Pai Gow Poker Casino Etiquette
Pai Gow Poker is one of the most sociable, fun and friendly games that you can play in a real life casino environment. Even new players should not let their inexperience keep them them from the table.
Pai Gow Perks
Before getting into any rules or standards of behaviour, it's worth emphasising why Pai Gow Poker has such a fun, friendly atmosphere:
- it's a relatively new game, with fewer traditions and protocols
- a player's strategy is centered on the way their hand is set, so they can't affect anyone else at the table
- because hands function independently, players are generally happy to share advice
- dealers are also usually happy to give tips and check whether a hand is set properly.
Basic Table Game Etiquette
Casino regulars will be aware of the basic dos and don'ts of table etiquette, but those less accustomed to a real life gaming environment should be aware of a few basic rules:
- Empty seats aren't always free. If a chair is tipped, or there's a marker on the table, a spot may be reserved for a player or a 'Dragon Hand' (an optional second hand in Pai Gow).
- Some tables don't allow mid-deck entry, check with the dealer before joining.
- When asked to cut the cards, cut somewhere in the middle of the deck.
- Chips should not be touched after a bet has been placed.
- Players should wait until all bets are settled before collecting their winnings.
It is customary to tip the dealer, either by placing a small bet for the dealer by stacking chips in front of your main bet, or by pushing chips down the centre of the table toward the dealer, stating clearly "for the dealer"
Mini Pai Gow Poker and the House Way
Beginners, or those looking to ease themselves into the world of Pai Gow Poker, may wish to try Mini Pai Gow Poker first. In this version, the player does not set their own hand into the required five- and two-card layout, instead the dealer sets all cards according to the House Way.
In these simple games, there are few additional rules to consider:
- Only the dealer (the croupier) may touch the cards.
- It is acceptable to ask the dealer for a copy of the House Way, although not all casinos are obliged to show them.
Pai Gow Poker Etiquette
In full Pai Gow Poker, players set their own hand. This alone makes the game a little more complex, but there are also additional options and courtesies to be aware of:
- Setting a hand requires thought, but slowing the game down is frowned upon.
- Handling the cards once they have been set is forbidden.
- Occasionally a dealer on a hot streak will allow players to take the role of dealer.
- If they accept, a player must be willing and able to bankroll the table.
- If another player is made dealer, it is customary to ask before betting against them and to set your hand before the new banker sets theirs.
Playing a second 'Dragon Hand' is acceptable when a table is quiet. During busy periods, however, it is good manners to allow others to join.
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