Pai Gow Poker Tips

Published: 14/05/2012

There are plenty of versions of Pai Gow Poker to choose from, including the original game introduced in California in the 1980s and the more modern innovations, such as Mini Pai Gow Poker and Revolving Bank Pai Gow Poker. No matter what name it goes by, Pai Gow Poker ranks among the best table games in any casino, thanks to its low House Edge and very few decisions required.

To the greatest degree possible, the player should always attempt to reduce the House advantage through card play. Managing one’s money wisely is the other key to ongoing success at the table. Offered below are a number of tips to help players get the most out of playing Pai Gow Poker.

Master the Basics – Become familiar with the House Way. In most cases, it will indicate the optimum way to arrange any hand, much like Basic Blackjack Strategy informs players and keeps the House Edge at a minimum.

Bank Whenever Possible – The odds favour the Banker hand, so accept the opportunity to play it whenever it is offered. Also, bet as much as possible when holding the Bank, and as little as possible when playing against it. Some tutorials advise betting from six to fourteen times more when Banking than when not. In the long term, the odds will reward such play.

Have a Big Enough Bankroll – The general rule of thumb is that the starting bankroll for a session should by 50-100 times the amount of the average anticipated bet. When playing at a Pai Gow Poker table with a minimum wager of £10, at least £500 and as much as £1,000 should be available. Also keep in mind that players who hold the Bank must be able to cover the wagers of all other players at the table. Don’t be caught light. If possible, play at a table with few other players to reduce the risk.

Set the Best 2-Card Low Hand – Beginners at Pai Gow Poker tend to concentrate all of their attention on the 5-card High Hand, which is natural given its resemblance to a regular poker hand. But the 2-card Low Hand is equally important. It, too, must win in order for winnings to be collected.

Splitting Two Pair – Following the House Way is a good option, but there may be a better one. Michael Shackleford, the Internet’s “Wizard of Odds” has calculated that as much as 0.04% can be shaved off the House Edge by NOT splitting the two pair when “the sum of the ranks is 9 or less and you have a king or ace singleton, or the sum of the ranks is 15 or less and you have an ace singleton.” Sum of the ranks means adding the value of each pair, such as 7s and 5s would yield 7 + 5 = 12, so do not split when holding a singleton Ace.

Setting Three Pairs – The House Way indicates that the highest of the three pairs should be set in the 2-card Low Hand. This rule should never be broken.

Lowest Five of Six – When holding a six-card straight or flush, arrange the lowest high card straight or flush in the 5-card High Hand. Save the highest card in the sequence for the 2-card Low Hand.

Never Play a Full House – Almost irresistible is the temptation to keep trips and a pair together in the 5-card High Hand. It happens so infrequently and the combination can hardly be beat. But the 2-card Low Hand must win, too, and as the House Way demands, the only exception to placing the pairs in the Low Hand is when they are deuces and the A-K is available.

Ask for Help – There is no shame in asking for assistance. The House Way is not easy to remember. When Dealers are asked for help in setting a hand, they are trained to tell players what the House Way requires. Occasionally, a casino may allow other players at the table to advise one another, which makes for a very social game and develops a “team spirit” against the Dealer.

Published on: 14/05/2012

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