Casino Betting Tips


It’s possible for a blackjack player to gain the long-term advantage over the casino. This means you will win more money than lose over time. To do so, you must bet more when the odds of winning a hand are in your favor and less when the odds shift to the dealer. In order to know when the odds shift from dealer to player you must keep track of the cards as they are played. This technique, known as card counting, does not require a photographic memory (that’s a misconception). < top > First off, you must understand that the probability of winning a hand in blackjack is very dependent upon the mix of cards remaining to be played. If this mix happens to contain an abundance of large cards like 10’s, picture cards and aces, then your chances of winning improve. On the other hand, if the mix of unplayed cards contain an abundance of small cards like 2 though 6’s, then the odds shift in favor of the dealer.

Here are some of the reasons why large cards favor the player and small cards the dealer. When you have a mix of unplayed cards that contain an abundance of large cards there will be more blackjacks dealt. Yes the dealer has just as much chance of getting a blackjack as a player but the player gets paid a bonus on a blackjack hand (3 to 2 payoff). Also, when the dealer has a stiff hand (like 12 to 16) he must draw. If the deck is rich in large cards, the dealer will most likely bust. Unlike the dealer, the player does not have to draw on a stiff hand.from a deck rich in large cards. Also players will profit more when doubling down in a mix rich in large cards. Likewise if a player has a pair, he can split the pair into two hands, a sometimes lucrative play when the dealer shows a weak face card. The dealer on the other hand will usually make good when he holds a stiff hand and draws from a mix of cards containing an abundance of small cards.

How does a player know when the unplayed cards are either rich in large or small cards? You must keep track of the cards as they are played because with this information you can deduce whether the unplayed cards are rich in small or large cards.

In order to keep track of the cards you must assign a tag to each card for card counting purposes. The dealer favorable small cards – 2, 3, 4, 5, 6 – have a tag of +1 (plus one). The player favorable large cards – 10, J, Q, K Ace- have a tag of -1 (minus one). The remaining cards – 7, 8, 9 – have a tag of 0.

Card counting is simply adding of the tags for each card that is played. For example after the shuffle, your starting count is 0 (this indicates an equal number of large and small cards). As the first round of play begins and cards are faced, you must add the tags of each card. If player #1 shows a 4 and 6 your count is +2 (sum of +1 tag for the 4 and +1 tag for the 6). Continue to add the card tags for every card that you see. If it’s a small card you increase you count by 1. If it’s a large card you decrease your count by 1. At the end of the first round your count will be either a plus or negative number. If your count is positive it means that there were a lot more small cards than large cards played in the previous round. That means the reverse must be true for the unplayed cards – namely the unplayed cards contain a slight excess of large cards over small cards. This is precisely the point at which the edge swings to the player on the next hand and therefore the player should make a larger bet. Likewise when the count is negative, the edge is with the dealer and the player should bet the minimum.

To learn how to count, get a deck of cards, shuffle them, and then turn one card over and recite the tag for that card. For example if your first card is a 6, recite “plus 1”. If the next card is a queen recite “minus 1”. Continue to do this for the entire deck of cards to help you associate the tag for each card.

Next take the same deck of cards and flip the cards over one-at-time and keep the running count. For example if the first card is 5, you count is “plus 1”. If the next card is a 3, your running count is “plus 2”. Assume the next card is a 7. Your running count is still “plus 2”. Continue to flip each card and add the tags. When you are finished counting a deck of cards your running count should be 0 (this is how you can check the accuracy of your counting).

Now you are ready to cancel the tags of a group of cards to make counting even easier. Instead of flipping over one card at a time, flip 2 or 3 cards at one time. Glance at the cards and cancel every high card and low card. When you learn this technique you won’t have to count every single card that you see on the layout.

Keep practicing card counting with your deck of cards until you can count down a deck accurately in 30 seconds or less.

Blackjack is the most popular casino table game. When played properly it has a house edge of less than one percent, which is the lowest house advantage of any table game. The casinos set the edge at two percent for assigning comps but I have seen documents showing the house sometimes has a hold (profit) of more than ten percent in some cases. How can that be?

The reason is that the game is not played properly by many players. A player can give up a huge advantage to the house by playing hunches. Unlike craps and roulette, in blackjack the decisions you make at the table have an effect on the house edge. In roulette the house edge is 5.26%. There are 38 numbers on the wheel and each spin is an independent event. In craps there are only 36 combinations of the dice. This never changes thus each roll of the dice is an independent event as well.

Blackjack however is a game based on dependent events. This means that as each card is dealt the make up of the cards remaining in the deck changes. Big cards left in the deck favor the player and small cards favor the dealer. The advantage shifts back and forth from player to dealer. This is the basis behind card counting. A card counter will bet more when he has the advantage and less when it favors the dealer. The subject of card counting will be left for another time. You don’t have to learn card counting to bring the house edge down less than one percent.

Because blackjack has a fixed set of rules which must be followed by the dealer a mathematically correct strategy can be derived insure optimum play. This known as basic strategy and was refined by Julian Braun who worked for IBM and ran millions of hands through a main frame computer decades ago before the advent of the personal computer. Utilizing basic strategy a player will decide how to play his hand depending on the dealer exposed (up) card. A player will stand, hit, double or split his cards to give him the best chance of winning the hand.

The object of blackjack is to beat the dealer not to try to get close to twenty-one. Because the player must act first it is sometimes the player’s advantage to stand on a hand that has the potential going over 21 when the dealer also has card that can bust him. If the player and the dealer both bust the player loses the hand. That is why it is important that the player learn to play his hand correctly to insure the best outcome based on the mathematically correct strategy.

Blackjack is a great game with a low house advantage that is fun to play. It is not difficult to learn to play correctly. Many casinos will even let you use a basic strategy chart at the table for reference but with a little effort on your part you will soon be able to make the correct decisions without one.


I tried playing craps for the first time on a recent trip to Las Vegas. I stuck with the bets you mention on your tapes and actually walked away from the crap table $200 ahead. And though I was up $200, I still found the game intimidating. Mostly because I couldn’t understand what numbers the dealer was calling. No wonder it scares so many players away. So just what number is “Little Joe from Kokomo?” Ralph S.

Your question, Ralph, is the reason why more than 90 percent who visit casinos deny themselves playing what many consider the most engaging, exhilarating game the casino has to offer. Not only that, if craps is played correctly, the percentage favoring the house is less than video poker, slots, roulette and even blackjack; that is, Ralph, if players like you follow the fundamental principles I’ve laid out on my audio tapes and stick to pass line bets with odds or placing the six and eight.

But still, when the game gets electric, the communal consciousness of the players leads to a table of whooping, rooting and apprehensive participants. This creates a game that both confuses and overwhelms.

Now add your complaint: A dealer (stickman) with a rattan rake in hand moving the game pace along at high speeds, yelling calls that only someone in the industry might understand. Your best bet is to learn the lingo. By no means, Ralph, is the language eloquent, but it is expressive and the best way to learn is by putting the dice in your hands. So shooter, you’re coming out, hands up, feet off the table, let’em loose and I’ll make the calls.

TWO: “Craps,” “two aces,” “rats eyes,” “snake eyes,” “push the don’t,” “eleven in a shoe store,” “twice in the rice,” “two craps two, two bad boys from Illinois.”

THREE: “Craps,” “ace-deuce,” “ace caught a deuce,” “winner on the dark side,” “three craps three, the indicator,” “small ace deuce, can’t produce,” “the other side of eleven’s tummy.” (Here’s an example of an old-time crap dealer, Judd, who invents a call that made its way across Nevada to a carpet joint that I’ve worked in. It doesn’t make sense, like many of the calls, so your confusion is fitting.)

FOUR: “Little Joe,” “little Joe from Kokomo,” “hit us in the tu tu,” “ace trey, the country way.”

FIVE: “After five, the field’s alive,” “thirty-two juice roll” (OJ’s jersey number), “little Phoebe,” “fiver, fiver, racetrack driver,” “we got the fever.”

SIX: “Big Red, catch’em in the corner,” “like a blue chip stock,” “pair-o-treys, waiter’s roll,” “the national average,” “sixie from Dixie.”

SEVEN: “Seven out, line away,” “grab the money,” “five two, you’re all through,” “six ace, end of the race,” “front line winner, back line skinner,” “six one, you’re all done,” “seven’s a bruiser, the front line’s a loser,” “up pops the devil,” “Benny Blue, you’re all through.”

EIGHT: “A square pair, like mom and dad,” “Ozzie and Harriet,” “the windows,” “eighter from Decatur.”

NINE: “Center field,” “center of the garden,” “ocean liner niner,” “Nina from Pasadena,” “What shot Jesse James? A forty-five.”

TEN: “Puppy paws,” “pair-a-roses,” “pair of sunflowers,” “the big one on the end.”

ELEVEN: “Yo leven,” “yo levine the dancing queen,” “six five, no jive.”

TWELVE: “Craps,” “boxcars,” “atomic craps,” “all the spots we got,” “outstanding in your field,” “triple dipple, in the lucky ducky,” “double saw on boxcars.”

Look there, Ralph, you just rolled a seven. Column’s over. Cinco dos, adios.

I want to remind everyone that no matter what method of play or “System” you try; you cannot change the house advantage. These are fixed number based on the dice probabilities. Some money management strategies and methods of play will help you reduce your overall exposure to the house edge. Last week Larry Edell wrote about Hedging Your Bet to squeak out small wins during a playing session. This week I will introduce you to another method that will help you reduce your exposure to the house edge enabling while spending more time at the table. It is called the 5-Count.

In his book, Beat the Craps Out of the Casinos, Author Frank Scoblete writes about the 5 Count system of play taught to him by his friend “The Captain.” I asked Frank to explain the system for this article:

“If you incorporate the Captain’s 5-Count as a part of your betting strategy, you will reduce the total number of shooters you are betting on and increase the likelihood that over the course of your session you will be on the hot shooter(s) — if a hot shooter actually appears. Although all the nuances of the 5-Count method of play are contained in my books and tapes here in a nutshell is a mini-lesson in its use.

The 5-Count, the Captain’s method for finding hot shooters and reducing a player’s overall risk at the craps table, starts with a point number (the “point numbers” are 4, 5, 6, 8, 9, or 10) and ends with a point number. Let’s take it step by step.

The shooter has just received the dice and is on his come-out roll. If he rolls any of the point numbers above on his come-out roll, that constitutes the 1-count. If he rolls a 2, 3, 7, 11, or 12 on the come-out, the count has not started yet. The second roll after the 1-count is automatically the 2-count, regardless of what number is rolled, and this applies to the 3-count and 4-count as well. The next roll after the 4-count is the 5-Count only if the number rolled is again one of the point numbers above. If not, it is the 4-count and holding until the 5-Count is achieved. When the 5-Count is achieved, you then begin to place money at risk. The 5-Count is a major component of the Captain’s systems such as the Classical and Radical Supersystems, the high-roller system, and the low-roller system. For a detailed explanation of how and why the 5-Count works and how to play it successfully in a casino, I refer you to my books and tapes.”

During Easter weekend, I had the chance to join Frank at the craps table at Binions in downtown Las Vegas. I have used the 5-count system in the past and decided that this session I would play it exactly like Frank describes.

We settled in to a five-dollar table and started to play. I rolled first and made one number before the dreaded seven hit. Frank did not have much better results. The table was fairly cold. By the time the dice got back to me I took a quick survey of my chips in the rack I was only down about $50. I would have been down a lot more had I not been using the 5-count. I took the dice for my second turn. I made my first point and hit a couple numbers before sevening out .No gain no loss: I was even for my roll.

Frank took his second turn with the dice and proceeded to have an epic roll. He held the dice for over 40 minutes. You can read the full details of his roll in an upcoming Casino Player article. This is the type of hot shooter you are looking for with the 5-count. I came out with a nice win for the session.

Not all sessions will have hot shooters. I have had experiences where as soon as the 5-count was established I placed a number or made a come bet and the shooter sevened out on his next roll. However, I did find that when using the system I was spending more time at the table receiving COMP credit while actually risking less of my money by NOT betting on every shooter. When that hot shooter did come along I had money left to take advantage of the roll.Why not give the 5-Count a try next time you visit the tables.

If you are a regular Crapshooter, you might want to enter a craps tournament soon. Some of these contests are free to enter, some cost a few hundred dollars, and a few cost quite a bit more, depending on the prize money. Several casinos also have weekly craps tournaments with no entry fee and a low $50 buy-in, just to bring people in the door.

Some contests require expensive entry fees ($500 or more) and high buy-ins ($1000). But for that $500 you usually will get a hotel room for two nights, all meals, a cocktail party, and a nice gift. And, depending on how many people enter, the grand prize could be as much as $50,000.00! In tournaments like this, the top two players from each round will advance to the next one, and there might be as many as ten prize winners at the end of the tournament.

When you’re playing in a tournament, you will make different bets than you would in a normal craps game. You are no longer playing against the house, but against all of your fellow contestants. Your goal is to have the most money at the end of a certain number of rolls (usually 100) or a certain amount of time (usually one hour). This means you need to keep an eagle eye on the chips in the racks of your fellow players, and be aware of their bets. If everyone happens to lose money, then the person with the least loss wins the tournament.

Sometimes, when a lot of people are competing, you’ll be playing in “rounds”, which are like mini-tournaments. If you win the first round, then you advance to the next one. Before you play, familiarize yourself with the rules, because they are different for every tournament and sometimes are different for each round. For example, some casinos will require you to have a pass or don’t-pass bet on every play, in addition to any other bets you might make. Others might not allow proposition bets over $25. And still others might mandate that your chips are in full view and not covered up, so everyone can see what you’ve won or lost.

Another important thing to understand is whether you can add money to your play. This (and other aspects of unusual rules) will be explained to you in an orientation meeting before the tournament, so pay attention. And, remember, each tournament is different! The smaller ones will let you play with your own money, the way you normally do. You simply purchase chips from the dealer. But once the prize money gets over $50, the field must be leveled so everyone must buy in beforehand (usually with $500), and you can not add more money to your play later. When you hit zero, you are through, and you must leave the table.

Although the basic rules of craps is the same, the strategy is different. You HAVE to look out for your fellow players and always pay attention to what they are doing! If, for example, if you have won $300 and your closest competitor has won $200, and he bets $90 on the six and eight, what will happen if a six or eight rolls? He’ll jump ahead by $5 (enough to win) so you might want to watch him and match his bets exactly to stay even. Or what if you’re in second place with $200 and the number one player has $300? You’ve placed the six and eight for $90 each, and he matched you. Maybe you might bet hard ways, or place the five and nine. You must do something different in order to overtake the front-runner. Some people who are close to last place resort to bets not normally made – like betting the maximum on the two or twelve. In the last few rolls of the game, they realize it’s the only way they can win.

When you begin play, you’ll see that there are conservative players, playing pass or come with maximum odds, and aggressive players who bet hard ways and proposition bets. If these aggressive players continue, they’ll usually (but not always) lose their money before the final round. If you’re in the group playing pass/come, you need some way of breaking out of the pack – like waiting for two consecutive points to be made and then jumping to the don’t. You have to start doing something the other players are not doing in order to win. Let’s say the leader has $100 on the pass line and the point is 4. He takes $200 odds. You could then lay the 4 for $200. If a seven rolls, you’ve suddenly managed to put yourself $400 ahead, as he would have lost $300 and you won $100. You’ve got to try things, be inventive, and make bets that the other players wouldn’t think of making.

In the last few rolls of the game, you must become super aggressive, especially if you are not in first place. Sometimes this means betting all of your bankroll on one number. Say eight is the point and the leader is $300 ahead and has $100 on the pass line with double odds. You’re in third place, and all you have left is $300. You might place the whole $300 on the six, take it down after it hits once, and then pray that a seven rolls before the eight does!

Tournaments are not for everyone, but they’re fun to play, especially the inexpensive or free ones. Give them a try – you’re sure to learn a lot and maybe even make some friends – and some money as well!


There are more gambling systems devised to beat the roulette wheel than any other game.

A system may give you an edge, but don’t expect to systematically play your way to riches off the casinos. For one thing, everything considered, it is a very difficult task. For another thing, it’s unlikely that the casinos will sit back and do nothing about it.

Simply aiming to win to stay ahead at all times as a primary objective, even by a small margin, is a more realistic goal and a great achievement.

In a game of chance using a system is no guarantee of winning, but a well devised roulette system can streamline your losses, control your winnings and have a strategy that will give you an opportunity to be a winner.

Roulette systems that have a strategy to win most of the time but lose out overall, are not winning systems. A winning system is one with a strategy to make you win overall and keep you ahead at all times.

Tip: For an efficient betting strategy aim to win more money in fewer winning spins.
It has been shown time and again that roulette systems that rely on sequential or conditional probability have failed to produce consistent successful results. That is because practically roulette is not a game of probability.

At roulette each spin is a new spin and the outcome is never determined by prior spins. Therefore the probability for a possible outcome is the same for each spin and a probability advantage cannot be generated.

For example: Which outcome has a higher probability after eight successive Blacks, Black again or Red?

The probable answer is Red.

Wrong! After eight successive Blacks, a Black is as likely to come up as a Red. The roulette wheel has no memory and it does not keep record of previous results. This is what many gamblers find hard to believe. This misconception has been around for many years and will probably be around for as many more years. It is known as the gambler’s fallacy.

Tip: If you are influenced by previous results, then learn to bet with the outcome and not against it. You will eventually realize that it makes no difference. If anything, the ‘law of unequal distribution’ will be on your side. In theory, roulette may be looked at as a game of probability and that the casino advantage of 5.26% with a double zero wheel (2.7% with a single zero wheel) makes the player a definite loser. In practice, as far as the player is concerned, roulette is a game of luck and the player has a chance to win.

If you were to bet $5 on Black for 38 spins on a double zero wheel, in theory you would win and lose every other spin and after 38 spins (which is about an hour of play at a busy roulette table) you would lose $10 for twice the zero outcome.

In practice, during an hour of play, at some stage, if you were lucky you would be up and if you were unlucky you would be down by more than $10, and deciding when to quit will determine the amount of your winnings or losses.

Consider this:
If there was no casino advantage and you were paid 37 to 1 (36 to 1 for a single zero wheel) instead of 35 to 1 on numbers and didn’t lose on the outside bets when the outcome was zero, during the past several times that you have played the roulette, would you now be even with your money? Chances are it would not make much difference. You would still be either winning or losing and by much more than 5.26%.

The reason is that at roulette by far the two major factors that determine how much you win or lose are:

Your luck on the day and
Deciding when is the best time to quit.
Therefore, for a roulette system to have a degree of success it has to be linked to luck and tell you exactly when to quit.

Tip: On a very bad day, no sum of wagering money or degree of skill will make you a winner. Don’t persist. Cut your losses early.

Big tip: Don’t challenge the mathematical advantage of the casino. You cannot eliminate or change it and you don’t need to. It is not your adversary unless you choose to make it that way and you will lose – slowly but surely. It is relatively small considering the sums of money that can be won or lost in a very short space of time. Think of it as a necessary and acceptable contribution or a tax towards paying the cost of the gaming equipment and salaries of the casino personnel. Remember, you pay it if and when you win only – (Sounds like income tax?).

Additionally, a good system has to take into account other obscured but important advantages for both, the casino and the player. These are:

To the casino:

The player’s natural greed for money
The player’s lack of self-discipline and
Time (the longer you play the higher the chances that you hit a streak of bad luck and run out of money).


Don’t be greedy; if you lose what you have just won, you are.

Don’t gamble more than your set limit.

Don’t stay beyond what you have set out to do.

To the player:

You can choose when and where to bet
You can choose and vary the amount of your bet and
You decide when to quit.


Play a few numbers preferably winning numbers, every spin.

Increase your bet when you win and not when you lose.

Quit while ahead and limit your losses.

Now, if you agree to all that has been said so far and give it some thought, you could well apply a roulette strategy yourself that is linked to luck. Additionally, if you are able to weaken the above said 3 casino advantages (not easy) and make good use of the player’s 3 advantages, chances are in the long run you will come out an overall winner.


Often sought though rarely found, a good baccarat strategy is usually considered a myth among gamblers. I happen to disagree. What I DO agree with is the fact that any strategy that promotes itself as a system is most likely full of false, misleading, and useless information. There are, however, many basic baccarat strategy moves one can make to up their chances of winning.

A predominant aspect of the baccarat games played at the local casino is the scorecard. It looks like everyone at the table is keeping track of the outcome on each hand, and that’s exactly what they’re doing. These people are trying to spot patterns and then change their own betting patterns in order to take advantage of a streak. The casinos encourage this behavior simply because they know it has no bearing on the outcome of the game. Chasing patterns in baccarat is as pointless as it is in roulette. One hand has no bearing on the next, and is never influenced by the preceding hands. This is a simple trap that gamblers all around the world fall into at one time or another. If you were betting on the flip of a coin, and it landed heads up 9 times in a row, part of your brain will inevitably yell out to you that a tails is imminent, and it’s likely that the 10th flip will land tails up. This reasoning is spurious; the chance of the coin landing tails up on the 10th flip is exactly 50%, just as it was the first nine times. Any baccarat strategy that makes you change your bets based on previous hands is useless and should be completely disregarded.

So, although you will see almost everyone around you at the baccarat table marking down numbers on casino provided cards, you should consider it personal entertainment and think nothing more of it. Don’t be fooled into participating, it’s just another way for the casino to distract you from the important parts of the game-play. Seriously, would Las Vegas casinos provide baccarat players with a pencil and a chart if they were really worth anything?

Video Poker

There are more powerful strategies for those who really get into Video Poker, but this simple strategy will be of great help to most beginners.

The best hands are at the top and the worst hands at the bottom.

Always keep these pat hands: Royal Flush , Straight Flush, Four of a Kind or a Full House

Four Card Royal Flush – draw one card

Flush or Straight – You hold this except to draw 1 card to a 4 card royal

Four Card Straight Flush – inside or outside – draw 1 card

Three of a Kind – draw two cards

Two Pair – draw 1 card

Pair of Jacks, Queens, Kings or Aces – draw 3 cards

Four cards to a Flush – draw 1 card

Three Card Royal Flush – draw 2 cards

Pair (2’s to 10’s) – draw 3 cards

NEVER keep a ‘kicker’

Four Card Straight (outside straights only) – draw 1 card

NEVER draw to an inside straight

Three Card Straight Flush (inside or outside)- draw 2 cards

Two High Cards ( J,Q, K or A) – draw 3 cards

If you have 3 High cards, hold 2 of the same suit, or the 2 lowest if you don’t have 2 suited.

One High Card ( J,Q, K or A) – draw 4 cards

No high cards – Draw 5 new cards


Some friends asked me if there was any truth to these mail order systems that guarantee slot wins. I told them there was not and refereed them to the article I wrote about schemes and scams earlier this year. I advised them to learn video poker if they wanted a good chance at winning at the casino. They told me they wanted to go to the casino and play the slots but did not want to bother with the time to learn the proper strategy for video poker. They were only going a couple times a year and wanted a way to have fun but they also wanted their money to last a while. I suggested they play the one coin system.

Here is how the system works.

The first step is to find a two coin multiplier slot machine. In “How To Read A Slot Machine,” I explained that a multiplier slot machine has a pay out for a certain symbol and the number of coins played multiplies it. If the machine pays 5 coins for three lemons when you play one coin, it would pay 10 for the second coin played. This machine does not penalize you for not playing maximum coins.

A popular two coin multiplier is IGT’s “Double Diamond” machine. The top award is 800 coins for one coin played and 1,600 for 2 coins played. This machine also offers a doubling symbol that will double smaller wins. There are other two coin machines with similar payoffs. Take a look around the casino and find one that meets this criteria.

Now you have to decide how much you want to play for your session. For this example we will use $20 which is 2 rolls of quarters and totals 80 coins. You may want to start with one roll of quarters if want to risk less. Now start by playing one coin at a time from your rolls of quarters. You will continue playing one coin until you have a win.

When you have a win you will play 2 coins on your next spin. One coin is played from you starting bankroll and one coin from you winnings. If you win you continue to play two coins the same way. If you lose you will go back to playing only one coin from your starting rolls.

After you have played all 80 coins through the machine, you will count your winnings. If you have won more than the 80 you started with you will put the winnings aside. This is your win that you will take home with you. You now have 80 coins to play again in the same fashion.

If you wind up with less than 80 coins you may want to take a break and then find a new machine to play. You will use whatever coins you have from the first session and play them in the same way. Play one coin until you win and then one coin from your starting coins and one from your winnings. If any of your sessions end with no coins, you will quit. You will not touch any coins you have put aside from previous winning sessions. Go cash in your winnings. Take a walk or get something to eat or simply call it a day. If you decide to play another session later, you will start all over with a new bankroll.

This system does not guarantee you will be a winner. It will however help you stretch your playing time while risking less of your bankroll. If you only want to play slots for a little fun this might be the system for you.

Pai Gow Poker

Pai Gow Poker is one of the top ten best casino bets because of the low casino advantage. I suggest in my Casino Gambling Made Easier books and booklets that intelligent gambling means playing those games and strategies that have a casino advantage of less than 3%.

Basic rules follow and are offered for novice players seeking to add another casino game to their playbook.

Pai gow poker is an American derivative played with standard playing cards requiring that the player set two hands–a high and a second highest–trying to beat the banker’s two hands.

The cards in pai gow poker are ranked like standard poker hands; the exception being that one joker is found in the deck and can be played as an ace or the high card to finish a straight, flush, straight flush or royal flush. You must win both hands to win your bet and the house receives a commission on all winning hands. All players play against the banker, which could be the dealer, or a player putting up the required funds. Each player receives seven cards and must make two poker hands, the high hand made up of five cards and the low hand containing two cards. The highest five-card hand is five aces and the highest two-card hand is two aces based on poker rankings.

A Pai-Gow Poker table has six players’ seats and a dealer, similar to a blackjack table. The player’s high hand is displayed closest to the space in front of them, while the 2nd highest or low two-card hand is placed on top of the high hand towards the dealer. A chung or marker is set in front of the banker.

Rotation is counterclockwise, dealer shuffles and deals seven hands of seven cards face down, which equals 49 cards, therefore, 4 are left in the deck.

Receiver of the first hand is determined by a dice throw from a cup containing three dice. After all the players receive their seven cards face down, they must form two hands.

The most important rule to remember when playing is that the rank of the five-card high hand must be higher than the two-card low hand. Any player’s hand that is set incorrectly will automatically lose. Most casino dealers will assist in this placement; and dealer sets bank hand according to fixed house rules. Once all hands are set, the dealer will compare the player’s hand rank with banker’s hand for payouts. If one of your hands is higher in rank than the dealer’s and the other is lower, this is a tie (approximately 45% of the time) and your bet remains on the layout. If the banker bests both of your hands, then you lose your wager. If both hands are identical (copy), the banker also wins.

A win pays even money less a 5% commission paid immediately. Casinos have different rules as to how many times a player can act as banker. Normally, the dealer will ask each player in turn if they wish to be the banker and the same player cannot bank two consecutive hands. There is a player advantage if the casino allows you to be banker every second or third hand. In casinos, the banker must have sufficient chips to cover all the other players’ wagers. Some card rooms will offer co-bank at 50/50 with other players.