Last week I went to Vegas, and I mostly played $25 Pai-Gow Tiles. Over my 3 day trip, I played two hands of $5 UTH, two hands of $5 Crazy 4 Poker, one hand of $5 Texas Hold’Em Bonus, and maybe two dozen hands of $10 blackjack. Otherwise, I just played Pai-Gow tiles. It was the first time I played with a strategy, which I practiced on my trainer before the trip.
There were only a few other people that played the game. Often I was there by myself. The game isn’t hard to play, but there’s not a lot of beginner instruction out there, so it remains very mysterious to most people. So I made some video tutorials, to give people that jump-start to understanding the game. (Look for all my YouTube videos on Pai-Gow tiles.)
There’s a few reasons you should learn Pai-Gow tiles. First, it’s a lot of fun if you like games that require a little thought. Secondly, it’s a very cheap game. If you alternate hands as player and banker (e.g., when you’re heads up), the house edge is less than 1%. It even gets cheaper if the house doesn’t use quarters, and charges only $1 commission on a $25 win (4% commission). Finally, and perhaps most importantly, you get tons of degen “cred” by knowing this game well (especially if you’re lo-fan).
I played about 20 hours of $25 Pai-Gow Tiles at the MGM Grand, and got comp’ed for one night hotel stay (all I needed; my friend got comp’ed the other two nights), and I received $67 in cash comps towards our meals. Other than tokes, the average house vig came out to (20 hours)(30 hands/hour)($25/hand)(1%) = $150, which is about the value of my comps. I call that fair. Plus, I ended up winning on the trip, and came back with more money in my pocket than when I left.
When I go with friends on 3-4 day trips to Vegas, I usually end up looking for a cheap game at some point during my 72 hours in the casino. Pai Gow Poker is cheap and slow, but it’s painfully boring. So the last few times we stayed at the Mirage, I started playing Pai Gow Tiles. I really like it now, because it’s a new game to learn, and I feel quite the degen pushing around the pretty little tiles.
The first times I played, I barely knew how to read a hand, and I didn’t learn any strategy. I often asked the dealer for the house way, which I later found out costs at least 0.5% compared to even a simple strategy. Besides, it’s much more fun to set your own hand (correctly). The Wizard of Odds has a very good calculator, but I still needed a practice trainer that taught a simple strategy.
So I wrote a trainer to teach myself, and other newbies, how to play the Wizard’s Simple Strategy. With some interactive practice, and just a little reading on the basics of the game, I hope that anyone can learn to play.
I wrote up a tutorial page on Pai Gow Tiles, if you need some background on the game.