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.

pai_gow_poker_intro

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 Poker.org:

  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 Poker.com

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.

Binbin

16 Casino Do’s and Don’ts For the New Recreational Gambler

Casino Entrance sign

So, your friend or family member offers to take you to a casino for your very first time.  But, never having been before, you haven’t a clue about what to do when you get there.  So, here are 16 Casino Do’s and Don’ts to enjoy your recreational visit to the casino.

Bankroll, Game Rules and Rewards Club

1) Know how much money you can wager and lose.  Yes, that’s right, lose.  Know your Bankroll. Approach it as entertainment first. Remember, if you’re not an Advantage Player looking to make a living, it’s recreation.th (33)

2) Know the rules of the games you might play.  If you can, get a free app on your smart phone or tablet and play a little before you go.

3) Decide if your trip is for gambling only, or it’s to enjoy all that the casino experience can  offer. You can spend sometime dining, shopping or watching live entertainment. These are good activities too. Just don’t gamble in casinos to make your trip productive.

4) Sign up for a rewards card.  You may get a free slot play bonus, or get freebies for eats later on. You could get free tickets to a concert, and if you play enough to raise your level of card, you could get additional things from a special parking area for your card level, to entrance into a VIP lounge.  th (26)

5) Be contented with small casino wins. First timers usually lose more in casinos. Breaking even in casinos is generally considered a win.

Casino Do’s and Don’ts – Online Resources

6) Check the local newspaper for advertisements, or check the web on the best deals in casinos.  netime-logo NECANETimeGambling often lists promotions and New England casino news on Twitter and Facebook.  Sign-up bonuses, double points, giveaways, dining deals – they’re all for the taking.  Go where the whole experience will be great, not just the gambling.

7) Don’t believe in superstitions like “hot machines” or “it must be time my luck changed’ or, “surely it can’t be red again” because each bet is an event of it’s own, with no connection to the previous event.  As soon as you realize this, the easier it will be for you to understand the gambling experience.  Repeat after me – “The House has the advantage.”  Good! Now go out there and enjoy it, win or lose. Be prepared ahead of time and be knowledgeable.

8) Do drink alcohol responsibly when gambling.  Excessive alcohol will inevitably cause you to accept losing beyond a “healthy situation.”

9) Do Bring a watch and your cell phone.  Casinos show no clocks, and don’t provide windows Wrist devices like FitBit or Apple Watches can signal you with incoming messages by vibrations or sounds that you can feel or hear above the cacophony of  noise in the casino and prove invaluable.

Be Aware Of the Little Things

10) Casinos convert your cash into chips at the tables. Simply said, this is so you lose the sense that this is really money. Remember chips ARE money.

11) Don’t be afraid to ask staff for help.  Remember, the casino is built on getting you there (or should be) and so there are many people who are there simply to help you as a hospitality service.th (1)  Don’t be shy.  If you are new (or not) to the game, please ask the dealer for advice. They want you to win! The more you win, the more likely you are to tip, however tip for their helpfullness and entertaining personality – they have nothing to do with your winning.  Don’t worry about taking a little longer. Everyone starts as a beginner, and most will appreciate your attempt to make the correct play.
12) Don’t hand dealers chips or cash – they are not allowed to handle it directly.  The “Eye in the Sky” is watching your play and their work. Put the chips or cash on the table. They will not accept it any other way.

Non-smoking, Tipping, and pictures

13) If you smoke, be aware of those around you. If you are a non-smoker in a smoking part of the casino, be flexible.  Reach a common ground that you both can be comfortable with.th (16)
14) Take a walk around when you arrive.  In this day and age, make sure you know your nearest exits if new to that property. Get acquainted with your surroundings. Casinos can be difficult to navigate through.  That’s the way they want it.
th (2)

Tip your waitstaff, especially if you request specific items.

15) Carry dollar bills for tips. In most casinos, complimentary beverages are served, but the wait staff is usually expecting a small tip.

Related Post – Tips on Tipping

16) Be aware of the casino’s rules concerning using your phone for taking pics.  Each casino has different rules and it is important for player to be aware of them.  Hey, SELFIE-ADDICTS – Taking pictures in a casino or talking on a cell phone can get you into big trouble if it breaks the rules.  Some casinos allow some picture taking, like when a jackpot is hit. But don’t be surprised when you asked to put your phone away. SELFIE STICKS aren’t tolerated by both the casino staff and the patrons.  Remember, many visitors would prefer not to be in anyone’s picture – especially those Advantage Players that make a living in anonymity.
Finally, have fun.  It’s social, it’s entertainment.  Let’s just leave it as that.
That’s all for now.
Binbin

Pai Gow Poker Tips – Pai Gow Poker Rules

Pai Gow Poker sounds like a difficult game to play. Playing any new table game at the casino for the first time can be intimidating. Knowing how to play your cards as well as knowing the rules of the table is a lot the first time. This is when Pai Gow Poker Tips come in handy.

The emotional feeling of being embarrassed in front of other players is enough to go play the nearest slot instead. Even though there is that intimidation factor in playing any new table game, Pai Gow isn’t necessarily one of them.

Last year I made a resolution to play new games.  So far, I have learned Pai Gow, 3 Card Poker and continues playing Craps. Here are my personal suggestions that helped me dig into that resolution and DO it!

Related posts: Pai Gow Poker Tips for Beginners and Resources for Gambling Part 3 – Pai Gow Poker

Tip #1-Prepare Pai Gow Poker before playing at the casino.

Practice, using an app for your smart phone and (I can’t say this enough) visit the Wizard of Odds website. Once there, you can learn the basics of the game, and learn strategy with the training game, all for free.

Tip #2-Play in the early morning

I enjoy playing early when I have the casino to myself. This is an opportune time to ease into play. When I played at first at Borgata last year,  I was very lucky to find an empty table just waiting for me.  The dealer and the pit boss both taught my first live lesson. I had my own personal table, complete with professional tutors!

Tip #3-Things you can only learn at the table.

There are just some things you can’t learn on an app, like:

  • With the use of a shuffle master, you have to wait for the green button to go off before picking up your cards.  You have to wait to be sure the deal is good.
  • There is a  commission on each hand. It equals $1.25 on a $5 winning bet.
  • The Fortune bonus side bet is available. Dealers and players will help you.
  • The house has certain rules to set both hands, and the player can always ask to have the hands done by house rules as well as asking other players.
  • The numbers on the table refer to the random number chosen to start dealing the hands.

Pai Gow Poker Final considerations

  • Over 60% of the hands played will end in a push
  • The Strategy is not hard to learn
  • Pai Gow has a very low house edge, which makes it a good game to play to lengthen your session.
  • because of the low house edge, comps are harder to come by because rewards points are often slower to accrue.

While I didn’t last that long (being the only player at the table will do that) at Borgata, it was a great experience.  I have since played at MGM Springfield, Mohegan Sun, Foxwoods, Twin River Casino and Tiverton Casino, with varying results.  But, I find it fun, slow for those times you want to spend more time, and usually a friendly game.

It’s Story Time

Here is one last story. While I was attending Zorkfest, Las Vegas, I decided to go next door to the Mirage to play some Pai Gow. I never played side bets because I always thought they had too much of a house edge for me to play them. According to the  Wizard of Odds website, “Fortune” is a side bet in Pai Gow Poker pays based on the value of the player’s seven cards. It doesn’t not matter how the player sets his hand. In addition, you will get an “Envy Bonus.” if another player has a four of a kind or better and played the Fortune bet  At every table I have seen there is a $5 minimum and the Envy Bonus is a fixed amount.

Like I said, I never play the side bet. But, On this night, however, one player at the table had 5 Aces (there is one joker that can be the value of an ace).  At 400 to 1, his $5 bet won $2000.00.  Everyone else at the table was paid the envy bonus of $250, except one – ME!

Needless to say, I almost always play the Fortune Bonus.

Binbin