Pai Gow Poker Dragon Hand

Pai Gow DragonThe suspense that comes from awaiting the outcome of a bad Pai Gow hand with a large wager is one of the most nerve racking features of the otherwise enjoyable game of Pai Gow Poker. We’ve all been there before, having just set a bad-hand such as a jack-high pai gow and hoping that by some miracle the dealer makes a hand with absolutely no top. If your experience has been like mine, often when faced with this situation, at least one other player at the table takes their time setting their hand. The wait time can be brutal, as you eagerly wait for the arrival of your next hand.

If you’re familiar with the feeling I’m talking about, you’ll be pleased to learn that there is a betting option called the “Dragon Hand”. This is an option only offered at select casinos, but for the most part it’s offered at all Vegas off-strip casinos including downtown, while only available at a few strip casinos.

What is a Dragon Hand

The Dragon Hand is dealt to an empty seat and players have the ability after setting their hand to decide to bet on the Dragon Hand or not.

Rules for betting the Dragon hands differ from casino to casino. Some casinos allow all players to bet the hand, which will then be set house way. Other Casinos have a dragon hand button which passes around the table (similar to the banker button) and each player in counter clock-wise direction will be offered the opportunity to take the dragon hand. In this case players taking the dragon hand can match the bets they just made, and now play a second hand.

The reason this game is not offered often at Strip Casinos is many of these casinos are more populated, meaning there is an empty seat less often, and most of these casinos already allow players to play two hands.

Dragon Hand No Empty Seat

Casinos offering Dragon Hands will only offer it when one of more seats are vacant, as without an empty seat there are not enough cards to deal a Dragon Hand.

Do any Online Casinos offer the Dragon Hand?

To our knowledge Dragon Hand betting is available only at live casinos. Most online sites, such as Bodog Casino, are fast paced, so the Dragon Hand will hardly be missed. If you would like to play the traditional Pai Gow Poker game, check out our Pai Gow Poker online page.

Which Las Vegas Casinos Offer Dragon Hands?

We can only speak from experience as the research required to make a complete list would be too extensive for our Pai Gow “fan-based” site. Casinos we know of from first hand account offering the Dragon Hand are Golden Nugget, Luxor, Palms and M Resort. We’ll make a guess that approximately 20 percent of Las Vegas Casinos offer the dragon hand betting option.

When to take the Dragon Hand

When to take the Dragon Hand is a personal preference thing, though generally most players take the Dragon Hand when they’re dealt a Pai Gow, as it gives them a chance to push or just lose commission if the Dragon Hand is good. Proper bankroll management, however, would likely suggest always passing on the Dragon Hand.

There is a myth that viewing other cards at the table can help to get a better idea of what the dragon hand might hold. While true, this has limited value in reducing house advantage, because even if every hand at the table were seen, there are 18 cards unseen (7 in the dragon hand, 7 in the dealer hand, and 4 unused) and any combination can be either in the Dealer Hand or the Dragon Hand. Not knowing which cards are where, the gained information has marginal value if any value at all.