Casino Hold’em is a game based on the popular Texas hold’em style of poker, but you play this game against the dealer instead of other players. It’s a very easy game to learn, but strategy can be pretty complex, which is a combination that creates a high level of popularity, particularly among poker fans. Learn how to win at Casino Hold’em in this tutorial and find the best online casino to play at in the top list below.
Introduction to Casino Hold’em
In the early 2000s, there was a big poker boom that led to tons of people getting in on the action with no-limit Texas hold’em. This explosion in popularity is tied to the rise of Casino Hold’em because it’s based on what is still the most popular form of poker in the world.
With that having been said, it’s been simplified down to the point that players are only concerned with trying to get ahead of the dealer instead of having to outplay other people at the table, and that’s something that appeals to those who might not want to spend a ton of time and energy sharpening their skills at a card game.
There is a very serious skill element to Casino Hold’em that allows for a bit of strategy, but it’s not the end of the world if you misplay some of the hands because the simplified style of the game makes it difficult for the house to get a huge edge, even if you make some strategic mistakes.
The History of Casino Hold’em
In the late 1990s, Texas hold’em in its fixed-limit form was already fairly popular and was one of the most popular poker games. An individual by the name of Stephen Au-Yeung created a training exercise for someone he knew that the person could play out on their own with a deck of cards to get better at reading the flop and other basic skills. By the year 2000, this training exercise had been reworked into a casino game and had been given the name Casino Hold’em that it still has today.
In its current form, you can find Casino Hold’em tables in land-based casinos on several continents as well as in tons of online casinos. There are some minor differences between the way these games are implemented, particularly online, but most of them don’t really affect any player decisions or where to play. While there are exceptions to this rule that we’ll point out down below, players don’t have to worry about those small differences all that much.
The Rules and Gameplay
If you already know how to play Texas hold’em, then you’ll find it easier to learn how to play this game than if you do not. As such, we’re going to break things down a little into basic terminology and the gameplay procedure so that it’s easier to understand for players who may not be familiar with hold’em-style poker games.
We want to specifically point out that you do not need to know how to play any poker games at all to be able to learn how to play Casino Hold’em. However, if you’re one of the players coming at this game completely fresh, then you’ll want to review how the rules work very carefully to avoid any potential confusion on payouts and strategy.
Five-card Poker Hand Rankings
Offline and online Casino Hold’em tables will rely on groups of five cards that make certain types of poker hands. These hands have a ranking system to determine which hand wins when two or more of them go head-to-head. While you’ll only need to be able to compare two hands in this game, the same principles apply of how the rankings work.
Here is a brief description of the hand rankings in descending order of strength. Your given hand will be whichever set of cards that matches what you hold that’s highest on the list:
- Royal Flush – A hand of AKQJT all in the same suit.
- Straight Flush – Five consecutive cards all in the same suit (eg: 98765 all of spades).
- Four of a Kind – A hand that contains four cards of the same rank (the fifth card doesn’t matter, eg: QQQQx).
- Full House – A hand with three cards of one rank and two cards of another (eg: TTT55).
- Flush – Five cards of the same suit in no particular order (ie: QT754 all of hearts).
- Straight – Five consecutive cards where the suits don’t matter (ie: QJT98 or 76543).
- Three of a Kind – A hand with three cards of the same rank (the other two cards don’t matter, eg: 555xx).
- Two Pair – When a hand holds two sets of two cards of matching ranks (the fifth card doesn’t matter, eg: 9944x).
- One Pair – A hand with one set of two cards of matching rank (the other three cards don’t matter, eg: JJxxx).
- High Card – A hand that does not match any of the above (eg: AJ762 of non-matching suits).
Along these lines, a flush beats a straight, a full house beats three of a kind, etc.
Regarding Equivalent Hand Rankings, Ties and Pushes
If two players have the exact same five cards, then it’s a tie. At the Casino Hold’em tables, a tie means a push. However, there are lots of situations where players can have the same hand rankings without it ending up as a tie because there is a tie-breaking system built into how the hands are compared.
With straight flushes, flushes and straights, the highest card in the hand determines the winner. For example, a 98765 straight beats a straight of 76543, and a flush of A9873 beats a flush of KQJ87.
With four of a kind, three of a kind and one pair hands, the rank of cards in question for the hand determines the winner. If those are the same, the player with the highest “other” card, called a kicker, determines the winner.
In a full house, the player with the set of three cards that is the highest wins. If that’s the same between the hands, then the player with the highest pair to go along with it wins.
Finally, in two pair hands, the highest individual pair wins, which means that AA22xx beats KKQQx. If the higher of the two pairs is a tie, then the winner is determined by the second pair. If both pairs are the same, the winner is determined by the kicker.
With an understanding of how the poker hand rankings work, playing Casino Hold’em online gets a lot easier and more intuitive. The following is how the game actually plays out:
- Players start by making a wager called the ante. At this point, if there is a progressive jackpot side bet, that wager can be made as well, but it’s virtually always optional.
- Cards are dealt: The player and the dealer each receive two cards called the “hole cards” with the dealer’s hole cards being face-down. Three cards are also dealt face-up across the center of the table, which is called the flop as a part of the “board” or community cards.
- Players then decide between folding and raising (sometimes referred to as “calling” instead at some tables) based on the cards in front of them. A fold means that you give up your ante and any chance of winning the hand. If you raise, then you add an additional wager called the raise that’s worth twice the size of the ante. Note that the choice between folding or raising is the only strategic decision in the game.
- If the player raises, then two additional community cards are added to the board (called the turn and river, respectively), and then the bets are resolved.
The above describes the actual gameplay procedure. That’s separate from how the winners and payouts are determined, which we’ll go into here:
- Bets are resolved based on the best player and dealer hands that can be made. The respective hands are decided by the best five-card combination decided between the five community cards and the two hole cards given to each respective player. The dealer cannot use the player’s hole cards, and the player cannot use the dealer’s hole cards, but the five community cards can be used by both or either.
- If the dealer’s best possible five-card hand is not worth at least a pair of fours, then he does not qualify. This means that the raise is returned to the player and the ante is paid according to the ante tables we discuss below, which is worth at least 1:1, no matter what the player’s cards are (ie: the player could have a worse hand than the dealer).
- If the dealer does qualify with at least a pair of fours, then the player and dealer hands are compared. If the player wins, then the raise pays at 1:1, and the ante pays according to the tables below.
- If the dealer qualifies with a hand that beats the player’s hand, both the ante and raise are lost. Ties result in a push, and both bets are returned to the player.
The important thing to remember, and something that new Casino Hold’em poker players often get confused by, is that the payouts for the raise are always 1:1, but the payouts for the ante bet can vary though they’re always 1:1 at a minimum.
The Standard Ante Pay Table
There is a standardized pay table for the ante bets, but it’s not always followed. Much like games like video poker, there can be some serious variation in the payouts. The following show what the standard Casino Hold’em pay table looks like:
- Royal Flush or Straight Flush – 20:1
- Four of a kind – 10:1
- Full House – 3:1
- Flush – 2:1
- All Remaining Hands – 1:1
While you’ll always get at least 1:1 no matter where you’re playing, some software providers and even some land-based games will have pay tables that are a bit more favorable. This usually comes in the form of a larger bonus payout for a royal flush. You might not hit them all that often, but it’s worth the extra value when you do.
Strategy and Tips
Strategy for Casino Hold’em as a whole is a bit more nebulous than it is for more discrete games like video poker or blackjack because of the nature of the dealer and player sharing the community cards. As such, it’s basically impossible for a player to learn to be perfect at this particular game.
However, that doesn’t mean that you will have to deal with a huge house advantage. Following some straightforward advice can help you get the most out of your sessions while still having a lot of fun trying to come out ahead of the dealer with your decisions.
Game Selection for Online Players
A very important topic for people who want to enjoy Casino Hold’em online is the actual selection of the tables they play with, which can vary a bit between different software providers. A lot of the variation comes in the form of what the ante pay table looks like, though that can largely depend on the individual casinos as well. This is important because it can drastically change the house edge to a very, very serious degree.
There are two special cases of Casino Hold’em games online that we want to point out as being notable for being on the extreme ends of this variation:
- The Realtime Gaming software offers this game under a different name: Caribbean Hold’em. It’s almost the exact same game with one big change: If the dealer doesn’t qualify, then the ante always pays 1:1 instead of paying according to the ante pay table. This leads to a much, much higher house advantage, making it one of the worst table games in casinos that use their software package.
- The Gamesys software has a version of this game called Casino Hold’em With Zero House Edge. There are two changes to this game compared to the standardized rules. First, the royal flush payout on the ante pay table is 100:1 instead of 20:1, which is a significant improvement. Second, in exchange for this, players give up 10 percent of their win on winning session. This results in a house edge of less than one-half of a percentage point with good play, and it’s where you’ll find the best casinos for Casino Hold’em as a whole.
For comparison, most players who are fairly skilled at this game with the standard rule set and ante pay table will get a house advantage in the range of 2.5 percent.
Strategy for Raising and Folding
Because there are so many factors that go into the decision to raise or fold, it’s not really possible to give a straightforward strategy chart like what you can get in certain other casino table games. Instead, we have to rely on some basic information that’s been found with computer analysis and extrapolate from there.
The first thing to know is that you should be raising about 82 percent of the time. This number was found with computer analysis of the millions of different possible card combinations that can come up between the nine cards dealt in total (two to the player and dealer each, five to the board). You can track how many times you raise or fold over your sessions with tick marks on a piece of paper or something similar, and if you’re raising too often or too little, then you’ll be able to see it and try to adjust.
In terms of which types of hands to fold, it should really be the worst of the worst. You will never fold a hand that has made at least a pair on the flop unless both of the cards that make up the pair are on the flop, and you hold two cards lower than all of the card on the flop with no chance to make a straight or flush.
For all of your high-card hands on the flop, you should always raise if you have a chance to make a straight or a flush with just one card to go. If you have two cards that are lower than all of the cards on the board with no flush or straight chances, then those are hands bad enough to go ahead and fold. Those examples will give you a decent idea of what to look for, but remember that it’s hard to always know if you’re right or wrong with how you play in marginal cases.
Live Dealer Casino Hold’em Online
Playing live Casino Hold’em tables online adds a degree of social environment to the table that you might miss when playing the more standard games. You’ll often see side bets or progressive jackpots added to the games as well, and that’s something that makes it stand out as being a bit different.
Almost all live tables for this game will have the same standard pay table, but some may have slightly higher wins for royal flushes or even straight flushes. This means you don’t have to worry about one of the software developers or game providers trying to pull a fast one on players like Realtime Gaming does with their “Carribean Hold’em” game.
Something you can see sometimes at the live tables is players discussing strategy, and if you’re looking to really sharpen up your game, it’s not a bad option. Players can discuss the pros and cons of playing different types of hands in different ways, and you can get a lot of ideas to think about on your own as well.
The Jumbo 7 Progressive Jackpot
Evolution Gaming’s Casino Hold’em tables offer a special progressive jackpot side bet. This results in the largest live casino progressive jackpot payouts that you’ll find anywhere online, and it also gives players a number of available wins for making other types of hands. To play this jackpot side bet, you’ll need to wager an additional €1 alongside your normal wagers at the tables. It has the following prize structure:
- Seven Cards to a Straight Flush – Win the progressive jackpot
- Six Cards to a Straight Flush – 5,000:1
- A Normal, Five-card Straight Flush – 250:1
- Four of a Kind – 50:1
- Full House – 5:1
- Flush – 4:1
- Straight – 2:1
- All Other Hands – No payout
Something cool about this Casino Hold’em side bet is that there are plenty of regular wins for a variety of hands, which helps to lower the volatility and give you more instances where your side bet pays off with an immediate win.
The popularity of online Casino Hold’em, particularly in live games with the chat feature, is that the element of strategy is different than what you find in pretty much any other online casino table game. There’s a lot of room for making up your own mind about whether you should raise or fold, and even though there’s only one decision to be made once the cards are dealt, it’s a decision that has to be made while taking a whole lot of information into account.
Aside from the strategic element, there are also a lot of different side bets and progressives available, and that will draw players in who like a lot of extra action in addition to the regular game. Just make sure that when you’re picking out the game that you think is a best fit for you that you avoid the RTG-powered “Caribbean Hold’em” game and its super-high house edge like the plague.