ddloml
Joined: Dec 5, 2009
• Posts: 70
June 18th, 2010 at 11:27:43 PM permalink
I was playing Pai Gow Poker at Bellagio this past Thursday evening. They have a community 'dragon hand' that can be bought by all of the players at the table, each player buying in for the amount of his/her bet. The dragon hand is set by the dealer the house way, since multiple players could be involved.

All the players at the table set their hands. They decide whether or not to buy the dragon hand. Then dealer sets her hand before setting the dragon hand!

An incident happened causing me to post this. I, and one other at the table, set our hands and decided to buy the dragon hand. The dealer's hand was a Pai Gow, A-K-J-X-X-X-X. So she set A high on the bottom and K-J on top. Then she turned over the dragon hand: 6-6-5-5-Q-7-2. (no straight, no flush). Rather than splitting the pair for the win, she put Q-7 on top, claiming that it was 'house way'. Instead, the dragon hand was a push.

Now, an argument could be made by the mathematicians on this site as to whether the Q-7 should be correct play. I'm more curious as to why the Bellagio has the dealer set the banker hand for all to see before setting the dragon hand. Shouldn't the dragon hand be set first?

Maybe because it's understood and disclosed that the dragon hand is set the house way that it doesn't matter. But it seems that the order the hands are set just doesn't seem to be right. Anyone else who knew what the dealer/banker hand is would set their hand for the win!
Wizard
Joined: Oct 14, 2009
• Posts: 22085
June 18th, 2010 at 11:53:31 PM permalink
I've never seen the Bellagio house way, but I checked four of the house ways I do have, and three of them would have done as the Bellagio did and not split the pairs, because both pairs were sixes or less. According to my two pair strategy, splitting them would have been the better play.

The order of setting the hands doesn't matter mathematically. I don't see any legitimate dispute here.
It's not whether you win or lose; it's whether or not you had a good bet.
odiousgambit
Joined: Nov 9, 2009
• Posts: 8347
June 19th, 2010 at 3:31:10 AM permalink
I noticed a similar weird thing too and posted about it regarding Baccarat, where the set rules for the dealer will mean making the Banco hand lose, taking another card, when it had already won. So it is just something that plays out in Casinos due to the need to have these House Ways, which I think I can see is necessary. The Wizard has to be right, technically there is no foul here.

In the case you cite, it would give a feeling of outrage to see it if you didnt understand the bit about House Way. You're right, maybe it makes to set the Dragon Hand first, especially for some folk who would become convinced they got screwed on purpose.

Did anyone "lose it" over this?
the next time Dame Fortune toys with your heart, your soul and your wallet, raise your glass and praise her thus: “Thanks for nothing, you cold-hearted, evil, damnable, nefarious, low-life, malicious monster from Hell!” She is, after all, stone deaf. ... Arnold Snyder
DJTeddyBear
Joined: Nov 2, 2009
• Posts: 10251
June 19th, 2010 at 5:40:19 AM permalink
Although I play Pai Gow Poker, the Dragon hand is not something I've seen before. But, based on what I read here, I agree with the Wiz that it doesn't matter which is set first, since both are set 'House Way'.

HOWEVER, I agree with you that the Dragon hand should have been set before the dealer hand, and here's why:

If a player is unsure about their own hand, and wants the dealer to set the hand for them, it is done before exposing the dealer's cards.

The Dragon hand should be thought of as a player that needs help every time.

Therefore, the sequence should be that players set their hands first, then the dealer helps any players that request it, then the Dragon hand, and LAST the dealer hand is set.

(The exception would be when a player needs help during a hand that another player is banking. Since the player/banker does NOT need to set his hand house way, the procedure is for him to set his hand before exposing the hand of the player that needs help. So in that case, the sequence is other players set their hands, the player/banker set his hand without exposing it, the dealer helps the players that need help, the Dragon hand is set, then the player/banker hand is exposed.)

The point is, there is a reason for the sequence, and that sequence should dictate that in the hand you describe, the hands were set out of order. But since both were House Way, no foul occurred.

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If you question whether the dealer set the Dragon hand, or their own hand, correctly, you should be able to ask to see the House Way rules. It probably won't be a take-away copy, but still something you can see.

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Quote: ddloml

I, and one other at the table, set our hands and decided to buy the dragon hand.

Is that right?

You get to see your own cards before deciding to bet on the Dragon hand?

While I don't know how having the knowledge of one hand (or even several hands if playing multiple hands and/or peeking at neighbors) can help, it just seems counter-intuitive to be given that option after seeing your cards.

After all, when playing multiple hands, a player is required to set the hand with the biggest bet first. So although such knowledge seems irrelevant, it's not so irrelevant to the casino!
Superstitions are silly, childish, irrational rituals, born out of fear of the unknown. But how much does it cost to knock on wood? 😁
EnvyBonus
Joined: Nov 24, 2009
• Posts: 100
June 19th, 2010 at 6:17:21 AM permalink
I agree with ddloml that they should be setting the dragon hand first, even if for no other reason than to remove the appearance of impropriety when the dealer sets a two-pair hand so that the house wins, when splitting the pairs would have resulted in a house loss.

Quote: DJTeddyBear

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Is that right?

You get to see your own cards before deciding to bet on the Dragon hand?

Yes, that is right.
PapaChubby
Joined: Mar 29, 2010
• Posts: 493
June 19th, 2010 at 6:38:16 AM permalink
As a player, I like the order that the Bellagio uses. My own hand is resolved when the dealer shows his/her cards, then the dragon hand is resolved later when the dragon hand is exposed. If the dragon hand is set first, then both my hand and the dragon hand will be resolved simultaneously when the dealer exposes his/her cards. I like the sequential nature of the Bellagio's system, with two separate opportunities to win.

I guess its kinda like why I prefer to have double-downs dealt down in blackjack. I get one opportunity to win if the dealer busts, then another opportunity when my final card is exposed. More suspense = more fun.
DJTeddyBear
Joined: Nov 2, 2009
• Posts: 10251
June 19th, 2010 at 6:53:39 AM permalink
Papa -

Your two separate resolutions makes sense for the emotional aspect, but still seems to violate standard procedure.

It would make even more sense if they resolve the bets separately as well. Do they?

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I too like double downs dealt down.

About 8 years ago, I was at a table at Gold Coast where the dealer was taking a lot of liberties, including dealing double downs down. It was screwing with my head because it wasn't proper procedure, although I did enjoy it more. I.E. Emotionally it was better.
Superstitions are silly, childish, irrational rituals, born out of fear of the unknown. But how much does it cost to knock on wood? 😁
PapaChubby
Joined: Mar 29, 2010
• Posts: 493
June 19th, 2010 at 9:14:09 AM permalink
I haven't seen it in a long time, but there used to be a "house way" marker that a player could request. A player could request that their own hand be set according to the house way, and the dealer would place this chip on their face down hand. IIRC, the dealer would set their own hand first, and set the players hand in proper turn as the players' hands were being exposed. If I am remembering correctly, it sounds like this dragon hand is being played in a similar fashion.

I've never seen the dragon hand played in this manner. Whenever I've seen it, the dragon hand is offered in turn to each player at the table, and only one player can claim it. He/she then sets the dragon hand themselves, after they've set their own hand and before the dealer exposes. The player could set the dragon hand in any way they chose (i.e., house way was not applicable).

I would opt to play the dragon hand when I was fairly certain that my primary hand would result in a push.
ddloml
Joined: Dec 5, 2009