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Pai Gow For Retirees, Blackjack and the Legality of Counting Cards

Can you answer a question about Pai Gow Poker? Can it be beaten if you're the dealer some, or most, of the time? What if you bet minimum when house or other player deals and bank the rest of the time? Thanks for a great site!


Dear Jeff,

Yes, you can gain an advantage in Pai Gow poker by acting as the banker as much as possible, while betting the minimum when another is banking. In Las Vegas, where the house takes a 5% rake on the winning bets, an edge of about .3% is possible, but that can be larger if you're playing against unskilled bettors. In California, where the house charges a $1 per hand or so, the edge a banker has is about 1.25%, minus the 'rake'. An excellent book on the topic is "Optimal Strategy for Pai Gow Poker" by Stanford Wong.

I have been receiving your email for information regarding your website so I starting browsing through some of your articles. I was interested in the article about the best way to win at blackjack. The problem is that I don't know the basis behind card counting and what you meant by when the deck is "positive". I was wondering if you could send me information regarding card counting for blackjack or refer me to a site where I could read more about it. You also mentioned to send info regarding the team to help us in money management. Since I'm sure that card counting isn't something I'll pick up overnight this may be premature, but I will send you this info anyway. Thank you for your time and I look forward to your response!

Regarding a 'positive' deck at Blackjack, this is determined by 'counting' the cards and when there are a higher proportion of 10s and Aces remaining than 'small' cards (2-6), the deck is considered favorable for the player. A complete explanation can be found at my web site on the Blackjack Page. Team play is a very effective way to approach the game, IF all the team members are counters and they can combine their $$$. You'll need a minimum of $6000 for this approach and you need to learn counting, first. Why not get your group together and start on my lessons?

Do you know if card counting is "illegal" in Mississippi or will they politely ask you to play any other game but blackjack?

Card counting is not illegal in any jurisdiction of the U. S, but some casinos may ask skilled players to not indulge in Blackjack. The 'trick' is to disguise your skills, as I teach in my lesson "Casino Playing Tactics" which can be found on the Blackjack Page of my site.

Hot Tip: You should always take advantage of free odds at craps. If you're a $10 bettor, you can put $10 on the pass line with no odds and buck a 1.4% house edge, or you can put $5 on the pass line, $5 as an odds bet and lower the house 'vig' to .85%. Same amount bet, lower risk.

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