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HOW TO PLAY PAI GOW

The object of Pai Gow poker is for a player to create two poker hands out of the seven-card hand he/she is dealt by the dealer: a five-card hand, and a two-card poker hand. The five-card hand's value must exceed the two-card hand's. The two-card hand is often called the hand "in front" or "on top" or "hair", or the "small" or "minor" or "low" hand. The five-card hand is called the hand "behind", or the "bottom" or "high" or "big" (as they are placed that way in front of the player, when the player is done setting them).

The cards are shuffled, and then dealt to the table in seven face-down piles of seven cards per-pile. Four cards are unused regardless of the number of people playing.

Betting positions are assigned a number from 1 to 7, starting with whichever player is acting as banker that hand, and counting counter-clockwise around the table. A number from 1 to 7 is randomly chosen (either electronically or manually with dice), then the deal begins with the corresponding position and proceeds counter-clockwise. One common way of using dice to determine the dealer starting number is to roll three six-sided dice, and then count betting spots clockwise from the first position until the number on the dice is reached.

If a player is not sitting on a particular spot, the hand is still assigned, but then placed on the discard pile with the four unused cards. In some casinos, such as the Golden Nugget & Palms in Las Vegas, Nevada, an extra "dragon hand" is dealt if a seat is vacant. After all players have set their original hand they are asked in turn if they would like to place another bet to play the dragon hand. Generally the bet on the dragon hand can be the table minimum up to the amount the player bet on their original hand. The first player to accept the dragon hand receives it, this player is effectively playing two separate hands. Rules vary from casino to casino, but generally the dealer turns over the dragon hand and sets it using the house way. This is because the player has already seen 7 cards (their original hand) which could affect they way they would set the dragon hand.

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