When we last left off, I had just started talking about the Banker in Pai Gow, which you can opt to play if you desire. Today, I’ll go more in detail about this fascinating part of the game.
All players in Pai Gow are betting against the bank. This isn’t to be confused with the dealer, because in Pai Gow, the bank could be a player. When it’s a player’s turn to be the bank, that player can accept or decline. Should the player decline, the house will always accept in place of the player.
To beat the Banker, both of your hands must beat the Banker’s hands. Any “copies,” which is a fancy name for hand ties, goes to the Banker. Some players work to just win one of the two hands, because that’s a push and no money exchanges hands.
An example of a “copy” would be your 2nd highest hand and the bank’s 2nd highest hand consisting of a Jack-Queen. The bank wins all copies.
Depending on the casino, the option to be the banker could rotate clockwise or counter-clockwise. If the table is full, you’ll get the opportunity to be the banker once per seven hands, because the dealer is included in that rotation. The casino earns a 5% commission from all winning hands.
The option to be the banker goes position to position. If the current offering position is vacant, the house gets to be the bank.
In order for you to be the bank, you’ll need enough money to cover all the bets on the table. If you really want to bank, but can’t afford it, the casino may offer to co-bank with you. Ask your dealer if this is an option. However, be advised that when you co-bank, you must set your hand in accordance with house rules.
Also, when you bank, the dealer will bet too. Don’t worry; the dealer isn’t going to dump all the chips of the casino on the table. The dealer’s bet will be equal to your last wager. If the amount is more than you’d like to bank against, see if the house will reduce it to the table minimum. It is possible.
Keep in mind that depending on the software, these little nuances can be lost when playing Pai Gow online. Also, banking may have less significance, because you don’t have any other players at the table.
Once the hand-when you are the banker-is over, the losers are taken and the winners paid. The house takes a 5% vig out of your net winnings. For instance, let’s say you paid out $200, but took in $500; your net winnings would be $300. The 5% vig that you’ll pay would be $15.
Being the banker is something you want to do as often as possible. In the long run, it’s the moneymaker. Again, another reason why you want other people at the table if you’re going to play Pai Gow online.
In the next part of our series, we’ll talk about setting your hand in Pai Gow.