Poll

12 votes (54.54%)
4 votes (18.18%)
3 votes (13.63%)
No votes (0%)
4 votes (18.18%)
3 votes (13.63%)
No votes (0%)
1 vote (4.54%)
1 vote (4.54%)
4 votes (18.18%)

22 members have voted

Wizard
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Wizard
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Thanks for this post from:
AyecarumbaZuga
October 17th, 2017 at 10:40:04 AM permalink
I'm happy to announce that I finally got around to shooting three videos on pai gow (tiles) last week. The first part was on the rules, the second on strategy, and the third is on miscellaneous questions on pai gow. So look forward to those coming out soon after we edit them.

I also plan to dust off my pai gow program and try to come up with a simple basic strategy for the game once and for all.

The question for the poll is how much do you like pai gow?
It's not whether you win or lose; it's whether or not you had a good bet.
Wizard
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October 17th, 2017 at 10:48:55 AM permalink
Quote: TigerWu

In my opinion, I think you can learn enough in a couple hours to actually sit at a table and play. If you go by the "basic strategy:"

1) Have a pair? Put those two together, and play the two remaining tiles together. Pay close attention to the unmatched pairs, though (5,7,8,9), as well as Gee Joon. That is what trips up most beginners.

2) If you have a 2 or 12, play it with a 7, 8, or 9, and play the remaining two tiles together.

3) If you have two tiles that add up to 9, play them together, and play the remaining two tiles together.

4) If you can't do steps 1-3, play the highest tile and lowest tile together, and play the remaining two tiles together.

5) If you can't do steps 1-4, put your tiles down and ask the dealer to set them in the House Way.

I think steps 1-4 covers like 80% of all Pai Gow hands fairly well, and it's pretty automatic: "if you have these tiles, do this." You can memorize the tile order and get a grasp of the basic strategy above in a few hours. After you do that, the rest is just more memorization and learning exceptions to the basic strategy. Tiles seems like a scary game at first, but I think it's really easy to at least get your foot in the door to start playing. I've taught people how to play in less than an hour before, but that is with reference cards to constantly look at.

My best tip? Next time you're on the Strip, go to Harrah's early in the morning on a weekday when you can have the table all to yourself. They would love to teach you how to play. Seriously.



The above was quoted from the "Ask the Wizard" thread, with permission. This post has in large part got me thinking of doing a basic strategy for the game. Here are some thoughts about your suggestions:

1. I'm thinking of counting a gong as 10 points, a wong as 11, and any pair as 12. Then, if splitting the pair raises the combined total of points, then split. Something along those lines. In other words, a general rule for splitting any pair.

2. Yes, but sometimes there is a teen or day with more than one of 7, 8, and 9. My general rule would be along the lines to play the lowest high hand, except if you can't get the low hand to at least 3, then maximize the high.

3, 4. I don't like that one. My general rule of thumb is that if you can get the low to at least 5, then balance. If that doesn't work, and you can't get the high to at least a high 6, then go back to balancing.

5. Yes, the dealer is always there as a safety net, but I'd like to cover every possible situation.
It's not whether you win or lose; it's whether or not you had a good bet.
gamerfreak
gamerfreak
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October 17th, 2017 at 11:06:52 AM permalink
I'm glad to see you are making some videos and updating your strategy/article. I have been intrigued by the game for quite some time.

I created a "EZ Pai Gow Tiles" variant that allows the game to be learned in 5 minutes by a new player while hardly changing anything about the core game. I'm doubtful that I will ever do anything with the idea for a few reasons. Mostly, I am not confident that a tiles variant would be very marketable given the game's small player base, although it does seem quite popular at certain casino's here on the East Coast. I'd also be concerned that any change to the game, even as miniscule as this is, would not be well received by superstitious asian players.

Has there been any successful Pai Gow Tile sidebets?
DJTeddyBear
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October 17th, 2017 at 11:09:19 AM permalink
I used to have a cheat sheet to remind me of the miss matched pairs. Having lost that a couple years ago, I don't play anymore. I don't love it enough to bother making a new one.

Except when in town for a Wizard to meet up and we play together. THEN it's a lot of fun.
Superstitions are silly, childish, irrational rituals, born out of fear of the unknown. But how much does it cost to knock on wood? Note that the same could be said for Religion. I.E. Religion is nothing more than organized superstition.
Ayecarumba
Ayecarumba
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October 17th, 2017 at 12:41:15 PM permalink
I am looking forward to the videos. The game is intimidating because it doesn't appear that any of the dealers I have seen can clearly explain it in English.
America is all about speed. Hot, nasty, bad-ass speed. - Eleanor Roosevelt, 1936
TigerWu
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October 17th, 2017 at 1:07:55 PM permalink
Harrah's has that basic strategy printed on the cards they have at their Tile table. It's a pretty handy card if you play there.

Another "rule of thumb" I heard from an old Chinese gentleman is if you still have no idea what to do, "push everything to the front, or push everything to the back." Basically, ignore balance and make either hand as strong as possible in hopes of a push. No idea how the math checks out on this; it's more or less an "emergency" strategy if you just get a brain cramp or something.

Quote:

2. Yes, but sometimes there is a teen or day with more than one of 7, 8, and 9.



In this case, Harrah's recommends playing the lowest of the 7,8, or 9 first with the 2 or 12. That is, if you have 12 and 7, 9, x, play the 12 with the 7 and the 9 with x. Again, this is purely a basic, basic strategy and is not mathematically sound in all cases. Simply something to give you a decent hand and keep the game going.

Here's a cut and paste from another post of mine about banking, as well as some added information:

When I'm playing alone I bank as often as possible, which of course is every other hand. I also make sure to take my time setting up the tiles for delivery, and select a delivery style that is slightly more complex and will take a longer time to deal (e.g. Phoenix Tail, One Man Two Women, Ghost Closes the Door, etc.). Then when I'm setting my hand I won't just pick them up and look; rather I'll feel all the dots, set my hand blind, and THEN pick them up to double check before finalizing it. Sometime if I'm not sure of a hand I'll ask the dealer what the house way is, and this can lead to a minute or two discussion, especially if the dealer is a talker. All this time-wasting serves to slow down the game and help "eat into" the house edge, but I wouldn't do it if other players were at the table.

When other players are there, ESPECIALLY Asians (I'm white), you have to be careful when you bank because a lot of them are superstitious. Generally it's okay to bank after the dealer has had a huge win, otherwise the other players will either sit out the hand or try to talk you out of banking. Then everyone will go in together against the house, and the players' hand is usually divided up between two people to set. When the table is full of Asians, I usually just go along with whenever they decide to bank purely for etiquette reasons. If there's only one or two other people, I will ask them if they mind if I bank, but even then I won't do every other hand.

Now I will give a detailed description of a co-banking scenario:

At some point after the end of the last end, one person will indicate he wishes to bank. If the player has not specified, the dealer will ask him which spot he wishes the bank to be on. This can be any spot on the table, regardless of where the player sits. The dealer will place the chung (banker tile) on that spot. The dealer then goes around the table asking each player if he wishes to co-bank, and for how much money. There is some stipulation about how much you can bank based on your last hand, but I don't know what it is since I'm a flat bettor. The players do not have to put up any money at this point (nor even play) but I like to at least have the amount sitting in front of me (not in the betting circle) so there isn't any confusion. The dealer will assemble the chips from the chip tray totaling the amount of money wagered by the players and place it in front of him.

After the tiles have been shuffled and stacked (this usually happens before asking the players how much they're banking for), the dealer will push the woodpile over the the main banker who then may cut the tiles and set them up for delivery in a style he so chooses. There is usually a house-approved list of delivery styles, but I am told there are several pit bosses at Harrah's who will allow "outside" styles. The main banker also has the option to just tell the dealer what style he wants, and the dealer will set up the tiles in the appropriate manner.

After this is done the dealer will pick up the dice cup and shake the dice. He will then place the dice cup on the table and slide it over to the main banker, who will then pick up the dice cup and shake it again. One of the funnest parts of banking Pai Gow is slamming the dice cup on the table after you are done shaking it. I'm not sure how hard of a slam the house will tolerate; I've hit it pretty hard myself, and I once saw a high roller slam it so hard I thought he was going to crack the table. I am also not sure if other players are allowed to shake the dice in lieu of the main banker; I've only ever seen the main banker do it.

After the main banker has shaken the dice, the dealer lifts the cup and exposes the dice total. This indicates the spot that the first tiles are dealt to. The dealer will deal all of the tiles out, and place the aforementioned stack of chips on top of his tiles (this is usually done with the chung when the house is banking). The main banker takes the tiles dealt to the banking spot and the rest of the tiles are collected up by the dealer and set aside. At this point several things may happen...

The main banker can simply set the tiles as he wishes and be done with it. However, due to other people's money being on the line, this is usually not done for etiquette reasons. The main banker can also just flip over all the tiles and the banking players may collectively discuss how to set the hand. What usually happens, however, is that the main banker will give one or two tiles to another player to inspect. According to Harrah's, only one other player is allowed to receive tiles, but I have seen four players involved in this with permission from the house. Again, at this point, there are several things that may happen...

The main banker may give one tile to another player, and then looks at the three tiles remaining in his hand. He will set these tiles how he sees fit, or even just flip them over on the table, and then "ask" the player with the single tile for a specific tile, be it "low" or "high" or "teen" or whatever. Naturally the player with the single tile has no control over what tile he has received, but he has to make a show of trying to produced the requested for tile. This can involve rubbing the tile on the felt to "get rid of" bad or unwanted spots. This player most often will not look at the tile first, but rather feel it with his fingers to determine its ranking. He will then either flip it over and give it to the main banker, or ask for one of the three tiles the main banker has to set the hand.

Another option involves the main banker giving one tile to another player, keeping one tile for himself, and flipping over the remaining two tiles on the table. In this case main banker and the player may go through the process of rubbing the tile on the felt and feeling the tile before flipping it, in the hopes of getting a good tile. At this point, if there is an obvious choice, the player and main banker will each select one of the exposed tiles and put it with the tile in their hand. It is often not uncommon for the in-hand tiles to just be exposed and everyone collaborates as to what the best option would be.

A third option has the main banker giving two tiles to a player and keeping two for himself. The main banker and player will again go through the motions of rubbing and feeling the tiles, and if they have a good hand, so be it, or they might exchange a tile to make a better hand. Once the players have decided on what hands to play, it's not uncommon for the tiles to just remain exposed while the dealer sets his hand. He removes the stack of chips from his tiles and sets them according to the house way, and the hands are settled. If there's a push, obviously nothing happens. If the players win, they receive their winnings minus commission, and if they lose, only then do they actually have to produce the chips to pay the house.

As you can see, when there are multiple players at the table, banking becomes a very social, collective, and superstitious affair.
Ayecarumba
Ayecarumba
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October 17th, 2017 at 1:45:08 PM permalink
Interesting read! What if there is a dispute regarding how the banker set the hand? Are there rules covering who gets the final say? Can a hand be set "fouled" when co-banking?
America is all about speed. Hot, nasty, bad-ass speed. - Eleanor Roosevelt, 1936
TigerWu
TigerWu
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Thanks for this post from:
Ayecarumba
October 17th, 2017 at 1:53:21 PM permalink
Quote: Ayecarumba

Interesting read! What if there is a dispute regarding how the banker set the hand? Are there rules covering who gets the final say? Can a hand be set "fouled" when co-banking?



As far as I know, the person who initially requested the bank has the final say. After all, no one else is required to be in the hand in the first place. They are given the option to either play or sit out before the tiles are even dealt. The tiles are shared among players purely for etiquette reasons. Also, you are not even required to co-bank. You can actually bet against a player who is banking, although this seems to be exceptionally rare in Vegas. In fact, I've only seen it happen twice. One time I was banking and the other player was just being an a-hole in general and bet against me, and another time I actually did it to another banker by accident. Players will either co-bank together against the casino, or sit out the hand altogether.
Wizard
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October 17th, 2017 at 1:59:33 PM permalink
Quote: gamerfreak

Has there been any successful Pai Gow Tile sidebets?



There are a couple listed on WoO but as far as I know they each have only one placement. One of them is at the Palace Station and I never see anyone betting it.
It's not whether you win or lose; it's whether or not you had a good bet.
TigerWu
TigerWu
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October 17th, 2017 at 2:19:38 PM permalink
A few more notes on superstitions/nuances in Pai Gow Tiles:

If a new player or new dealer comes to the table, an Asian player may reduce his bet to the absolute minimum. For example, a player may be betting $75-$100 each on two spots, but when a new player sits down, he may limit his bet to $25 on one spot. It is also very common for players to switch spots they are betting on in between hands, if one spot is considered "unlucky." A player may even go so far as to put the "Reserved" tile on an unlucky spot. Incidentally, there is always one spot at a Tile table that is not allowed to be played. It doesn't matter which; it can be decided by any player. This is done so that even at a full table, there are always four tiles (in addition to the dealer's four) that will be completely unknown to anyone to prevent any kind of serious collusion.

As I've previously mentioned, many Asian players will only bank after the dealer has had a big or lucky win. This is done in order to "break up the dealer's luck." If YOU are winning, then you don't want to "break up" your OWN luck by banking. Some Asian players don't care about this, though, and they won't get upset if you bank at a random time. I usually ask, though, just to be polite.

It also happens that after a hand has been played, a player or players may ask for the dealer to expose the tiles from a hand that has not been played. For example, if the 5 spot was a dead hand, a player may ask to see what those tiles were after the hand has been played and all bets settled. In fact, this is a perfectly legal request (I assume depending on the casino; you can do it at Harrah's), and as such is not superstition in itself, but if the exposed dead hand is deemed to be a "monster" hand, the player may switch spots and begin betting on that one. If a spot is considered to be ESPECIALLY lucky, more than one player may have a bet on it at any one time. I'm not sure what the house rules and limits on this are; I've seen 3-4 different players bet on one spot, in addition to betting on their own spot.

Although technically "illegal" (I think), it is not uncommon to ask another player for advice on setting your own hand, especially if you can see they are clearly a more experienced player. I've done this on more than one occasion, and neither the dealer nor the floor people cared. I guess don't do this on every single hand, and you should be fine. In fact, I have actually had players lean over my shoulder unsolicited to look at my hand and suggest what to play.

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