Pai Gow Poker Tips for Beginners


Pai Gow Poker Table. The key is how you set up your hand.

Pai Gow Poker Table. The key is how you set up your hand.

Two years ago, I started playing Pai Gow Poker.  The following Pai Gow Poker Tips for Beginners will get you started. Compared to Pai Gow Tiles, Pai Gow Poker is a relatively easy game. To begin with, it’s important to know the rules to increase your chances of winning.

First, a little Background

Pai Gow Poker as we know it today first came about in the mid 1980’s. There is some controversy surrounding who first developed the game. Generally, its origins are most widely credited to Sam Torosian and his partner Fred Wolf. The game was modeled and named after Pai Gow Tiles. This Chinese domino game dates back about a thousand years to the Song Dynasty, 960 to 1279.

Pai Gow Tiles

Six players join the dealer at the table where they play with a 52-card deck plus one joker. Each player is dealt a seven-card hand. This is divided into two hands, one with five cards and the other with two. The goal is to defeat both of the hands of the banker, a role that is usually filled by either the dealer, Players can bank the hand as well.


How to play

The standard poker rankings apply.  In addition, players must make sure that the five-card hand has a greater value than the two-card hand. Once the players have arranged their hands, they play it against the banker’s. (usually the dealer)

Dealers are allowed to help players arrange their hands. This called “house way.” It is the same rules that the dealer sets their two hands.  If you set your cards incorrectly, you’ll automatically lose. Subsequently, ask the dealer for placement tips before the hand is dealt. Showing your hand to other players and even the pit boss is acceptable for the correct strategy.

A player is a winner if both hands beat the banker; they’re a loser if the dealer/banker beats their hands. If one hand wins but the other loses, a push occurs. This means that no money is exchanged. If a player ties with the banker, the banker automatically wins.

Pai Gow is usually played because it is a slow game, with many pushes.  Approximately >40% of hand are pushes. On these bets, you neither win nor lose your original ante.  Side bets either win or lose.

Winning one of two hands is a push.

Winning one of two hands is a push.

Pai Gow Poker Tips for Beginners – Strategy

Here are some basic strategy tips for beginners from Play Pai Gai

  1. Don’t split pairs. You’re better off keeping the pair in back, and, in most cases, will push the hand (at worst).
  2. With 2 pair, place your strongest pair in back (weakest pair in front).
  3. With 3 of a kind, only split them up when you are holding aces. Keep a pair in back, and one ace up front.
  4. With 3 pairs, split them up to have 2 pair in back and 1 pair in front. Place your strongest pair up front.
  5. With 4 of a kind, split them up and put a pair up front. The exception to this rule is if you’re holding quad 2s through 6s. Always keep these hands intact.
  6. Split full houses. This is counter intuitive, I know. But chances are high that if you keep the hand intact (in back) that you’ll push (at best). When you split the hand up you have a (high) chance of winning.
  7. When in doubt, ask the dealer to set your cards ‘the house way.’ This is better than guessing and making less than optimal plays.

joker-cardThe Joker in Pai Gow by  from About

Instead of acting as a whatever-card-you-want wild card, the joker in Pai Gow is called a “bug.” It acts as an ace unless it can be used to fill out a straight or a flush. This also means that you can have five aces, which is the best possible five-card hand in Pai Gow..

So there you have it.  I suggest you check out the Wizard of Odds website to practice before you hit the tables.

Related Post – Resouces for Gambling Part 3 – Pai Gow Poker

That’s all for today.


Casino Industry Rewards, ADT and ITV

Casino Industry Rewards, ADT and ITV should all go hand in hand. Loyalty Programs needs more than just ADT to decide players comps. ADT, or Average Daily Theoretical, is what drives the casino industry comp system. ADT measures your worth to the casino. With local casinos so close to so many Americans, gambling has never been more popular. But the loyalty system based on ADT needs something more  – it needs ITV.  We know about casinos and your ADT, but what’s ITV you ask? Read on….

Related Post – Casino Comps and “Average Daily Theoretical”

TravelZork’s Michael Trager recently wrote an article “Why Vegas Casino Loyalty Is Broken.” It looked at what is happening in Las Vegas with casino rewards and casino fees. And previously, in his TwitPic of the Week Monologue (360 Vegas Podcast Episode #282) Mark Wojtowic referred to it as well. Both inspired me.  So, I ask you, “what is the casino industry missing in offering a better recreational gambling experience?”

What motivates our recreational Gambling experience?


Intrinsic motivation refers to behavior that is driven by internal rewards. It’s something that arises within the individual because the behavior is naturally satisfying. This contrasts with extrinsic motivation, which involves a behavior to earn external rewards.

ADT is built on extrinsic rewards – comped dining, entertainment and free slot play. The physical casino also offers extrinsic motivation. Sounds, chair comfort, colors and casino design all aid to offer some form of endorphin release. Even the scent of casino air is sometimes artificially enhanced for the gambler’s benefit.

Recreational gambling offers lots of extrinsic rewards. But the gaming industry has forgotten, or chose to disregard, the most important part. The chance of winning and the time spent in the chase is more important than all of that.  In other words, the intrinsic incentive of fun in recreational gambling is ceasing to be a factor.

Average Daily Theoretical and Intrinsic Motivation

Average Daily Theoretical is your value to the casino. The math to determine your ADT is based on the above.

ADT (Average Daily Theoretical) is how the casino measures your worth. It considers how much you play, the denomination of your play, and the length of time you play in a day. I suggest it’s time we, the casino guest, measure the casino’s worth by developing a new measurement called IVT (Intrinsic Theoretical Value). It would be a measure of bankroll length, gaming rules, rewards club comparisons and winnings.

Seriously, an ITV sounds crazy, but, it could work. The player would log the following when gambling:

  • comparing length of bankroll,
  • gaming rules
  • awarded comps  “over time”
  • and maybe an ambiance/fun quotient

We then would compare casino value in a vaguely measurable way. Think how cool it would be to visit a casino on the basis of their “ITV.”  Casino Industry Rewards, ADT and ITV – are they a future consideration?

Lower slots odds, 6:5 Blackjack, automatic shuffle machines, less odds at the Craps table, and unplayable video poker, have damaged our intrinsic motivation. Give the player less “bells and whistles.” Increase the hope of winning and the length of time our bankroll lasts. The ever-present greed in the gambling industry is causing a feeling  of “why bother?” This is your recreational gambling ITV taking a hit.

las Vegas data misunderstood?

Las Vegas

Resort Fees, Low Gambling Value Increses in Las Vegas & the rest of the U.S.

In Las Vegas, gambling CEO’s seem puzzled by the dip in gambling revenue. But most months have a higher visitor stat. One main reason is that the total gambling bankroll is shackled. Parking fees, resort fees, CSN fees, higher food and drink prices, and less player comps are all the culprits. Add a bigger house edge with game rules and pay out percentages like 6:5 BJ and 7/5 video poker and “why bother?” That response is an internal feeling of hopelessness in the experience of gambling, a decreased ITV.

Casino Rewards Clubs are also squeezing the fun out of the experience.  Cut backs in comps and rewards, such as in CET’s Total Rewards and Boyd’s B Connected, are changing where we gamble. One example is shortened periods for accruing rewards points . Another is the tightening of casino rewards programs, making it harder to rise in tier level.


IVT will increase with greater hospitality, gambling options, and less “nickel & dining.” CEO’s wouldn’t need to be looking for skill-based games, stadium gaming and sports betting as THE panacea for their misappropriated understanding of getting guests of all ages through the doors.

It’s really so simple. I feel good when my gambling experience lasts longer and is potentially better financially. I will visit more, stay longer, and take in more amenities at the casino property inner motivation has been met.



Questions About Casino Chips

This post is all about casino chips. Someone once said, “The guy who invented poker was bright, but the guy who invented the poker chip was a genius.”   Ever wonder about that little round wonder, the casino chip? …..I have. If you think about it, casino chips are the universal symbol of money. Gambling made it possible. Here are a few questions that led to some interesting facts about the evolution of casino chip.

1) Why were chips ever used in casinos?

When gambling became widespread in the 18th century, one difficulty was that people who gambled had different types of coins or valuables for wagering. To solve this problem some gambling venues offered gamblers substitutes like pieces of ivory, bones or clay. In the USA, the humble origins of the modern day familiar casino chips were born out of necessity. The game of poker first developed in the mid 1800’s along the Mississippi and other saloons and bars throughout the West.

Related Post – Your Casino Bankroll Requires Planning – Questions and Answers

2) Were fake or forged casino chips found in the early days? 

Yes. Gamblers began to forge substitutes. As a result, gambling establishments began to brand their own chips. The only surviving relic of casino plates is the large plate (check) with a printed value. The problem continued, so casinos responded in the same old way – each casino created specially designed, hard-to-replicate chips that were unique to their venue. Chips became standardized in size, but the materials used for them, such as clay or expensive ivory, still varied widely.

3) What are today’s chips made of?

Manufacturers now use high-pressure techniques combined with a mix of composite to produce chips. To hinder forgery the casinos even include a microchip in their chips

4) Can I use one Casino’s chips in another casino? 

Hardly ever, so it’s always best to cash out before you leave. In Las Vegas, it’s common to see casino chips with the name of two different casinos printed on them – one on either side is the standard. Check with the pit boss or poker chip cashier first to make sure they are usable.

5) What do the different colors mean?

In most casinos, the color of the chip represents the denomination of the chip:

  • white – $1
  • red – $5
  • yellow – $20 (sometimes used at tables for commission wins tables such as Pai Gow Poker)
  • green – $25
  • black – $100

after $100, colors can vary, but here are the most usual

  • purple – $500
  • orange – $1000

6) Do casino chips ever change or are taken out of distribution?

Casino chips are occasionally cancelled (taken out of circulation) by casinos. Reasons this is done are (1) the casino goes out of business (2) the casino changes its name (3) the casino changes its chip design. Advanced notice is required by law when casinos change their chip design to allow people a chance to cash in chips. Genuine casino chips are usually cancelled in one of three ways:

  1. a drill hole
  2. notching or clipping the edges off
  3. overstamping

7) Why do casinos use chips? 

The primary reason casinos prefer chips over cash is because chips add a little mental separation between the gambler and his valuable money. It’s a little easier for you, the gambler, to place a big bet because it’s just chips….basic psychology. The other two reasons are:

  • It is easier for surveillance to tell what is going on with chips. On camera from a distance a $20 bill and a $5 bill look very similar, but a red chip and a green chip look nothing alike. In a game like roulette where many many people are betting on a single layout, the different colors allow the dealer, surveillance and security to know who each bet belongs to.
  • Since chips equal cash for many people, sometimes people will take home the casino chips and just never cash them in. Less money paid out by the casino = more money for the casino.

Casino Chips Collecting

Casino chip collecting became increasingly popular during the 1980s, as evidenced by the sale of chips through several casino and collecting newsletters. Bill Borland’s Worldwide Casino Exchange (early 1980s) had a casino story each issue and dozens of old chips for sale. There are many different ways to collect casino chips. Because of the amount of chips available and the increasing price of some, collectors have begun to specialize. A collector might choose to collect every chip from a certain casino or one from every Las Vegas casino.

Related Post – The Online Information source for Casino Chip Collectors –

As for me, I like to collect pens – yes, casino pens.

That’s all for now.