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Last Updated: August 15, 2007

Pai Gow Poker Appendix 2


This appendix presents my advice on when to split up a two pair. It first appeared in my newsletter dated March 2, 2001.

Probably the most frequent hand which necessitates a non-obvious decision is the two pair. I have always thought the house way for splitting pairs seemed rather arbitrary. For example at the Trump Plaza house way for splitting pairs is:

  • Low pair and low pair: Split unless holding a king or better.
  • Low pair and medium pair: Split unless holding a king or better.
  • Low pair and high pair: Split unless holding an ace.
  • Medium pair and medium pair: Split unless holding an ace.
  • Medium pair and high pair: Always split.
  • High pair and high pair: Always split.
  • Pair of aces and any other pair: Always split.

Where:
2 through 6: Low cards
7 through 10: Medium cards
Jack through king: High cards
This is very typical. Most other casinos use this exact rule or something similar.I ran my program to determine the best play under millions of two pair hands and recorded the results according to the value of each pair and the highest singleton. In some cases the best play also depended on the other singletons in which case my advice follows the correct play the majority of the time. Following is my advice on when to split two pairs when playing against the Trump Plaza house way.

Split the two pair unless:
1. The sum of the ranks is 9 or less and you have a king or ace singleton, or
2. The sum of the ranks is 15 or less and you have an ace singleton.

By the "sum of the ranks" I mean adding the value of each pair. For example a two pair consisting of 4s and 8s would have a sum of ranks of 4+8=12. Face cards and aces have a value according to their poker value, for example an ace would be highest at 14.

Switching from the house way two pair rule to my two rules above will cut the house edge by 0.04%, plus I think my two rules are easier to remember than those of the house way.

Michael Shackleford, ASA

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