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FinsRule
FinsRule
Joined: Dec 23, 2009
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March 28th, 2011 at 12:26:20 PM permalink
So, I've spent most of this afternoon trying to learn Pai Gow tiles.

I definitely understand the general concept. What I'm struggling with is the strategy.

If I can set a hand at 6,7 or 5,8 I'm supposed to do 6,7 to get the better low hand. But if it's something like 9,0 or 7,2 I want to do the better high hand. I understand this concept too, but I'm having a tough time remembering the cutoff.

Does anyone have general advice to learning the basic strategy part of this game? Also, if I'm screwing up things like doing 5,8 instead of 6,7, will I get killed playing this game, or is it a pretty minor error?

Thanks for the help guys.
PapaChubby
PapaChubby
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March 28th, 2011 at 1:11:53 PM permalink
I could tell you how I play these hands, but it probably wouldn't match the JB/wizard strategy. I know those guys answered your exact question in another thread not too long ago.

In terms of general advice, I'd say "don't worry about it too much". You clearly understand the concept. The average hand is a 5/9, so your hands should be balanced or unbalanced relative to this average to provide the best chance to win (good hand) or tie (bad hand). This makes the decision of 0/9 over 2/7 pretty obvious. For the cases you mention which are borderline either way, the impact of a wrong decision is usually fairly minor.

You can use the wizard's calculator to evaluate particular cases. For the case you mention, I created a hand of H6/L8/9/L10. The calculator says the return for 6/7 is -23.7%, and 5/8 is -25.3%. I'd estimate you need to make a decision similar to this about once every 5 or 6 hands, so the total impact on house edge is about 0.2%. You want to figure it out in the long run, but you're not going to get "killed" if you do it wrong a few times while you're learning.
PapaChubby
PapaChubby
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March 28th, 2011 at 1:14:23 PM permalink
One other thing. Normally these dilemmas occur when your hand isn't very good, and you're mostly trying to salvage a tie. The house way frequently maximizes the low hand on these type of hands. So your best chance to tie is by maximizing your high hand. This is where the basic strategy frequently differs from the house way.
DJTeddyBear
DJTeddyBear
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March 28th, 2011 at 1:15:57 PM permalink
As Papa said, don't worry about it much.

Yeah, it gives the house a little more edge, but, particularly when you're still learning the game, it's not enough to get nuts about.

If you do 5,8 instead of 6,7 - look at the results. You probably would have gotten the same result regardless.


Far more important is to recognize those Wongs, Gongs, and unmatched pairs. Miss those and you're giving up a lot!
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FinsRule
FinsRule
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March 28th, 2011 at 2:06:30 PM permalink
The other issue I'm having is when I have a hand where either way I play it, I have a 9 / Gong. But one way is right, one way is wrong. I'm sure the issue has to do with ranking, and which way is better to have a higher hand in case of a tie, but how am I ever going to remember which one I want where?

I don't like playing games unless I have a pretty good idea of perfect strategy. That's why this Pai Gow Tiles thing is so frustrating for me. But I'm kinda enjoying it....
PapaChubby
PapaChubby
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March 28th, 2011 at 2:50:24 PM permalink
This is probably a matter of arranging high and low tiles. It's the last thing about the game that I learned. Say you have 12, 11, high 8 and low 8. The two highest tiles are the 12 and the high 8. If you play them together, the high 8 has no value (only the highest tile in the hand counts toward its "tiebreaker" value). In this case, the 11 is the strongest tile in the 9 hand. If you play the 12 with the low 8, now the high 8 makes the 9 a bit stronger. You gain a little bit in the 9 without affecting the value of the gong.

I'd estimate you only have to make a judgement like this once every 20 or 30 hands, and the effect on the outcome is pretty small. It only matters if the dealer's low hand is a 9 with a high tile in between the 11 and the high 8. The wizard's calculator says the difference is about 3%.
Wizard
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Wizard
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March 28th, 2011 at 3:11:05 PM permalink
Here is a very simple strategy.

1. Try to get the low hand as high as possible. If it is 5 to 8, play that.
2. If you can't go the low to 5, maximize the high if you can get it up to 7. If you can't do that, then go back to maximizing the low.
3. If you can get the low higher than 8, then maximize the high.
It's not whether you win or lose; it's whether or not you had a good bet.
teddys
teddys
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March 28th, 2011 at 4:18:16 PM permalink
Don't bother with learning the individual tile rankings if you have two ways to set the same numerical-value hand. Too confusing, and doesn't add much to the return. Learn the basics first, like pairs. Beware, though, those unmatched pairs are easy to miss! (And even when you catch them, like I did, playing them together might not even be the best play! (still kicking myself for that one))
"Dice, verily, are armed with goads and driving-hooks, deceiving and tormenting, causing grievous woe." -Rig Veda 10.34.4
mkl654321
mkl654321
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March 28th, 2011 at 5:11:09 PM permalink
Though this is not a universal rule, House Way tends to maximize the low hand at the expense of the high hand UNLESS the highest possible low hand is a low 3 or worse, in which case the low hand is sacrificed to make the high hand as high as possible, to try to salvage a tie. For example, 12, low 9, low 6, low 4 would be played as 0-Wong, but 12, low 9, low 6, high 4 would be played as 3-8 (I'm not even certain of this example, but I just wanted to illustrate the decision point).
The fact that a believer is happier than a skeptic is no more to the point than the fact that a drunken man is happier than a sober one. The happiness of credulity is a cheap and dangerous quality.---George Bernard Shaw
appistappis
appistappis
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March 28th, 2011 at 6:31:40 PM permalink
mkl654321, in the example above both hands are zero wong, the house way

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