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Casino Holdem Guide: A Simpler & Faster Alternative to Texas Holdem

Do you like Texas holdem?

Then chances are you’ll like casino holdem. Here’s why:

Both games are similar in terms of game play. You’re given two cards, which you’ll use with the 3 community cards to make the best 5-card poker hand possible.

So if you’re at all familiar with Texas holdem, then you’ll be at home playing the casino version.

But there’s one key difference.

You play against the dealer. You’re not playing against the other players at the table.

This can be a good thing. If you’ve ever played live poker before, then you know what I’m talking about. Poker players often take a long time – counting cards, doing math, Hollywooding and hemming and hawing – before they make a decision.

And yet, that’s one of the greatest benefits to casino holdem. You’re not playing against anyone other than the dealer …and there are very few decisions to make.

We’ll cover this in more detail when we cover the rules. Just know that, if you’re looking for a poker-like table game that’s simple and fast, you ought to give this game a shot.

 Who Invented Casino Holdem?

Stephen Au-Yeung invented casino holdem in 2000.

Prior to inventing casino games, he was a successful advantage gambler and poker player. He won quite a bit of money and titles gambling. One example is the British No Limit Championship in 1992.

He decided to develop casino games because he felt his gambling skills were limited to either poker cash games or tournaments. It sounds like he needed a change of pace, a new challenge.

This specific game came about while trying to create an interesting way to teach his girlfriend how to play Texas holdem. It took him about 6 months to go from concept into a fully workable game.

He first called it Holdem Against the House. And Stephen launched it in 2000.

But it took him nearly a decade to see any traction in live casinos. It first appeared in countries like Egypt, Russia and South Africa. And it was licensed for use in the United Kingdom in 2007.

Today the Gaming Supplies Company markets the game. You’ll find it in more than 100 live casinos, and more than 1,000 online casinos.

Stephen didn’t stop there, though. He’s created several games since. Here are some of the games he’s created or is developing right now:

  • Casino Hold’em® Progressive (Caribbean Hold’em™).
  • Block Pro® Blackjack-Progressive.
  • Lucky-Draw Baccarat®.
  • Casino Omaha™
  • Blackjack Block®.
  • Roulette Link-Bets®.

And some of his upcoming games include:

  • Roulette-18®.
  • Second-Hand Blackjack™.
  • Casino Hold’em® War™.
  • Jackpot-Streets® (Roulette Side-bet).
  • Trip Cards® Draw-Poker
  • Raise’em® 3-card Draw-Poker.
  • Top-Draw Blackjack®.
  • Bacca® (Baccarat game).
  • Odds-Win® Blackjack (Blackjack Side-bet).
  • Ten20™ (Blackjack Side-bet).
  • Red-Black Win™ (Baccarat Side-bet).

You can see more of his games at NewTableGames.com. He claims to have added more than 100 to his library since launching casino holdem in 2000.

In his spare time, Stephen likes to perform chip tricks. He has more than 100 different tricks recorded.

How Do You Play Casino Holdem?

The game’s simple to learn. Here’s how you play.

  • Start by making your ante bet. This bet’s mandatory.
  • The dealer will give both you and him two hole cards face down.
  • Next he’ll deal 3 community cards face up in the middle of the table.

At this point you’ll have two choices. Based on the strength of your hand, you can either raise or fold.

  • If you fold, you give up your hand and ante bet. The dealer automatically wins.
  • If you raise, you’ll need to make an additional bet. This needs to be 2x your ante bet.

For example, if your ante bet’s $5, your raise will need to be $10. You’ll have $15 total out on the table.

  • After your raise, the dealer will deal a turn and river community card. There will be 5 community cards total on the table.
  • The dealer will flip over his hand. Then both hands are compared.

The dealer must have a pair of fours minimum to qualify. If his hand doesn’t qualify, he pays the ante bet according to the payout table. And your call bet will push.

If the dealer’s hand qualifies, both your hands are compared. Whoever has the strongest hand – using traditional poker hand rankings – will win.

  • If the dealer has a stronger hand than yours, he wins. You lose both your ante and raise bet.
  • If the dealer has a weaker hand than yours, you win. You will be paid 1:1 on your raise bet and per the payout table on your ante bet.

The payout table will vary from casino to casino. Here are some common payouts you’ll find.

HANDS TABLE 1 TABLE 2 TABLE 3 TABLE 4
Royal Flush 20 25 100 100
Straight Flush 20 25 20 49
4 of a Kind 10 12 10 17
Full House 3 3 3 3
Flush 2 2 2 2
All Other 1 1 1 1

All values are on a ‘to 1’ basis.

  • If you both have the same hand, you tie. The bet’s a push. You will receive both your ante and raise bet back.

Then all bets are paid out or collected. That’s the end of a round of casino holdem.

Are There Any Variations or Side Bets?

There aren’t as many casino holdem variants or side bets compared to other casino games. Here are the most common options we know of.

Zero House Edge – The name’s sort of a lie. This has a house edge of 0.35% because the player pays a 10% commission on any net wins he has per session. A session is a period of 1 hour with no bets, or 24 hours, whichever happens first. You can find this at casinos using Gamesys software.

Interesting Fact:

The Wizard of Odds said the owner of casino holdem told him that Gamesys is using his game without permission.

AA+ – This pays on the poker value of your hand after the flop. Here are the payouts:

HANDS TABLE 1 TABLE 2 TABLE 3
Royal Flush 25 100 100
Straight Flush 25 50 50
4 of a Kind 25 40 40
Full House 25 30 30
Flush 25 20 20
Straight 7 7 10
3 of a Kind 7 7 8
Two Pair 7 7 7
Pair of Aces 7 7 7
House Edge 6.40% 6.26% 2.97%

Progressive Side Bet – This is a $1 side bet that pays all or a portion of the progressive jackpot depending on your poker hand. Here are the payouts:

Hand Rank Description
Royal Flush 100%
Straight Flush 10%
4 of a Kind $500
Full House $100
Flush $75

Those are the only variants and side bets we know of. Do you know of any? Then we’d love to hear from you!

What’s the Most Optimal Strategy?

The Wizard of Odds says there’s “no easy way to quantify optimal strategy for this game.”

He goes on to say optimal strategy will include raising 82% of the time. You should fold only the worst 18% of hands you’re dealt. This means folding hands like:

  • 72o
  • 84o
  • 92s
  • 52s

And so on.

It’s simple. If you have two low cards which aren’t strong – even if you pair them – or if you have no way of making a flush or straight, then fold your hand.

This approach results in a 2.16% house edge.

A great way to learn what the bottom 18% of hands looks like is to play with Poker Stove. This program isn’t updated anymore. But you can find the more recent version here. This tool helped hundreds or thousands of poker players learn hand ranges and equities.

But that’s not how you’re going to use it.

What we suggest you do with it is play the slider to find the top 80% of hands. Then ignore them. Memorize the last 20% of hands instead. These are the hands you’ll fold in casino holdem, except for occasional 4 cards to a flush or open ended straight draw.

If you prefer the strategy laid out for you, here it is:

  • Always call with a pair or better.
  • Always call with ace or king high.
  • Call with queen or jack high unless the board contains cards of the same suit that don’t match your queen or jack.
  • Always call with a straight or flush draw.
  • Always call with two over cards.
  • Fold if the board is paired and you have no cards that match the suit or over cards bigger than 10 – unless you have a straight or flush draw.

That’s all there is to it.

Experts also recommend playing casino holdem over the copycat Caribbean holdem. Because the difference between two games is if the dealer doesn’t qualify (in Caribbean holdem), you get paid 1:1 instead of the amount listed on the payout table. This raises the house edge from 2.16% to 3.09% – nearly a 50% increase!

Playing Casino Holdem Online

Due to licensing and trademark rights, casino holdem isn’t available at many online casinos.

But Caribbean holdem is. Real Time Gaming produces this version. The games are identical except for the ante bet – in Caribbean holdem the ante pays 1:1 if the dealer doesn’t qualify, instead of paying per the ante bonus table.

Worse yet – nowhere do they disclose these rules.

For this reason, it makes sense to play casino holdem whenever possible. You’re more likely to find it at licensed and regulated online casinos. The types of casinos who do things by the book.

It’s also at these types of casinos where you’ll find live dealer casino holdem. According to LiveDealer.org, you’ll find this option at casinos running on Playtech, Evolution Gaming and Microgaming software.

Those casinos include:

Playtech

  • Bet365
  • Paddy power
  • Betfair
  • Ladbrokes
  • Titan casino

Evolution Gaming

  • William hill
  • 888 casino
  • Bet Victor
  • Unibet

Microgaming

  • Betway

One other thing to keep in mind – this is a poker game. Every casino has terms about playing poker games while clearing their bonuses. They’ll either prohibit you from their bonus or inflate your wager requirements.

Look at Euro Grand, for example. They inflate their rollover requirements 400%. Slots players need to wager 40x to clear their bonus.

But casino holdem players?

They’ll need to wager 160x to clear their bonus …and that’s before they’re allowed to request a cash out.

This means many bonuses may not be worth your time. The only way to know for sure is to read our reviews for rollover requirements, then decide how long you’re willing to go before cashing out your winnings.

That’s up to you. Our only advice is this – the newer or less trustworthy a casino, the more apt you should be to pass on the bonus. To do that, all you need to do is send a support request before you make a deposit.

Conclusion

This is one of our shortest game guides. But that just shows how simple and straightforward casino holdem is.

You only have 2 decisions to make. Far less than you’ll have in a traditional holdem poker game.

You won’t have to deal with other players, either. Or the bad beats. Or learning proper poker strategy.

Just memorize the rules and the few strategy tips we posted earlier and you should be fine. From there you’ll be able to enjoy the simple and fast-paced game known as casino holdem.

FAQ

The following are answers to commonly asked questions we receive about casino holdem.

Are there any tools for learning optimal casino holdem strategy?

You can try a strategy calculator.

What you’ll do is plug in your hand and the community cards. Then hit “calculate.” The calculator will process the information and then tell you what the best play is.

Some calculators will also tell you what your EV (expected value) is for both raising and folding. That way you can see how close a decision it is, and how much money you can expect to lose/win in the long run.

These are a great way to learn optimal strategy. Especially if you play online, for free, at sites like Bovada or Ignition Casino.

Here’s one calculator that gives you both the optimal strategy and odds of hitting specific hands.

What is Casino Holdem Bot?

This appears to be a program that was once available for purchase on the website, Casibot.com. It’s no longer available for sale.

This program – according to them – evaluates each casino holdem hand and tells you the best strategy to use.

They say this program can handle upwards of 200 hands/hour. The focus seems to be on playing the best possible way in order to “bonus bag” or for “bonus bagging.” This is the first we’ve heard this term, but it sounds like another way of saying bonus hunting or bonus whoring.

From what we understand, the idea is to use this program to beat casino holdem and clear online casino bonuses (but only at Playtech powered casinos you have to download).

We don’t recommend using programs like this for a couple of reasons:

  • There’s a good chance the casino you’re playing at doesn’t allow them. If you’re caught, you might not be able to cash out your bonus money or winnings, regardless if the bought was used to help win that money or not.
  • Casinos usually frown on bonus hunting or bagging too.
  • All the strategy you need to know is in our strategy section above. You can also use the calculator we linked to earlier. In other words, you don’t need to buy anything.

And, ultimately, you’re going to have to play LOTS of hands before you can clear any deposit bonus since many casinos reduce the value of table game wagers.

How do you cheat at casino holdem?

The only time you can cheat is when you play live. We don’t recommend cheating for moral reasons, obviously, but also because the consequences are often severe if you’re caught.

The only ways you can cheat are either by marking cards, edge sorting or if you can somehow catch a peek at the dealer’s cards.

Marking cards is cheating, no doubt about it. But edge sorting or peeking at the dealer’s cards is simply taking advantage of the casinos’ errors. Where those fall on the moral compass is up to you.

The goal of knowing what the dealer has is so you can determine if your hand is stronger than his, so you can make the decision to raise or fold.

Unless you mark the cards yourself, both edge sorting and your dealer being sloppy will be totally random and not something you can or should count on.

It’s a much better use of your time to learn proper strategy, or to learn a game where you have more control over the outcome.

Is casino holdem beatable?

No.

The Wizard of Odds (WizardOfOdds.com) says there’s no quantifiable strategy. Between that and a house edge of 2+ percent, it sounds to us as if there’s no way to beat the house straight up.

That said, if you can play using perfect strategy and collect comp points, it might be possible to breakeven through free meals, cash back, free rooms and other perks.

What about betting systems? Would the martingale betting system work?

Betting systems – no matter the system, or the game you use it on – works. In fact, that’s part of the problem. Betting systems are the same, no matter the game you’re playing. This means you’re not altering or improving the odds for casino holdem.

The bottom line – betting systems don’t work.

Have a question we didn’t answer? Email us and let us know!