Pai Gow Poker Betting Systems

I get it. I do.

The thought of beating the casino is exciting. Beating them for hundreds, or even thousands of dollars? Even better.

I mean, why else would you want to know more about betting systems? Why else would you be reading this page?

Well, I have bad news for you. Betting systems DO NOT work.

If that comes as a shock to you, I’m sorry. But you’ll never win in the long run using your pai gow poker betting system, no matter what that late night infomercial, your spouse or friends told you.

In fact, the owner of, Michael Shackleford, issued a challenge where we would pay anyone $20,000 if they could come up with a betting system that showed a profit over a 1 billion hand simulation that he created. He would also publicly announce on his website that he was wrong.

So, how many takers were there?


All offering $20,000 got him was one interested person (that backed out) and tire kickers. He ended up taking down the offer in 2005.

Michael Bluejay, the owner of, has a similar bet running. He will give you 10-1 odds that your betting system cannot beat the house over 200,000 rounds. No one to date has taken him up on his offer.

So, what’s the point? Why would they make these bets?

To prove that betting systems are pointless. That you shouldn’t waste your time with them, unless you enjoy using them for fun.

I point this out because I want to set a particular tone before getting to the betting systems. I don’t want to share the most popular systems with you, if all you’re going to see them as a get rich scheme, your golden ticket to diamonds, unicorns and bragging rights.

In addition, I want to make sure you don’t get ripped off by the guys that are selling their ‘beat the casino’ ebooks for $19.99.

The bottom line – I just want to drill the point home that the only way to beat the house at pai gow poker is by using proven strategies, either found here or on sites like Wizard of Odds. And that, with most games, you should expect to lose in the long run, regardless of what strategies you use.

Now, with that mini-rant out of the way, lets look at some betting systems.


Betting Systems & Types

The first thing to understand about betting systems is that there are two types – positive and negative progressions.


Positive Progression – Using these systems you increase your bet whenever you win, and decrease your bets whenever you lose.


Negative Progression – You increase your bets after a loss in hopes that when you win, you win back your losses. Sometimes you win back a little extra. What you want to remember about these systems is that they can drain your bankroll quickly.


Next we have the most common betting systems that will work with pai gow poker.


Martingale – The idea behind this strategy is that when you win, you keep your bets the same. When you lose, and each subsequent loss thereafter, you double your bet. For example, if you bet $5 and lose, your next bet should be $10. If you lose that, your next bet should be $20, and so on. To learn more, read our guide on the Martingale betting system.


Parlay – The idea behind this system is to ‘let it ride.’ For example, if you place a $5 bet, win and collect $10, you don’t pocket your $5 profit – you bet the entire $10 on the next hand. When you choose to end your streak and pocket your profits is up to you – that’s the risk you take, either all or nothing. Sometimes players will use a spread, say from $10 to $100. Once they hit that $100 mark they pocket their profits. If they lose, they go back to 0.


The D’Alembert – This is straightforward. If you win you increase your bet by one unit. If you lose you decrease your bet by one unit.


You can use these systems in any casino game, not just pai gow poker. People often ask which system they should. Other than telling them none, my second answer is, whichever system is the most fun. I like the idea of ‘letting it ride,’ because making large bets make me feel like a big shot.

Seriously though, you should skip the betting systems and read our strategy page instead. Between that, a few free drinks and maybe a buffet comp, and you should break even, maybe even come out ahead.


In the long run, of course.