Casino Hold’em Basics
As with most forms of casino poker, the aim of a round of Casino Hold’em is to build the best possible five-card poker hand using a combination of player cards and community cards. You will also have the chance to win more through side bets, and these shall also be explored later on.
A round starts with the placing of the ante bet. The dealer then deals the player two cards face up and the dealer two cards face down. Next, the Flop is dealt, three community cards to the centre of the table.
This is the point where strategy comes in, as you have to assess the value of your cards. You will be looking to build the best possible hand using your two cards (the hole cards) and the three community cards. You then have the choice of two actions:
- Fold – Surrender your hand and sacrifice your ante bet
- Call – Place a second bet that is double the size of the ante bet and continue playing
If you choose to call, then a further two community cards are dealt. The fourth card is the Turn and the fifth is the River. You then have to use your cards in combination with the five community cards to build the best possible five-card poker hand.
At this point, the dealer reveals their hidden cards and the person with the strongest hand wins. However, the dealer needs to qualify, which means that they must be holding at least a pair of 4s. If the dealer does not qualify, then your call bet is returned as a push and the ante bet is paid out according to the ante bet pay table. If the dealer qualifies but you have the better hand, then the call bet pays 1:1 and the ante bet is paid according to the pay table.
The ante bet pay table may vary slightly depending on the game that you are playing but it would typically be something like this: Straight or Lower 1:1, Flush 2:1, Full House 3:1, Four of a Kind 10:1, Straight Flush 20:1 and Royal Flush 100:1.
Casino Hold’em Side Bets
It is important to understand the side bets that are on offer in Casino Hold’em as they can form a vital part of your strategy. Most games offer a bet called the AA+ or the Pair Plus. The bet is decided as soon as the Flop has been dealt and it wins if the player’s hole cards and the first three community cards form particular poker hands.
A typical pay table for the AA+ bet may be: Pair of Aces or Higher 7:1, Flush 20:1, Full House 30:1, Four of a Kind 40:1, Straight Flush 50:1 and Royal Flush 100:1.
Some Casino Hold’em games also offer a progressive jackpot side bet. The bet is decided by the player’s hole cards and all five community cards. It is completely separate from the ante bet and it can even be won if the player chooses to fold after the Flop. In most cases, the progressive jackpot is won for a Royal Flush and a percentage of the jackpot, such as 10%, can be won with a Straight Flush. Some games will also offer fixed payouts for other hands.
Casino Hold’em Strategy
As with nearly all card games, there is an optimal strategy for Casino Holde’m. However, there is no easy way to quantify it as the best decision for each hand is based upon the combination of seven cards. It cannot be explained with a series of rules; however, it is possible to find calculators that will tell you the best decision in every scenario.
However, you can get very close to optimal strategy by following a reasonably basic set of rules. It will take practise to perfect the technique, but it is far from impossible. Optimal strategy shows that players should fold on roughly 18% of hands and call on the remaining 82%. The following rules will help you determine which decision you should make.
You should Call in the following situations:
- When you have a pair
- When you have an open-ended straight draw (this means that you are lacking just one card from either end of a Straight).
- Any Ace-high or King-high (this means that your high card is an Ace or a King)
- Any Flush draw (this is where you need just one of the final two community cards to complete a Flush).
- With 2 over-cards (this is where you have cards that rank higher than the cards in the flop).
- With a Jack-high or a Queen-high (if your Jack/Queen is the high card), unless the flop cards are all of the same suit and don’t match the Jack/Queen.
You should Fold in the following situations:
- If you have low unpaired cards (no cards that match the community cards and no cards worth more than 10, unless you have a straight draw or a flush draw).
- If the flop cards are a pair, but your cards are a different suit.
Further strategies involve careful bankroll management. For instance, it is advised to keep the ante bet relatively small in relation to the size of your bankroll. Remember that you will be calling on approximately 82% of hands, which means that you will regularly be placing bets that are double the size of your ante. In other words, even if you place an ante bet of just €1, most of the time you will be betting €3 per hand. Therefore, if you start with a large ante bet, you run the risk of burning through you bankroll very quickly.
You should also treat the side bets with caution. Some people will recommend that you never place them. If you follow the strategy explained above, then Casino Hold’em has a relatively small house edge of around 2.16%. However, if you place the AA+ side bet, the house edge increases to between 6.26% and 6.40%. In other words, it triples in size. However, this doesn’t mean that you shouldn’t use it. Ultimately, it adds excitement to each hand and there is a chance that you could win. It simply requires that you factor this in when planning your budget. The same can be said for the progressive jackpot side bet. While it is hard to win, if it is budgeted for, then it is a great way of making the game more exciting.
Casino Hold’em is not a complicated game but it has a very complicated optimal strategy. You can open a strategy calculator on your computer and use it for every hand. However, this quickly becomes laborious and it will remove a lot of the fun from playing. If you follow the strategy tips explained above, then you will come very close to optimal strategy. They take very little time to learn and they will allow you to play at a rapid pace. Start practicing and with a bit of luck, you will soon see your Casino Hold’em winnings start to grow.