Does the RTG software cheat at Paigow Poker?

chuchu59

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I have been playing paigow poker at RTG for several years and sometimes feel that the house way is set to either deprive me of a win or make me lose. However, I understand there are many ways to set house rules so I am not 100% sure they cheat. I have been asking Inetbet to let me have the house rules but despite many promises nothing actually transpired. They did not even have the courtesy to tell me they are still on it. Useless people!

Now Club World has managed to tell me that RTG follows Stanford Wong's strategy in setting the House Way. Now, wonder of wonders. I play at an RTG and had a Hand comprising a pair of 4's, a Queen and 8,5,3 and 2. The dealer had 3 Kings a 10 and severl other small cards. The result was the Dealer splitting the 3 Kings into a pair for the High Hand and a K and 10 for the low hand. WTF? My Q in the low hand being beaten by a K in the dealer's low hand. In all my years of playing this game I had nearly seen the splitting of 3 Ks. Still, it is possible that Standford Wong's strategy splits 3 Kings. Alas, it was not to be and the strategy, as with most others used by Microgaming and Rival only splits Aces. If this is not cheating by RTG what is?

Anyone wants to counter this. RTG operators are welcome to chime in and refute my allegations.
 

Scooter7

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I've looked at the published house-way for a dozen casinos and have never seen a rule indicating that three kings should be split. When I dealt the game years ago (which was like watching dry paint peel:puke:), I often theorized that IF I was allowed to make decisions instead of following a script, I would give serious thought to splitting three kings if the rest of the house's cards were so small that there was no real chance of winning the low hand versus the players. Of course, there is no dealer decision making involved, so my theorizing was moot.

The reluctance of the casino to give you a list of the house-way rules (which every casino in the universe seems to be fine with handing out to players) is a red flag to me. I'm now suspicious that they've put conditional logic in that will allow what you've described to take place if it is advantageous for the house. I would write off this casino until they are more open and communicative.
 

spearmaster

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That is the correct way - though it may seem very strange. With a 10 in the front pair, and 3 Kings in the back, the house has a very high chance of losing the front hand. You would also do the same thing with three Aces, but with three Queens you would keep them all in the back hand.

If you look at the Wizard of Odds site, you will find the following power ratings for the house:

K 10 front hand: 0.405186
Pair of Kings, back hand: 0.65305
Power rating: 1.05921

10 9 front hand (best case scenario): 0.104313
Three Kings, back hand: 0.890772
Power rating: 0.99585

When I used to play a lot of pai gow poker, we would call this a "gamble hand" - as two kings or aces in back is generally considered to be strong enough.
 

Scooter7

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Hey Spearmaster,


As a player, I understand that the KKKxxxx scenario is a choice (or gamble) based on the stats and as such it's fine for a player to choose one way or the other. As for the house, have you ever seen a rule set that defined splitting 3 Kings as the house-way strategy?
 

KasinoKing

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If this is not cheating by RTG what is?
It seems a little unusual for sure, but I have done the same myself as a player a few times.

However, I have to say that if RTG (or any other software) wanted to "cheat" in PaiGow, they would just rig the software to give the dealer a superior hand in the first place, not do it by dealing random cards then changing the way the hand is split.

KK
 

spearmaster

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As a player, I understand that the KKKxxxx scenario is a choice (or gamble) based on the stats and as such it's fine for a player to choose one way or the other. As for the house, have you ever seen a rule set that defined splitting 3 Kings as the house-way strategy?
It's been a long time since I've played pai gow poker, though I played it where/when it was invented (Commerce Casino), and even won their first ever Pai Gow Poker tournament.

As noted elsewhere, most house ways only split Aces. But as also noted elsewhere, there are many different house ways. Splitting kings would most certainly be one of the variations and I definitely would have no problem with RTG or any other software using that as their house way.

Also, most casinos don't really publish their house ways, so you'd have to see a lot of hands before you knew what their house way was - though the Wizard did manage to get the house ways for a few different casinos. Needless to say, if you knew what the house way was, you could potentially alter your playing strategy to be more aggressive or more safe depending on the circumstances.

I personally have never asked to see the full house way strategy anywhere, so no I haven't seen a house way rule set that defined splitting 3 Kings.
 

aka23

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Now Club World has managed to tell me that RTG follows Stanford Wong's strategy in setting the House Way. Now, wonder of wonders. I play at an RTG and had a Hand comprising a pair of 4's, a Queen and 8,5,3 and 2. The dealer had 3 Kings a 10 and severl other small cards. The result was the Dealer splitting the 3 Kings into a pair for the High Hand and a K and 10 for the low hand. WTF? My Q in the low hand being beaten by a K in the dealer's low hand. In all my years of playing this game I had nearly seen the splitting of 3 Ks. Still, it is possible that Standford Wong's strategy splits 3 Kings. Alas, it was not to be and the strategy, as with most others used by Microgaming and Rival only splits Aces. If this is not cheating by RTG what is?

Anyone wants to counter this. RTG operators are welcome to chime in and refute my allegations.
KKK10 is an extremely borderline hand. It's so close that the optimal decision depends on how large the remaining 3 cards are. RTG probably did make the optimal strategy decision. I haven't heard of a house way that splits 3 kings (like they do for 3 aces), as they are simple enough to memorize easily. In contrast, I wouldn't be surprised if Stanford Wong's strategy was more precise and specified when to split and keep three kings, depending on the values of the remaining cards.
 

spearmaster

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KKK10 is an extremely borderline hand. It's so close that the optimal decision depends on how large the remaining 3 cards are. RTG probably did make the optimal strategy decision. I haven't heard of a house way that splits 3 kings (like they do for 3 aces), as they are simple enough to memorize easily. In contrast, I wouldn't be surprised if Stanford Wong's strategy was more precise and specified when to split and keep three kings, depending on the values of the remaining cards.
Actually, the 3 remaining cards are irrelevant. With a 10, the hand is already of very low quality. It is both safer as well as more aggressive to split the kings.

Strategy-wise, I'm pretty sure Stanford was very precise as you pointed out - but from a house standpoint, they need to keep the rules as simple as possible so that dealers can remember them. It is likely that some of the other software platforms either picked up one of these simplified house way strategies, or decided that too much code was required to program the optimal house way.
 

Scooter7

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Preface:

The house and an individual player have different goals and thus have different strategies when setting their hands. The player is playing against one hand while the house is playing (at a brick & mortar) against six hands.


Question:

How does the difference in focus between player and house affect what the optimum strategy should be?


Thanks, I'll hang up now and listen to your answer:lolup::rolleyes:
 

aka23

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Actually, the 3 remaining cards are irrelevant. With a 10, the hand is already of very low quality. It is both safer as well as more aggressive to split the kings.
According to the power rating method you listed, with KKKT9 it's higher EV to keep the 3 kings to make KKK and 10/9. However, with KKKT7, splitting to form KK and K/10 is higher EV. This indicates that the remaining cards are relevant.
 

chuchu59

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How the software sets the cards is a decision made by them. However, as in all table games including my favourite paigow Tiles, there must be a House Way and the dealer is bound to set the tiles according to its own rules. I understand that usually the House Way is not set aggressively because they want to minimise losses given that they have a built-in advantage in the 5% commission and the pushes for the low/high hands which results in wins for the dealer.

It could be that the Stanford Wong strategy splits the Kings and I am okay with that although the information sent to me with regard to the way the cards are set only allows for the splitting of Aces and nothing else. They must publish the House rules like Rival and MG and should not set the cards arbitrarily. What bugs me is that for more than a year I have not gotten the full set of House Rules which would seem fishy to me. No casino in the world can set cards/tiles any way they wish without being bound by rules that are open for viewing. If anyone, including RTG operators can confirm that Stanford Wong's strategy is the one used by RTG and can publish the full set of rules, including the splitting of 3K's I will shut up. Otherwise, they may have something to hide over what is essentially a simple thing to do.
 

spearmaster

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According to the power rating method you listed, with KKKT9 it's higher EV to keep the 3 kings to make KKK and 10/9. However, with KKKT7, splitting to form KK and K/10 is higher EV. This indicates that the remaining cards are relevant.
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10/9 in front is tantamount to having a Jack, so that is very very borderline... haha... nevertheless, this type of hand is essentially a no-win situation if you do not split the kings. It is much more sensible, and reasonable, to use a 10 as the borderline (ie. split) than to remember 10-8 don't split, 10-7 split.

The reason the small cards are irrelevant anyway is because 3 kings cannot be tied in any manner - it is impossible for the house to get 2 kings. Thus, to beat 3 kings in back, the house requires 3 Aces or better... and if you split the kings and put 2 kings in back, the house still can't have 2 kings in back, so they will require a pair of Aces or better. Thus the small cards will never be relevant except in the front hand - and a 10 high front is going to lose approximately 90%+ of the time.
 

spearmaster

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How the software sets the cards is a decision made by them. However, as in all table games including my favourite paigow Tiles, there must be a House Way and the dealer is bound to set the tiles according to its own rules. I understand that usually the House Way is not set aggressively because they want to minimise losses given that they have a built-in advantage in the 5% commission and the pushes for the low/high hands which results in wins for the dealer.

It could be that the Stanford Wong strategy splits the Kings and I am okay with that although the information sent to me with regard to the way the cards are set only allows for the splitting of Aces and nothing else. They must publish the House rules like Rival and MG and should not set the cards arbitrarily. What bugs me is that for more than a year I have not gotten the full set of House Rules which would seem fishy to me. No casino in the world can set cards/tiles any way they wish without being bound by rules that are open for viewing. If anyone, including RTG operators can confirm that Stanford Wong's strategy is the one used by RTG and can publish the full set of rules, including the splitting of 3K's I will shut up. Otherwise, they may have something to hide over what is essentially a simple thing to do.
As I pointed out above - splitting the Kings is both more aggressive and safer. I do however agree that perhaps the house way should be published in order to avoid any suggestion of impropriety.
 

Pinababy69

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I can't believe this is still going on after a year Chuchu. I remember you posting before about trying to obtain the house rules for this game from Inetbet, and being met with a brick wall.

I know nothing about the game itself, but it seems common sense and fair play that the rules for ANY game should be readily available to all players, whether that be on the website, in the game somewhere (clickable screen), or via request through support.

Would this be worth a PAB to once and for all get these rules Chu? I totally agree with you that it has gone on too long, and I see no reason why you haven't been able to get them.

This is probably a stupid question...but I'm going to assume that the house rules for this game would be set the same for all RTG casinos?
 

aka23

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10/9 in front is tantamount to having a Jack, so that is very very borderline... haha... nevertheless, this type of hand is essentially a no-win situation if you do not split the kings. It is much more sensible, and reasonable, to use a 10 as the borderline (ie. split) than to remember 10-8 don't split, 10-7 split.
I'm using an application I wrote, which does a similar calculation. It favors keeping the three kings for 10/9 and splitting for 10/low. However, the table you quoted comes to the same conclusion if you maximize 0.95*(2 card PR)*(5 card PR) - (1 - 2 card PR)*(1 - 5 card PR), rather than doing a simple sum.

In any case, it is a borderline situation, in which the decision has little effect on EV. Note that in a close call like this, many players would favor the lower variance approach of keeping the 3 of a kind and reducing risk of a loss (going for a tie), rather than going for a win. Examples include persons who are trying to complete a bonus WR with minimal BR fluctuation.
 
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chuchu59

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A slight derail to my own thread. Played a hand at a Rival casino today. My hand was Joker-6 for the low hand and 2 pairs 10s and 9s for the high hand with a 5. The dealer had AQ for the low hand and 2 pairs, 10s and 6s for the high hand with an 8. A push right! Nope. The casino took away my bet meaning I lost the hand.

The nightmare continues. Went to live chat and told him about the hand. First I was told that the records showed that though the records showed that I lost my account balance remained the same nevertheless. Then he proceeded to tell me that my balance before I played this hand was $340 decimals omitted) and the balance before I played the very next hand was $339. Go figure. The fact was that I lost the hand meant that I had a new balance of $330 and since I won the next hand it was $339 was the balance after the next hand.

After clarifying this whole bit I was told that according to House Rules, a push means I lose and since my highest pair in the high hand was 10s and the it was the same for the dealer I lost the high hand. Man, if the reps dont know about the game shut up. It took another 5 minutes of my time to explain that this wasnt so and finally the rep told me this will be forwarded to the tech department and only after that will my account be credited back. Why? It is clearly seen that the game should be a push according to the history hand and that the lost bet should be reinstated. The tech flaw is none of my business and they can take weeks or even months to review it given this is Rival. In fact, several months ago, I told them of a flaw in their setting of cards with a joker and it still hasnt been corrected yet. This time, it is even worse. Nevertheless, I have had enough of this rep and just told him to credit my account back within 24 hours. No point in arguing anymore with someone whjo knows nothing about the game. Boy, what's up with the different software re this game.
 

spearmaster

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LOL Chuchu, that is just crazy! But once upon a time MGS had a similar problem, which I told them about in no uncertain terms :)

aka - 10/9 vs 10/7 for the front hand is different by a bit over 3 points... but any 10 upfront is still extraordinarily weak. By contrast, when playing only a pair of kings in the back, you still have a positive edge - in other words you aren't leaving your back hand overly weak by splitting.

Players would normally default to keeping the kings intact - which is not a problem. Plus it's one less rule to remember.

It is definitely borderline - but frankly I think if you run a brute force simulation, you will find that splitting the kings has a better net return (not significantly, though). I'd certainly be interested in seeing the results but I don't have the time at present to write the code necessary for testing.

BTW - Chuchu, your understanding of house wanting to minimize risk is correct - the problem is that this is usually done in a multi-player situation, rather than a one-on-one. The concept is to set safe to push any strong hands, and to catch out the weak hands, which will always exist in a multi-player situation.

However - in your particular instance, the "safe" setting should still split the Kings in a multi-player situation because the house will hope to protect against straights or above in the back and weak fronts. By keeping the kings intact, they have little chance of winning in front, and some chance of losing in back... by splitting, they'll definitely catch out a few hands with the K in front, even if they give up extra by losing out to a pair of Aces or two pair in back. Again, I believe that a brute force simulation will bear this out.
 

aka23

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It is definitely borderline - but frankly I think if you run a brute force simulation, you will find that splitting the kings has a better net return (not significantly, though). I'd certainly be interested in seeing the results but I don't have the time at present to write the code necessary for testing.
My calc is equivalent to a brute force simulator. It gives an EV of -0.038 for keeping KKK, and -0.041 for splitting. So as we both agree, it is a close call. It is so close in fact, that the highest net return strategy for player and banker differs. The banker has a higher EV if he splits.
 

spearmaster

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My calc is equivalent to a brute force simulator. It gives an EV of -0.038 for keeping KKK, and -0.041 for splitting. So as we both agree, it is a close call. It is so close in fact, that the highest net return strategy for player and banker differs. The banker has a higher EV if he splits.
Ok, I can buy that. For .003, I'd say it's a bit easier just to remember to split the Kings :)
 

chuchu59

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Just dropping a note to thank Buzzluck. This is not the casino that I played the 3K hand at and neither have I ever asked them for a copy of the House Rules unlike Inetbet who are hiding away and didnt even bother updating me on this issue.

Alex of Buzzluck was nice to offer to me a playthrough of $10K to test the games which I declined (too much hard work lol). Then he offered to chase up the Rules for me. The issue does not involve them primarily but as they use this software platform they are adamant that any issues regarding it are resolved promptly so kudos to them.
 

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