In hold’em, when you suspect an opponent might be bluffing, what’s the lowest hand with which you can call? In the big blind against a suspected blind steal, it may not be as much as you think.
In a $20-$40 hold’em game in Las Vegas recently, I was in the big blind. An extremely aggressive player sat two seats to my right. Everyone around the table folded to the aggressive player on the button, who made the expected raise to $40. The small blind folded. The next decision was up to me.
Much has been written about what it takes to call (or raise with) in this spot. When facing a suspected blind steal, it’s sometimes necessary to defend your blind, albeit selectively — or you’ll be identified as an easy target and get run over by aggressive players. Something told me the player raising my big blind didn’t really have much of a hand. In fact, the way that he thrust his chips forcefully into the pot convinced me that I wouldn’t need much of a hand to outplay him after the flop. I called.
The flop came rags, 8c 5h 3d. Although I didn’t have a pair, I considered tokyoslot88 betting-out and going for a steal. But I still wasn’t convinced that my opponent didn’t have a real hand. Before I could rap the table signaling my intent to check, the aggressive player reached quickly for his chips. From the way that he seemed to be so eager to bet, I was becoming increasingly more confident in what my first instinct had told me — that he was bluffing.
Then and there, I made a decision based purely on instinct. Barring unforeseen developments, I was going to play my hand all the way to the river. It appeared my opponent was aggressive enough to blast away at the pot all the way to the end in a desperate attempt to recover what he already had invested. If my assessment was correct, I didn’t want him going anywhere. Indeed, I wanted him to continue bluffing, with me hemming and hawing, playing the role of the hayseed tourist as though I was contemplating seriously whether or not to call his bet.
The turn paired the board. This presented some wonderful options for me. In standard game situations, when the board pairs, a bet or check-raise can be a very powerful play (even without three of a kind). However, I suspected my opponent was simply going to continue shoveling his money into the pot, which I would gratuitously accept — if my presumptions proved to be correct. He bet and I called.
The river was a blank.
I checked again, and sat completely still. I didn’t want to give my opponent any indication that I was fully prepared to call. Again, I wanted him to bet. Many players in this spot who are head-up against an opponent who is smooth-calling all the way to the river simply will check behind and reveal a hand. A bet, especially a forceful one coming from a very aggressive player, just screams, “I’m bluffing!” It’s the final act of desperation. The player bet and I called.
“I missed,” the player sadly announced as he turned up Q-10.
Suddenly, I felt like a proud peacock, swelling with pride. “King high,” I said, revealing K-9, which seemed to be a stunningly weak hand with which to be calling in a muscle game like $20-$40 hold’em. The other players at the table were in disbelief. The modest-sized pot was pushed to me. More important than the money won was the table image that I had established for the remainder of the session. The success of my bizarre play accomplished two things: First, the aggressive player on my right now would be neutralized and no longer would threaten to steal my blinds. Second, I had telegraphed mixed messages to the other players — that I was either a complete baffling idiot or a very solid player who shouldn’t be messed with, which — although contradictory — isn’t a bad image to have at any poker table.
Of course, my instincts just as easily could have been incorrect. Critics may even suggest that I was lucky. My decision to call down a pure bluff with K-9 would have been atrocious had I guessed wrong and the player shown me a real hand. Worse, he could have shown me a weak hand (such as a small pair or ace high), and I would have been forced to concede the pot and face embarrassment.
My blind defense raised interesting questions. Afterwards, I was eager to discover the long-term value (if any) of calling suspected steal attempts with relatively weak hands, based purely on mathematical principles. In other words, with how LOW a hand could I have called with in the previous scenario to ensure positive expectation? Could I have called my opponent down with any king high? What about a hand such as Q-J? Or, Q-2? What about J-10? As you are about to discover, hands that are playable in this spot (under the previous assumption, that the opponent is bluffing) may be surprising.
The following examples assume two things: (1) You are playing against a very aggressive opponent, and (2) The player must be capable of raising initially and running a bluff with any two cards. Otherwise, none of this applies. These conclusions do not apply when facing typical players, so-called “tourists,” or tight players. The recommendations apply only when playing against semi-sophisticated players and maniacs who are aggressive enough to consistently blast away at the pot. Since a fair number of middle-limit hold’em games around the country are comprised of players fitting this description precisely, the following recommendations are hardly inconsequential. In fact, calling down a suspected blind steal may be quite profitable if certain guidelines are examined carefully and selectively applied.
I consulted with J.P. Massar, who made the final table at the 1999 Tournament of Champions and has won and placed high in a number major events. Massar has as solid math credentials as any poker player I know. Massar noted that the calling requirements on the turn are stricter than those on the river (which is no surprise, since you will have to call two big bets to get a showdown). Therefore, Massar had to construct his examples in terms of calling on the turn, assuming a call on the river, instead of just in terms of a call on the river. Given the anecdote above, Massar reached some interesting conclusions:
The effective odds of calling a bet on the turn (assuming that my opponent will bet and I will call on the river 100 percent of the time) are $80 to win what’s in the pot now — which is $170, plus my opponent’s bet on the river of $40, or $210 total. The math says that one needs to win at least 28 percent of the time at the showdown to make a profit.
Suppose that the board on the turn is 8-5-3-5 (rainbow). Computer analysis shows that J-9 is enough of a hand to win at least 28 percent of the time!
Instead, suppose that the board on the turn is Q-8-7-3 (rainbow). Now, analysis shows that K-2 (that is, any king high) is good enough.
Suppose that my opponent is not a total maniac and will raise only initially with the best 70 percent of his hands instead of every single one. How does this affect the quality of hand that you need to make the call? In the 8-5-3-5 example, one needs a Q-7 (as opposed to J-9) to call him down. In the later Q-8-7-3 example, a K-9 (as opposed to any K) is good enough.
Note once again that these results are valid only when using the assumptions listed above. Furthermore, any particular board may present flush possibilities; the examples above use boards with no flushes possible on the river. If flushes are possible and you cannot make a flush, the quality of hand with which you need to call down will go up. Also, there are hands such as low straight draws with which it would be correct to call the turn but not the river if you miss.
Finally, I don’t claim that calling down with hands at least as good as the threshold hands given above is always the most profitable play, only that it is “profitable.” Betting or check-raising the turn or the river with some of the hands might turn out to be a better play than simply check-calling.
When it comes to giving or taking poker advice, every situation is unique. There is certainly no such thing as a situation in which it is 100 percent correct to make a “blind defense.” In most cases, when the bet is raised before the flop, it’s proper to give up the blind and wait for a better opportunity later, since you are placing money at risk and will be out of position throughout the hand.
But as you can see from my K-9 story, and probably from your own playing experience, you should be able to recognize the signs of a blind steal. It’s easy to run a bluff. It takes quite a bit more sophistication to call down a bluff and make the correct decision, based on good instincts combined with sound mathematical principles.
Many casino games can be traced to antiquity; still others are associated with specific historical moments in time and place. Today’s casino game of Keno is one such, with its roots in Chinese prehistory and history, as well as having a specific historical significance for Americans. In China, a game very similar to Keno has been played for several thousand years—by emperors, warlords, merchants and peasants—even communists have been known to try to make some capital from picking “the numbers” although such activities are frowned upon by the party bosses (known in Chinese as party poopers). The name of the Chinese game was/is Kino.
In the 1800’s, when the American west was being conquered and then connected to civilization, and the railroads were being built, cheap labor was imported from China, and with it was also imported the game of Kino. It was so popular with the Chinese laborers that soon enterprising Americans, seeing the incredible profits that could accrue from winning said laborers hard-earned pay, took over the game, changed its name to Keno, and set up “Keno parlors” throughout the west. Keno was known as the “Chinese Lottery,” and like any lottery it was a boon to its owners and a bane to its players. At one time just about every town in the west had its Keno parlor.
Still, for those of you who enjoy playing lotteries, or local charity chance books, or if numbers are your thing, the casino game of Keno might hold some interest for you. It is indeed the equivalent of a lottery but much faster! You don’t have to wait a few days for the results, just a few minutes. Of course, like the lottery, Keno comes in with very high edges for the house—25 percent, more or less, depending on the casino where the UFA game is being played and the type of wagers being pursued.
The players’ tickets are numbered one through eighty. You can choose to play between one and twenty numbers on a given ticket. The numbers to be played are “X’ed” out in crayon (back to childhood we go!). To win a multi-number bet, you often don’t have to select all the numbers, just some of them. Here are some of the most popular betting options at Keno:
Types of Bets at Keno
- Straight Ticket: A player can mark one, two, or more numbers on a ticket.
- Split Ticket: Player can bet on two or more groups of numbers on a single ticket by circling the groups to be played.
- Way Ticket: Combining several groups of numbers on the same ticket.
- Combination Ticket: The player selects two or more groups of numbers and indicates how the groups are to be combined to form many tickets within one ticket.
- King Ticket: One number is selected to be used with all the other groups that have been indicated.
- Multi Race Ticket: This is a ticket that indicates that it will be played for two or more sessions in a row.
Sometimes I receive mailings from individuals who are selling systems to beat Keno. They claim that they have found patterns to the numbers that can be exploited by their “super-seven Keno buster” or their “Keno pyramid” method or their “ping-pong power play.” The costs of these systems are—to say the least—exorbitant. The claims of the systems are—to be frank—bogus. Is there a magical system for beating Keno? Sorry, no. The system sellers are scamming us. The Keno numbers are selected randomly, either by air-driven ping-pong balls (just like many state lotteries) or by computer. The fact that some numbers may have hit several times and other numbers may not have shown their faces for quite awhile is no indication that a number will continue to hit or is due to hit. Picking numbers is sheer guesswork.
So why play Keno? First, it offers a relaxing atmosphere. Keno lounges are usually pleasantly appointed places, with comfortable chairs. You can drink a cup of coffee, pick your numbers in a leisurely fashion, and not worry about other players telling you what to do or what not to do. Played properly for small stakes, Keno, even with its abominably high house edges, will not drain your gambling bankroll any time soon as it is the snail of casino games.
And like anything in life, there is a better or a worse way to approach a Keno game. Walter Thomason, in his excellent book 109 Ways to Beat the Casinos (Bonus Books, $13.95), gives some great advice when it comes to Keno. “Don’t select more than eight numbers on a straight ticket. The odds of hitting all eight are 230,000 to 1—but the odds of hitting all nine out of nine numbers are 1.3 million to 1! Bet way tickets rather than straight tickets. The odds are the same, but you’ll hit more payoffs.”
The 5-Step Keno Strategy
- Play the minimum amount allowed, which is usually a dollar or two, as the house edge is very big at Keno—25 percent more or less. Luckily the game is slow, maybe one game per 6–10 minutes.
- If you are betting on several numbers, always have them in some kind of small or large sequence as you’ll note how often numbers run in sequence (but the game is still random!). This can be done on “way” tickets as well.
- Use Keno as a break from more adrenaline producing games when you want to stay in the action but you need a little rest from betting serious money.
- Video Keno, while much faster than regular Keno, has much better paybacks—more like your typical slot machine. However, you can play video Keno so fast that the speed makes up for the decrease in the house edge. My advice is to stick with the slow game and relax, have a cup of coffee or read a paper between games.
- Avoid betting the multi-race ticket. Don’t get caught up in Keno mania, the desire to hit your “lucky” numbers. Some people obsess that if they play the same numbers over and over, sooner or later these numbers will hit. They then fear not to play lest their numbers hit when they aren’t on them. To forestall Keno mania, don’t play the same combination of numbers all the time. Mix them up and try, do try, not to remember which numbers you played in previous games. Bet one game at a time only!
Big Denny, as usual, was in a foul mood. “Look at dis joint,” he grumbled, waving his hand at a nearly deserted Barstow Card Casino. “It’s as empty as … as …”
“As empty as the pan section on a Jewish holiday,” I said, helpfully completing his thought.
“Yeah, dat’s right,” Big Denny replied, not really understanding the witticism. “Boy, you sure got a way wit’ words, Maxey. Too bad da best ya kin do wit’ all dat talent is ta write fer peanuts fer dat cheapskate poker magazine.”
“Oh, it’s not all that bad,” I said defensively. “Sometimes we get nice bonuses and stuff.”
“Yeah, like what?” Big Denny asked.
“Well, I once got a swell tee shirt for Christmas.”
Oh, yeah, da one dat said, ‘Advertise in Card Sbobet88 Player.’ Dat Barry Shulman is a real philantropolis. Anyway, dat’s your problem. Mine’s gettin’ more customers into da casino. Kin ya figger out anyt’ing dat might stand improvement here?”
What wouldn’t? I thought to myself. The place hadn’t been thoroughly cleaned, much less redecorated, since the War of 1812. It was a snatch joint, with dealers paid a percentage of whatever they grabbed out of the pots. The cards were marked, the staff were all thuggish ex-cons, and any player who miraculously made a big score was lucky to make it alive to his car.
“Well,” I offered hesitantly, “you might try to improve the buffet a bit.”
Big Denny bristled. “Our Four-Star Buffet? What’s wrong wit’ it?”
“Well, for one thing, admissions to the emergency room went up 50 percent after it opened. For another, the only items I’ve ever seen you offer were meatloaf and mashed potatoes.”
“Oh, yeah? Well, it so happens dat our executive chef, Fingers, was da head cook at San Quentin fer five years, until his parole. Took me a while ta break him of da habit of addin’ saltpeter to da food, though,” Denny grinned. “Hey, lemme introduce ya ta him an’ maybe ya could give him some ideas.”
I was not terribly anxious to meet chef Fingers, but Denny grabbed my arm and hustled me into the kitchen. I staggered back as the aroma of rotting meat, rancid cooking oil, and garbage from an overflowing can washed over me. Rat droppings spattered the floor, and a cockroach the size of a small hamster insolently trotted away from us. On the wall, The Barstow Department of Health had posted a list of about 50 sanitation violations, which, it was obvious, nobody had bothered to read.
“Maxey, shake hands with Fingers Finnegan, our executive chef,” Big Denny told me.
Fingers was even more ape-like than Big Denny, if such a thing were possible. His long hairy arms were covered with tattoos, and his apron was covered with stains. Shaking hands with him was no easy task, either, since he had only two digits on each hand, the result of his ineptitude with a carving knife.
“Maxey says dat yer chow stinks,” Denny announced diplomatically.
Fingers’ eyes narrowed, and I saw his hand inching toward a butcher knife. How do I keep getting into these situations? I asked myself in panic.
“My grub stinks, huh?” Fingers growled menacingly. “Would it be askin’ too much to be a little more specific, punk?”
“I never said any such thing, Mr. Finnegan,” I protested. “I only suggested a bit more variety, to perhaps make the buffet a little less, well, a little less boring.”
“BORING!?” Fingers screamed, as my life flashed before my eyes. “You … you … brute! Oh, my heavens, I’ve never been so humiliated in my entire life,” he sobbed, dabbing at his eyes with his two fingers. “And as for you, Mr. Big Denny, you can just go and find yourself another executive chef!”
With that, Fingers tossed his filthy apron into the soup kettle and stormed out the door.
Big Denny glared at me. “Now ya really done it, Maxey. Ya better find me a new chef by the weekend or else I’m gonna sit on yer head till it hatches.”
Frantically thinking, I remembered that my friend Pierre le Tutu, the French fashion designer, was an avid amateur cook. He had some free time until his next line came out, so I decided to phone him to see if he could fill in for a while.
“Barstow?” le Tutu said suspiciously. “Where is zat?”
“Oh, it’s a very cosmopolitan town,” I assured him. “The folks here would just adore your French cuisine.”
Le Tutu drove up in the morning and spent the next few days assembling exotic ingredients and bustling furiously in the kitchen. “Dis better work,” Denny told me threateningly. “In two days, dat guy spent more on food den I spend in two months.”
Posters had been put up all over Barstow to announce the grand re-opening of Big Denny’s Four-Star Buffet, presided over by the world-famous French chef, Pierre le Tutu. At 6 p.m. the buffet opened, and a crowd of curious, overall-clad farmers shuffled in. At the entrance, le Tutu stood beaming alongside the opening menu he had proudly posted:
“Caramelized breast of guinea hen, stuffed with baby Brussels sprouts, pine nuts, and Belgian truffles, served with a light cream of asparagus dressing and garnished with wild arugula.”
The farmers stared blankly at the menu and gaped at the food as if it had just come from Mars.
“Sorta looks like fried chicken they forgot to bread,” one commented, scratching his head.
“Wouldn’t eat that dang stuff if they paid me,” another declared.
“Where the hell’s the meatloaf?” a third farmer demanded.
As the customers shook their heads and streamed out, an angry Pierre le Tutu began walking toward me from one direction while an even angrier Big Denny came at me from another. I bolted out the door and ran into the parking lot, where Fingers Finnegan, who had been staking me out, joined the chase. Dodging curses, meatloaf, and carmelized breast of guinea hen, I barely made it to my car and took off for the freeway at high speed.
And that, dear readers, marked the end of my stint as a restaurant critic.
The last two decades have witnessed an explosion in the number of poker books available to the aspiring player. This has significantly impacted the way poker is played in today’s casinos and card rooms. However, just because poker has grown like wild over the last several years doesn’t mean that the first poker book was written in 1979. One of these earlier books was A. D. Livingston’s Poker Strategy and Winning Play, written in 1971. This book was reprinted in 1991 as Poker Strategy. So, how does it compare to more recent works?
Overall, most of Livingston’s strategic advice is sound, including the admonition to play tight. Many of the concepts he writes about have been echoed by more contemporary authors, including his belief that bluffs should pay for themselves. That is, that Livingston believes that bluffing just for advertizing is a mistake. On the other hand, it will come as no surprise that some of his notions are very much dated. For example, the high-low split games discussed in this book never require a qualifier for low. Also, it’s amusing to hear Livingston talk about an exciting new form of poker called “Hold Me” played with two cards dealt down and five community cards dealt face up on the table. His advice on strategy for this game isn’t any good by contemporary standards, but even without a great deal of experience in the game, the author realized the importance of kickers, which shows some general understanding of the game in question.
The second section of the book covers mathematics. His introduction to determining event probabilities using combinations is reasonably well explained, but much of Livingston’s calculations aren’t very important in the ป๊อกเด้ง ไฮโล games that are commonly played today. The general focus of the book is not on the games that are typically found in the modern card room, but rather on home games. Therefore, determining the probabilities of events in Cincinnati or Deuces Wild Draw is on topic for the book, even if it won’t seem terribly relevant to most poker players.
The third section of the book is a description of many kinds of poker played in home games, including some brief strategic information about each game. Much of this would be pretty obvious to the veteran poker player, for example, that one should play awfully tight without the ace of spades in the hole if the game is Chicago. At the same time, some of it is insightful. Occasionally, the terminology used in the book may be a little confusing to people used to the vocabulary of contemporary poker literature. When speaking of games with community cards, Livingston refers to every round of betting in which a new card is exposed as a “turn”. As long as the reader is aware of this, it probably won’t be too distracting.
By today’s standards, nothing in Poker Strategy would be considered ground breaking. There are some strategic errors in the text, but at the time it was originally written it probably contained some of the better poker advice available in print. Unfortunately, as far as I can tell, no updates have been made to the original printing. Poker Strategy might be useful to those players who either want some pointers on how to improve their chances when someone calls for Baseball in a home game, or if they want to learn about some different and unusual games they might want to play next Friday night. Poker book junkies might find this book an amusing read, but I believe that $15 is a little steep for a book that hasn’t been updated in over 30 years.
Poker Strategy is a reprint of A. D. Livingston’s 1971 book Poker Strategy and Winning Play. While the book shows its age, it does contain some insight, especially when it comes to the wilder varieties of poker often played in home games. There’s nothing fundamental in this book that isn’t repeated more carefully in the contemporary poker literature, but for those who just like to read poker books it can provide some entertainment.…
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Microgaming Comments on Departing Licensees
Microgaming – Microgaming advises that two of its operator groups have ceased using the company’s online casino software.
It is well known that Microgaming imposes very strict regulation on its operators. Microgaming’s service provides continuous upgrades and improvements, PricewaterhouseCoopers reports, and programs allowing the players maximum information, control, and protection of their play. New features incorporated in software about to be launched will enhance these advantages.
Microgaming software also provides some of the highest player jackpots in the online gaming industry.
Microgaming’s Roger Raatgever stated that since Microgaming is the largest supplier of , it is inevitable that the company will lose operators from time to time.
Microgaming is confident that its operators will continue to prosper and grow from the use of its unique software. Microgaming pledges to continue to play its part in providing its operators and players with software and services to ensure entertainment of utmost integrity, security, and pleasure.
Microgaming considers the key to its success to be the continuous development of innovative value added products, and the associated intellectual property. As a matter of general policy therefore, Microgaming also announces a standing reward of up to US$ 500,000 for information leading to the successful prosecution, civil or criminal, of any person or corporate entity that has pirated or unlawfully profited from its intellectual property.…
Mason Malmuth is one of the most recognizable names in gambling for writing an incredible volume of information on applying skill to casino games. His book, Blackjack Essays, generally represents some of his earliest forays as an author and serves as a compendium of most of his contributions to the game of blackjack.
There are about 70 essays in this book dealing with a wide range of topics. Almost every one represented a new area of inquiry when it was written. Some now are well integrated into the corpus of general blackjack knowledge, some have been extended and elaborated on in other books, some represent the first foray into a still largely unexplored area, and some are still largely the last word on a particular topic.
The earliest essays in this book cover a concept Malmuth calls, “Card Domination”, which these days is more commonly called Shuffle Tracking. This is still a good introduction to the topic, although the Blackjack Forum series on Shuffle Tracking which appeared in about 1994 is far more thorough. However, I’ve recently seen shuffles which are trackable using Malmuth’s methods.
Another topic Malmuth explores in great depth is that of bankroll requirements or “Gambler’s Ruin”. Malmuth does a great job here of discussing why early blackjack literary figures probably underestimated the size of the fluctuations they would face. Of course, there was still room to explore these ideas in more detail in, for example, Blackjack Attack by Don Schlesinger. However, Malmuth’s writings on this topic are still valuable today, they’re just no longer the last word.
Malmuth provides what is probably the best currently in print description of Front Loading, good information on how to improve the profitability of casino trips, and, a Malmuth trademark, a thorough debunking of several mistaken blackjack myths perpetrated by other authors. Malmuth also provides some surprising results regarding biases, or “card clumping” that receives further attention in other books, but aptly demonstrates the author’s intellectual honesty in this volume.
On some topics, like Malmuth’s preference of shoe Slot Gacor games to hand-held games, and on his preference for more complex count systems, I disagree with the author. However, in these cases I do not fault his conclusions. Malmuth presents his case in a clear, straightforward manner listing the “pros” and “cons” of both sides of the issue and stating the reasons he believes his side of the debate is correct. By doing this he forces a reader who disagrees with him to articulate the reasons why, and, thus, does the reader a service.
Even though this book was first assembled almost 14 years ago, and some of its ideas have been expanded by other authors elsewhere, it still belongs in every serious blackjack player’s library. The ideas it espouses are, at their worst, worthy of serious consideration. I recommend it to anyone who has already learned and practiced a blackjack card counting system. Anyone who enjoyed this book should also read Gambling Theory and Other Topics, and anyone who enjoyed Gambling Theory and plays blackjack seriously should certainly read this book.
If you’ve learned and practiced a card counting system, have played in a casino, and are looking for extra advice, Blackjack Essays will likely be of considerable value. While it may not be the best supplemental book for the blackjack card counter (Blackjack Attack gets that honor), and some of its ideas are a bit dated or covered more thoroughly elsewhere, I still recommend it as a more than worthwhile addition to any serious blackjack player’s library.
Making diamond paintings is an easy and relaxing, enjoyable activity for all young and old crafters. But if you are one of diamond painting lovers, please pay attention to your health when you’re so interested in the works and stay still too long for drilling.
Although painting with diamonds has many good benefits to your health, it also comes with some unexpected problems. When you sit and making it for too long, there will be some problems to your health such as:
Back and Neck Pain
To help you prevent from getting these problems, we have found out some ways for you.
- Take hourly breaks
Every hour, get up from your desk or table and go for a quick walk anywhere. Just move. It will help you to reduce the stress to your eyes and also stretch your legs.
- Stretch or move in place
Don’t have anywhere to go? So you can stand up and stretch every half hour or so, touch your toes, walk or march in place for a few minutes.
- Set alarms on your computer or mobile device
Every hour of making diamond paintings, have a little ringer go off to remind you to take a stretch or walk to the nearest tree or neighbor’s house, or even walk/ play with your pet.
- Hit the water
Get yourself a reusable water bottle and keep it on your desk. Make yourself drink at least one full bottle before lunch, and one full one for the rest of the day. Drinking water will keep you fuller and less tempted to snack on empty calorie. More about Diamond Dotz
- Use some useful support tools
A light pad is more useful than you think! Many choices for you such as light pad A4, bigger A3, bigger A2…
Moreover, an adjustable folding table or a simple easel is amazing! Let’s see some experience shared by diamond painters.
Get yourself comfortable, grab a drink if you wish, and settle in because pai gow is probably the most difficult casino game to explain. Although the ranking of the hands is rather involved the concept of the game is quite simple. Once you get over the learning curve pai gow is a lot of fun, has a low house edge, and your money should last a long time at the table.
The Chinese have been betting on Pai Gow for centuries. Today Pai Gow can be found in casinos that attract a strong Asian clientele. It may be hard to find in Las Vegas but I believe every casino has it in Atlantic City. The Taj Majal, for example, has three pai gow tables.
If you are already familiar with pai gow poker then pai gow will seem familiar. Pai gow is played with a set of 32 dominos displayed below. Notice that some dominos appear once and some twice.
There is no significance to the color of the dots.
The object of the game is the same as in pai gow poker, to beat the banker. Unlike most casino games, in pai gow the player can have a turn to be the banker in which case the goal is to beat everybody else. The dealer also acts as a player in pai gow acting as banker in turn. When the dealer is not banking he will bet an amount equal to the bet the banker made the last time he played against the house bank. The dealer always plays his hand according to predetermined rules known as the house way. If a player wishes to bank but is uncomfortable with the financial risk of covering all other bets on the table he may ทางเข้า789bet request to co-bank with the house. If this option is selected his hand must be set according to the house way. The opportunity to bank is offered in turn to each player and dealer in a counter-clockwise direction.
The game is played with a set of 32 dominos, three dice, and a dice shaker. Play begins with all players making a wager. As the players decide how much to bet the dealer mixes up the dominos and puts them in 8 neat stacks of 4. Then the dice are rolled to determine who gets the first stack and then proceeds counter-clockwise. After the dice are exposed the player may not change his bet. Each player is given one stack of 4 dominos, which they are to arrange into two groups of two.
Each pair of dominos has a ranking. The player must decide how to arrange his dominos into the strongest possible pairs. Sometimes the choice is obvious but often a decision must be made whether to have a strong hand and a weak hand or two more balanced hands. At most there will be three possible and viable ways to play the hand. After a decision is reached the player should lay the dominos face down with the higher pair laying horizontally and the lower pair vertically. Only after all players have set their hands can the banker examine and set his dominos.
After all dominos have been arranged the banker and player will turn over their hands. Each player will in turn compare his hands to those of the banker. If the player wins both hands his bet pays even money less a 5% commission. If the player loses both he loses his entire wager. If the hands split, one win and one loss, then the bet is a push. After all bets have been settled the banker pays a 5% commission on the net win, if there was one.
How the hands are ranked is the complicated and there is no easy way to memorize the order. The highest hands are the matched pairs as follows. The highest pair, known as the supreme pair consists of the two wild dominos. Each of these wild dominos, known as “gee” may count as either 3 or 6 points if used individually. The Chinese name for the supreme pair is “Gee Joon” which is also the name of a restaurant in Binion’s Horseshoe in downtown Las Vegas.
- Supreme 2. Heaven 3. Earth 4. Man 5. Goose 6. Flower
- Long 8. Board 9. Hachet 10. Partition 11. Long
Leg 7 12. Big
Following in rank are certain non-matching pairs.
- Mixed 9 14. Mixed 8 15. Mixed 7 16. Mixed 5
Next in rank are special combinations known as Wongs. These combinations inlude either the 2 or 12 point domino and any 9 point domino.
- King of Heaven 18. King of Earth
Following the Wongs are other special combinations known as Gongs. These combinations inlude either the 2 or 12 point domino and any 8 point domino.
- Treasure of Heaven 20. Treasure of Earth
and or or and or or
Finally, if a pair, Wong, or Gong can not be formed then the hand is ranked according to the terminal digit of the total pip value of dots on the dominos. For example a hand consisting of a 12 and 7 dominos would have a total of 19 spots for the highest possible value of 9. The highest among these hands are the 6+6 and 1+1 dominos combined with a 7, known as a “high nine” because of their composition with one of the two highest individual dominos. In the event the player and banker have the same point total then the highest ranking domino in each will will be used to break the tie, the high domino wins. In the event that the high dominos are equal then the tie shall go to the banker. Note that the second highest dominos are not used to break the tie. There is an exception, in the event of a 0-0 copy then the tie will go to the banker. The following list shows every domino in order of their rank.
- Heaven 2. Earth 3. Man 4. Goose
- Flower 6. Long 7. Board 8. Hatchet
- Partition 10. Long leg 7 11. Big head 6 12. Mixed 9
- Mixed 8 14. Mixed 7 15. Mixed 5 16. Mixed 6
or or or or
Note that while the two wild dominos together are the highest ranking pair (the supreme pair) individually they are the lowest in rank.
There is no simple answer to what constitutes good strategy. Most of the time the correct play will be obvious. However sometimes the player must decide whether to weaken the high hand for the benefit of the low hand.
In his book Pai Gow Chinese Dominoes Michael J. Musante presents what is known now as the Musante house way which has influenced the house way of many casinos. Dr. John Gwynn later analyzed the effects of various strategies played against the Musante strategy. Assuming the player used the Musante strategy as well the house edge would be 0.6182% as the banker, 2.3896% as a player, and 1.5039% on average. Assuming the player used an optimal single strategy designed to defeat the Musante strategy the house edge would be -0.1387% as the banker, 1.6376% as a player, and 0.7495% on average. Assuming the player used two optimal strategies depending on whether acting as the banker or a player the house edge would be -0.1472% as the banker, 1.6225% as a player, and 0.7377% on average.
The most practical of these statistics for the novice player are those for the Musante vs. Musante. These figures also show that to minimize the overall house edge the ratio of money wagered as banker is much more important than the strategy used. Assuming the player banked half of his/her total bets and used the same strategy as the dealer and other players the house edge would be about 1.5%.
The House Way
Following is the house way for the Foxwoods casino. Of the three casino house ways I have I find this one to be the easiest to explain.
Always keep pairs together except:
Split supreme pair with 6-4, 6-5, or 6-6.
Split 2s or 12s to make 6-8 or better. Also split with 9&11.
Split 9s with any two of 2,10,12.
Split 8s with any two of 2,10,11,12. Also split with 9&11.
Split 7s with any two of 2,10,11,12.
Play 2 or 12 with a 7,8, or 9. With both a 2 and 12 play the 12 in the high hand. Play high 9 over wong and gong and gong over wong except:
Play wong over gong when fourth tile is 11.
Play wong over high 9 when fourth tile is 11.
Play gong over high 9 when fourth tile is any 4 or when third and fourth tiles are low (mixed) 8 and 5.
Make the low hand as high as possible. This includes playing the high domino in the low hand when given the choice. Exceptions:
If the low hand does not have a value of at least long 3 (a total of 3 with the long domino or higher) and a 7 or higher is possible in the high hand then make the high hand as high as possible. This includes playing the high domino in the high hand when given the choice.
If the two hands total 8-9 or more then play the high domino in the high hand.
2, 5, 6, 12: play 7, high 8.
High 8, low 8, high 4, any 7: play 2, high 5.
High 10, low 10, high 6, any 7: play 6, high 7.
High 10, low 10, high 6, low 8: play 6, high 8.
High 10, low 10, high 6, any 9: play 6, high 9.
High 10, high 8, 11, low 7: play 7, high 9.
High 4, low 4, gee (mixed 6), 5: play high 7, 9.
2 or 12, any 6, 5, gee: play 7, 9.
High 6, low 6, 11, gee: play 7, high 9.
High 8, low 8, any 7, 9: play high 5, 7.
Finally, there is an unwritten rule that you never play a hand in a way that an alternative would result in both a stronger high and low hand. For example with a pair of 12s, 6, and wild. The splitting 12s rule says to split to make 6-8 or better. However pair/9 beats 8/8 on both hand and low hands, thus overrides the pair splitting rule.
Play for Fun
Pai gow is a game that cries out for a way to practice before making a fool of yourself and blowing your money in a casino. For this reason please try my pai gow Java game.
Pai Gow Without Tears by Bill Zender. The author kindly gave me a copy of his booklet to help with my research on pai gow. If you are interested in the book it may be purchased from the Gambler’s Book Club for $20.00.
A Detailed Study of Pai Gow by Dr. John M. Gwynn, Jr. The author was gracious in sending me his study, which he no longer distributes, by e-mail.
The Foxwoods dealer, who shall remain anonymous, who provided me with the Foxwoods house way.
A child of the computer age, spanish 21 is a computer derived variation of blackjack. The term “spanish” refers to the 48-card deck used in some spanish card games. It is a regular 52-card deck with the four tens removed. Although, in most respects spanish 21 is played just like standard blackjack the basic strategy is somewhat different.
As a specially designed version of blackjack, spanish 21 had liberalized rules and unique bonuses. The casinos can be so generous in spanish 21 because removal of the four tens from the deck gives the house a large advantage. The changes in rules and payout were designed to attract jaded blackjack players and are what has made the game so popular. For instance, in standard blackjack, it is always exhilarating to hit a count of 21 on the nose. But it quickly turn into a disappointment if the dealer also hits 21 (resulting in a push instead of a win). In spanish 21, if both dealer and player have 21, the player wins.
A big reason why the casinos like spanish 21 so much is Unique Casino because it’s quick like traditional blackjack, and gives player about the same edge, while throwing off card counters. Not to mention the fact that the more liberal rules of spanish 21 attracts the players who have grown tired of blackjack.
slot machines history
The term slot machines was originally used for automatic vending machines as well as for the gambling devices, but in the 20th century the term became restricted to the latter. The first such gambling devices in the United States were mere novelties that did not return coins but presented gambling opportunities, such as two toy horses that would race after a coin was inserted. Such devices set on a bar in a saloon attracted wagering between patrons.
The first actual slot machines were built by Charles Fay in 1887 in a small machine shop in San Francisco. He built nickle slot machines by hand and rented them to the local gambling halls. His first machine was not, as some believe, cruder and bulkier than modern slot machines, nor did its reels carry the fruit symbols commonly used today. His original slot machine, called the Liberty Bell, was somewhat smaller than modern machines, and operate basically the same way.
Fay’s slot machines were a huge success, and he couldn’t build them fast enough in his small shop. Many larger gambling supply maufacturers tried to buy the manufacturing and distribution rights, but Fey refused. However, in 1907, Herbert Stephen Mills, a Chicago manufacturer of arcade-like machines, began production of a mahince very similar the Fey’s Liberty Bell. The Machine Mills produced was called the Operator Bell. By 1910, slot machines could be found in every cirt and nearly every hamlet in the country.
Forces of morality, and then of law, opposed the operation of slot machines. Throughout the 1920s, the slot machines were popular throughout much of the United States, especially in resort areas, and they continued to be popular into the Great Depression years of the ’30s. In the late 40’s Bugsy Siegel added slot machines to his Flamingo Hilton hotel in Las Vegas. Originally, the slot machines were installed as a way to entertain the wives and girlfriends of high rollers, but revenue from the slot machines soon began supplanting that of the table games. In the mid 1980’s the popularity of slot machines and table games were on par with each other, but by the 90’s slot machines had taken over and now account for over two-thirds of casino revenue in the US.…