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A Beginner’s Guide to Casino Hold’em

An Introduction to Casino Hold’em 

Poker is a hugely popular game but it relies on two things, first having people to play with and second, being prepared to win money from those people. If you are a fan of the game but you don’t have people to play with or you are unwilling to play with them, then Casino Hold’em is a fantastic solution. 

Casino Hold’em is based upon the classic game of Texas Hold’em, it requires you to build a hand consisting of player cards and community card, but you are playing against the casino. Since it was introduced around two decades ago, Casino Hold’em has become incredibly popular with players, both online and at land casinos.  

How to Play Casino Hold’em 

The game is very simple to play and if you have ever played poker before then you will get to grips with it in no time at all. You start a round by placing your Ante bet. After doing so, the dealer deals two cards to you and two cards to himself or herself. The dealer’s cards are dealt face down while the player’s are dealt face up. Next, the dealer deals three community cards face up to the centre of the table, these cards are called the “Flop”.  

This is the point where you can begin to assess the value of your hand. You are looking to make the best possible five card hand using the two hole cards (those dealt to you) and the community cards.  

It is also when you have to make your first decision. You can choose to Fold, which means you surrender the hand and lose your Ante bet, or you can Call, which means that you can place a second bet equal to twice the Ante bet and continue playing.  

If you chose to Call, then the dealer deals a further two community cards. The fourth card is known as the “Turn” and the fifth is the “River”. You can then use your two cards and the five community cards to make the best possible poker hand. 

Finally, the dealer reveals their two cards and you will be paid out if you have the better hand. There are a few additional things that you need to know. If the dealer is to qualify then their hand must contain at least a pair of 4s. Otherwise, your ante bet will be paid out according to the Ante bet pay table and the call bet is returned to you as a push. Assuming that the dealer’s hand qualifies but you have the stronger hand, then your Ante bet is paid out according to the pay table and the Call bet is paid at 1:1. 

The exact payout for an Ante bet will vary from game to game but an example pay table might be: 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 Poker Hands 

While the rules of the game may be very simple, success is contingent upon you understanding the different types of poker hands and spotting possibilities after the Flop has been dealt.  

From strongest to weakest, here is an explanation of the different winning hands in Casino Hold’em:  

  • Royal Flush – This is the best possible hand and it consists of the cards 10, J, Q, K and A all from the same suit.  
  • Straight Flush – This is five cards from the same suit in numerical order; for example, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8 of Diamonds. 
  • Four of a Kind – This is a hand that contains four cards of the same value, such as 4 Diamonds, 4 Clubs, 4 Spades, 4 Hearts. The fifth card in the hand is called the “kicker”, and if two players have identical Four of a Kinds, the higher ranked kicker decides who wins.  
  • Full House – This is a hand that contains three of a kind and a pair, for example, three 10s and two 7s, the suit is irrelevant.  
  • Flush – This is a hand of five cards of the same suit, for example, 3, 6, 9, Jack and Ace of Diamonds. 
  • Straight – This is five cards in numerical order, regardless of suit. For example, 5 Hearts, 6 Spades, 7 Diamonds, 8 Hearts, and 9 Clubs 
  • Three of a Kind – This is three cards of the same value and two unrelated cards. For example, 3 Hearts, 3 Clubs, 3 Diamonds, 10 Spades and King Hearts. 
  • Two Pair – This is a hand that contains two separate pairs of cards and one unrelated card. For example, Ace Hearts, Ace Clubs, King Spades, King Clubs, 7 Diamonds. 
  • Pair – This is a hand that contains two matching cards and three unrelated cards. For example, King Spades, King Hearts, 6 Diamonds, 4 Diamonds, 2 Clubs.  
  • High Card – If a hand does not contain any of the above, then it is judged according to the highest value card in it. 

It should be noted that with hands such as Pair, Three of a Kind and Four of a Kind, when both the player and the dealer have the same type of hand, then the one with higher value cards will win. For example, a pair of Queens beats a pair of 7s. 

Casino Hold’em Side Bets 

Very often, Casino Hold’em games offer some side bets that give players the chance to win even more. The most common side bet is the AA+, also known as the Pair Plus. The bet is decided after the Flop (the dealing of the first three community cards). It wins if the player cards and the community cards form certain hands.  

A typical pay table 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 will also offer a progressive jackpot side bet. The bet is based upon the player’s two hole cards and the five community cards, so it completely separate of the results of the regular Ante bet. It is also separate to the dealer’s hand and it can still be won even if a player decides to Fold after the flop. Normally, 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 when the side bet has been placed.  

Casino Hold’em Strategy 

As with all card games, there is a Casino Hold’em optimal strategy. However, it is complex and takes a long time to memorise. If you are looking to get started quickly, then there are a few basic rules that you can learn that will help you maximise your returns. 

The optimal strategy shows that players should call on a massive 82% of hands (and fold just 18% of them). When followed it reduces the house edge to just 2.16%. Here are some basic rules to help you learn when to call or fold: 

  • Call when you have a pair 
  • Call if you have an open-ended straight draw (this means that you are missing just one card from either end of a Straight).  
  • Call any Ace-high or King-high (this means that your high card is an Ace or a King) 
  • Call any Flush draw (this is where you need just one of the final two community cards to complete a Flush). 
  • Call with 2 over-cards (this is where you have cards that rank higher than the cards in the flop). 
  • Call 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.  
  • Fold 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).  
  • Fold if the flop cards are a pair, but your cards are a different suit.  

Beyond following these rules, it is also a good idea to keep your Ante bet low. Remember, that if you do Call (which you will be doing very often), it requires you to place a second bet that is double the Ante. This means that if you start with an Ante bet of €1, the Call bet will be €2, so you will be betting a total of €3. If you are not careful, you will find that the bets start to add up very quickly and you could burn through your bankroll. 

You should also be careful about placing the AA+ side bet. While it does appear to be very attractive and it offers some very big payouts, it is a gamble and it increases the house edge from around 2.16% all the way up to between 6.26% and 6.40%. Just by placing the side bet, you are tripling the house edge. While it is fine to place it for fun occasionally, and you may even win, ultimately, it is a very risky bet to place.  

To Conclude 

Casino Hold’em is a fantastic game and a brilliant alternative to regular poker. The game does not take long to learn, but it does require careful study of the different poker hands and becoming familiar with them. Similarly, the basic strategy explained here does not take long to understand, but it will take some practise to internalise it. However, if you do follow all of the above tips, then you will be able to have hours of fun playing and hopefully enjoy a great deal of success.  

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