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Milking the Shark
One method you could you use to milk Pazaak for all it's worth is this - wager 40 credits on a game and win. Save it. Then play another game, but wager only 1 credit, and lose intentionally. Then you can save it on a different save block. If you give up that 1 credit, none of the Pazaak players will accuse you of cheating since you are losing, and if you lose a game that you wagered 40 credits on, you can just load up your last save and try again.
Cheap Pazaak Strategy
I've found that even though the higher the card play value the less they cost, often times the higher cards (particularly the - or +/- 6 cards) are very handy in a game.
With that theory in mind, I've devised a strategy that works fairly well to get you up and running with a pretty decent game deck for a relatively low initial investment.
You absoultely MUST spend 50 credits for the deck in the Taris upper cantina obviously, and then my reccomendation is to NOT play any games until you get to the lower cantina. There, purchase a combination of -6 and +/-6 cards. Obviously, the +/- cards are more valuable, both in credits and in games, but as they cost 10x the plain negative cards it's my opinion that you can do just fine with few or none of them (for now).
A quick outline of advantages to this method:
1. MOST cards you actually purchase are effectively wasted credits eventually as you'll find or win a pretty good assortment as you progress through the game. Therefore it's advantageous to spend as little as possible on them, especially early in the game where credits are most scarce.
2. ANY card with a negative value is inherently better to have in your deck than one that is only positive. This is because the negative cards actually enable you to win more hands while using few if any side deck cards at all since you "hit" more agressively, thereby often getting the benefit of good luck in the draw.
3. Related to above. The reason I suggest using the -6 value cards is that they allow you to be the MOST agressive in your "hit" tactics. You can ALWAYS safely hit a 16 because you won't end up over a 26 no matter what, and one card will bring you back down under 20.
1. I always stand on a 19 unless the opponent has already won 2 games and has 20 on the table.
2. I ALWAYS hit on a 16 or less unless this already results in a tie or win.
3. I always stand once achieving a tie (if the opponent has chosen to "stand") with only a few exceptions such as already having won 2 hands in a match and still having 3 or 4 cards in my side deck or the like.
4. If you've already managed to win a hand or two while using only one siide card or none, especially if you've noticed that when the opponent goes slightly over 20 he's lost a hand, it can be very advantageous to use a side card to bring your total back to near 10 or so and "hit" again, forcing him to be first to reach somewhere close to 20 (or above). The reasons are that first, he'll often stand between 16 and 18 (which is a lot easier to beat or tie than 19 and 20), and second.. if he breaks 20, either you win by default, or he has to play his side cards, rather often forcing him to stand on a slightly lower value than usual. (again, often around 16 or so).
5. It may not be very sporting, but save your game every time you win a set. You can then re-load if you happen to get one of those games where no matter what you do the opponent is always getting 20 (often without even using side cards) and you lose constantly.
6. I should also mention that all the tips presented by Applebrown previously hold true.. except if anything here actually directly contradicts or does not apply. ;)
This strategy can take a bit of getting used to, and eventually gets a lot harder to pull off successfuly (as you encounter better players/decks). I've found though that by then, I've found/won a good deal of assorted +/- cards, and can change tactics effectively with still a minimum of spent credits. I've also been able to use these tactics to "play out" all players who seem to have a limit that I am aware of (which can often earn you some bonus items or cards.)
But being that I've probably rambled on long enough here, I just hope it helps someone. =)
General Pazaak Strategy
Obviously, the rules of Pazaak are that you get as close to a score of 20 without going over. You can keep getting cards as much as you like, one at a time, and stand any time. You can use one of the four randomly drawn cards from your 10-card side deck (which you put together before hand) at any time to increase or decrease your current hand. If you go over 20 and have a negative card to play (from 1 through 6), it's possible to bring your total back to, or under 20. You must win three of five games, and you always go first (just happens this way in KotOR). All things being equal, that gives you a slight disadvantage, as you'll end up choosing when to stand more often than your opponent and they can then play to an exact number.
1. The Pazaak side deck you get at the beginning has the worst possible selection of cards (all +1 through +5), so you'll want to upgrade them if you plan on making consistent money with this game.
2. The best cards have both a positive and negative value (+/-) that you can change at will and can either be bought off of various merchants (usually at the very end of their inventory), off of some fallen enemies, or often inside of containers. It's your choice how you want to get them, but I've found plenty to make a good deck via just enemies and containers.
3. Even purely negative cards are better than the positive cards, as you can play for a score close to 20 and still go back if you go over - something that frequently happens to good players.
4. Cards you can get range from +/- 1 through +/- 6. The lower the value, the better it is. You'll want to eventually make a side deck with all +/- cards for obvious reasons. It's up to you how you want to arrange your side deck, but I'd advise at least two +/- 1 through two +/- 4 cards, filling up 8 of your 10 side deck cards. The remaining two cards are up to you, but I'll give some general strategy next. Personally, I'd make the remaining two one +/- 5 and one +/- 6.
The less often you have to play your side deck, the better your chances are for winning. The opposite is also true - if you have more side deck cards left than your opponent, and are tied or winning, your chances are better. For this reason, hold on to them as long as possible.
If you can reach 20 with a side deck card +/- 4 or less early in the game, do so. If you can reach 20 with a side deck card of +/- 5 or +/- 6 late in the game, do so. The reason is this. Early in the game, if you're at 15, generally you'll have a 50% chance of getting a card that's 5 or lower. Don't spend your +/- 5 or +/- 6. You'll probably need them down the road. Better to take the chances, and if you go over, then spend your negative card. Late in the game, your opponent will likely have spent some side deck cards, so it's okay if you take a chance and spend it to make 20.
When your opponent is down to 1 side deck card, if you can make 19 or 20, do so with whatever side deck card you have.
Stand on all natural 19's if your opponent has 3 or less cards. If you can make 20, do so only if your opponent has 4 side deck cards.
Stand on all natural 17's and 18's if your opponent has the same amount or less side deck cards than you (even if you both have 4 - force them to play theirs). The only exception is if this is the last game of the match and you have a decently high negative card of -3 through -6.
These are general tips, and not set in stone, because they are based on "head" statistics, not "hard" statistics.