the dealer may or may not have.

House Way – The casino rules that specify how a dealer / banker must set their hands.

Commission – This is the fee the casino takes and is how they make their money. Most casinos take a 5 percent fee for winning pai gow poker hands.

Progressive (Jackpot) – This is a side bet. The jackpot grows every time players make the side bet (and miss). It pays out when a player makes the winning combination. This can be thousands, sometimes millions of dollars.

Jokolor – This is a side bet on the outcome of the joker/other cards being the same color.

G3 Bonus – This is a side bet. The house edge varies between 3 and almost 8 percent. There is a progressive jackpot bet.

Copy Hand – When the player’s hand is the same as the dealer’s. Often the banker / dealer wins ‘copy hands.’

Foul (Hand) – When a player screws up setting their hand, such as making their front hand bigger than the back hand. Online nothing happens – in a live casino this is a foul, and often will result in the player automatically losing their initial wager.

House Advantage – See house edge.

Joker – This is the 53rd card in the deck. In standard pai gow games, this is a semi wild card that can complete straights, flushes or be ace highs. In some casinos or variations, the joker can be fully wild.

Push – When both the player and banker have one winning hand (of two). The bets are returned (no one wins), and (most times) no commission is taken from the player.

Minor Hand – A name for the front (2-card) hand.

Hand Behind – A name for the back (5-card) hand.

Hand in Front – A name for the front (2-card) hand.