The One and Only Way to Beat Pai Gow Poker

How to win Pai Gow Poker with a real edge over the competition.

How to Win Pai Gow PokerI’ve never been a huge fan of Pai Gow Poker. Like most card games (outside blackjack), its house edge is too high. And since I do the majority of my gambling online, there’s no way to reduce the 2.6% house edge. However, if you attend a land-based casino, there is one, and only one, way to beat Pai Gow Poker.

No, I’m not talking about getting lucky. Luck isn’t a strategy. It’s not consistent. You can’t count on luck. And no, I’m not talking about cheating, either. You’d never get away with that if you tried. I’m talking about a real Pai Gow Poker strategy that can give you an palpable advantage over the competition.

How to Win Pai Gow Poker – Be the Banker

As I said, you can’t do this at an online casino. But in most real, bricks-and-mortar gambling halls, players can actually request to be the banker. A lot of less experienced player don’t know this, but it’s true. You have every right to request the banker position!

As we all know, the house always has an edge. In Pai Gow Poker, the dealer gets an edge in several ways. Obviously, they use house rules to set their hands. Any player can do this, but it won’t give them the same edge due to two overriding factors.

First, the house wins on every exact-tie hand. Exact ties (ex. player and banker have A-J in the two card hand) occur in 2.6% of all hands. In about half of those hands, the player will lose the other hand, resulting in a total loss. In the other half, the players wins the other hand, resulting in a push. This alone gives a 1.3% advantage to the banker.

Secondly, the house collects a 5% commission on all winning player hands. This results in an additional 1.3% advantage. You can be the banker, but that doesn’t mean you’re the house. Therefore you won’t collect that commission as the banker. The casino still gets it. So, as the banker, you’ll get a 1.3% edge over the players.

Note that in EZ Pai Gow, there is no commission, which still leaves the banker with a 1.3% edge. However, you cannot be the banker in EZ Pai Gow.

Challenges of Being the Pai Gow Poker Banker

To use this strategy, you’ll need to know a few things. First and foremost, you must know the house rules of the casino inside and out. You have to know exactly how to set your hand, based on their house rules. The dealer can help you, but if you don’t know what you’re doing, you’re going to have some very unhappy players around you. Not a good idea!

Next, make sure you have a large bankroll. You can’t be the banker if you don’t have enough funds to cover all bets for many hands. As I said above, you can’t count on luck. But, lucky streaks, and unlucky ones, do happen. If you have a bad run, being the banker can become very expensive, very fast. Be prepared!

Last but not least, you can’t be the banker all of the time. You’re going to have to take a player position more often than not. When doing so, keep your bets small and incorporate the same house-way strategy to minimize losses.

House Way vs. Average Player Way

House way rules are based on ensuring that the casino wins at least one hand. In this way, they cannot lose. Most players, however, will do their best to win both hands. For example, if dealt four Aces and three other low cards non-sequence, such as 2, 4, 5, what would you do?

Most players would put three Aces in the 5-card hand, and A-5 in the 2-card hand. This would have the highest odds of winning both, right? The house doesn’t think this way.

The house will put A-A-5-4-2 in the 5-card hand, and A-A in the other. This guarantees that they can’t be beaten. The 2-card hand will win (there are no more Aces to tie). The 5-card hand might lose, or it might not. But end result – the banker cannot lose.

At worst, the banker will push against all players, losing nothing. At best, the banker will have a better 5-card hand than one or more players, winning those bets and pushing against the rest. So if you really want to know how to win Pai Gow Poker, it’s simple. Play like the banker when you must, and be the banker as often as you can!

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