How to Play Casino Hold’em

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If you’ve played Caribbean Hold’em, the wildly popular table game based on Texas Hold’em, chances are you’ll love Casino Hold’em. The games are essentially identical, aside from one crucial difference to be explained below.

That difference makes Casino Hold’em a much more favorable game in terms of house edge though, so if you’re ever given the choice between playing Caribbean Hold’em and Casino Hold’em, definitely choose the latter.

Part of the new wave of hybrid table games that has re energized casino floors and online gaming venues all over the world, Casino Hold’em is a perfect blend of Texas Hold’em poker and blackjack. Facing off against the dealer, players take two card hands and combine them with a three card flop to make the best possible five card poker hand. After that, it’s up to you to make the best decision as to calling or folding, and after two more community cards are dealt, your hand is compared to the dealer’s to determine the winner.

What makes Casino Hold’em special, however, is the prospect of lucrative bonus payouts for making big hands. Just like in a regular game of Texas Hold’em contested among players, you should be rewarded for forming hands like four of a kind or the straight flush, and Casino Hold’em makes sure you always are.

Perfect for players who love poker and blackjack, but are also looking for something new, Casino Hold’em provides a nonstop rush of action and excitement. And as a skill based game, you’ll be able to use your understanding of the game’s strategic elements to reduce the house edge.

This guide was written for new players who have only recently discovered Casino Hold’em. As such, basic rules and terminology will be explained in detail, and you’ll even be walked through the mechanics of an actual Casino Hold’em hand. After that, the game’s optimal strategy will be broken down so beginners can take the next step towards expert level play.

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How to Play

A hand of Casino Hold’em begins when players make their mandatory ante bet. This can be in any amount you choose, from $1 on up to $100 or higher, but most players begin with $1 or $5 wagers. Once players have anted up, the dealer will distribute two cards face up to the player, and two cards face down to themselves, alternating as they do so. This will be followed by three community cards dealt face up in the center of the table, and this is known as the flop.

Players combine their two hole cards with the flop to make the best possible five card poker hand. The standard hand ranking system used in poker is also in play during Casino Hold’em, so one pair beats high card, two pair beats one pair, three of a kind beats two pair, and so on.

The objective of the game is to assess the strength of your five card hand after the flop, before deciding whether or not to fold or to call. Folding is simply a surrender of your cards and your original ante bet. Calling requires you to place an additional wager equal to exactly twice the amount of your ante bet. So when you ante $5 and like your hand after the flop, calling costs you an additional $10.

After players have folded or called, the dealer will then deliver two more community cards alongside the flop. Players still in the hand then combine their two hole cards with the five community cards on board to form the best possible five card poker hand.

One thing to keep in mind is that, just like in Texas Hold’em, you can play either one or both of your hole cards to form a hand. For example, if you hold the Q – 3 in your hand, and the five community cards run out 2 – 4 – 5 – 6 – K, you need only play the 3 in your hand along with the 2 – 4 – 5 – 6 on board to form a 2 – 3 – 4 – 5 – 6 straight. Another instance in which one card can be used rather than two occurs when four cards of the same suit arrive on board. Should you see four hearts out there, you only need one heart in your hand to make a flush.

The dealer then exposes their own hole cards to see the strength of their best five card hand, with the highest hand between the player and dealer deemed the winner.

Casino Hold’em Table

The dealer’s hand must reach a pair of fours or better in order to qualify in Casino Hold’em, and the dealer must qualify to beat the player. When the dealer doesn’t qualify the player’s ante bet will be paid out according to the ante payout chart (pictured below), while their call bet is returned as a push.

This is the crucial difference between Caribbean Hold’em and Casino Hold’em. The former game only pays the ante bet out at 1 to 1 when the dealer doesn’t qualify, costing the player significantly over the long run.

When the dealer does qualify and the player makes the best hand, the ante bet is paid out according to the table below based on the ranking of the player’s hand while the call bet is paid out at 1 to 1. For example, if you place a $10 ante bet and call by wagering an additional $20, making a full house would result in a $30 (3 to 1) payout on your ante bet, and a $20 even money win on the call bet.

To try out a few hands of Casino Hold’em without spending a penny, this useful tool replicates the experience of playing the game in an online casino to a tee. You can place wagers, assess your hand strength, and decide on a fold or call all within a few seconds, and after a few minutes playing around here, you’ll be ready for the real thing.

The chart below depicts the ante payouts most commonly used by online casinos.

Hand Rank Description Raise Odds
Royal Flush A, K, Q, J, 10 of same suit 100:1
Straight Flush 5 cards of the same suit in sequence 20:1
4 of a Kind 4 cards of same rank 10:1
Full House 3 of a Kind, plus a pair 3:1
Flush 5 cards of same suit 2:1
Straight 5 cards in sequence, mixed suits 1:1
3 of a Kind 3 cards of same rank 1:1
Two pair 2 pairs of different rank 1:1
One pair 1 pair (2 cards) of same rank 1:1
High card 3 cards of same rank 1:1

Proper Strategy

Offering players a relatively low house edge of just over 2 percent, Casino Hold’em is definitely a player’s game provided you stick to a few strategic guidelines.

The first thing to remember is that side bets are considered sucker bets for a reason. So even though the progressive jackpot and A A side bets might be beckoning you to put a few bucks down, just remember that the house edge balloons to 6 percent or higher when you do. By abstaining from all side bets during a session of Casino Hold’em, you instantly reduce the house edge to a more palatable 2 percent, giving you much greater expected value over the long run.

Statistical analysis of the game has shown that it’s correct to fold just 18 percent of the total hands you see. That means four out of every five hands dealt should be considered call worthy according to basic strategy. The trick is determining which hands to fold and which hands to play.

A simple rule of thumb holds that you should be folding whenever you hold low, unconnected cards and the flop fails to bring you a pair, or a draw to the straight or the flush. For example, if you receive the 2h and the 6s as hole cards and the flop comes 10 – J – A, bringing no possible straights or flushes for you, the hand should be folded without hesitation.

On the other hand, you’ll often encounter unpaired flops when you happen to hold over cards to the board, and in this case it’s advisable to continue. Say you’re dealt the Ah and the Kc, but the flop comes down 3 – 5 – 7 rainbow. You haven’t paired up yet, but your ace – king high actually rates to be best against the dealer’s random hand, and you still have two cards to come that can give you a strong pair. This would be a case where you’d want to call and continue even after missing the flop.