Ultimate Texas Holdem – How To Play Casino Poker
Ultimate Texas Hold’em is one of the more popular casino table games, and it has many similarities to regular poker in regards to poker rules. This is probably why many players are drawn to it.
Ultimate Texas Hold’em is played against the house (not other players), so the house has an inherent edge that can’t be overcome.
However, like its big brother, Ultimate Texas Hold’em does contain certain elements of strategy. While you can’t beat the house, your decisions do matter as they will define just how big of an edge the casino has over you.
Playing the optimal strategy will help you close the gap and make your bankroll last much longer.
If you’ve seen the game in your local casino or online and have been wondering what’s it all about, this article is exactly what you’re looking for.
It will explain all you need to know about Ultimate Texas Hold’em, from basic rules to numbers and strategies you need to know to put yourself in a position to have a fair number of winning sessions along the way.
Ultimate Texas Hold’em Rules
As mentioned, Ultimate Texas can be quite an exciting game, especially if you love poker already and want to have a bit of fun and blow off some steam without having to think too much. Even if you’d never played before, as long as you know poker hand rankings in Hold’em, you’re almost good to go.
Ultimate Texas Hold’em is played against the casino, so you’ll be up against the dealer. There can be multiple players at the table, but that doesn’t change much at all as your only goal is to beat the dealer. Whether other players win or lose is of no significance to you.
The game round begins by you placing two bets:
The size of the blind and the ante is always the same, so if it’s a $1 game, both the ante and the blind will be $1.
There is also an optional bet called Trips. This is a bonus that pays when you make hands that are three of a kind or better according to the fixed paytable (which is explained a bit later in this article).
You’re usually allowed to bet any amount you want on Trips (up to the maximum bet) as this is a bonus wager that’s not directly connected to blinds and antes.
Once you’ve placed your bets, the dealer will deal out two cards to all players, face down, just like in regular Hold’em. They’ll also take two cards themselves. You’re allowed to look at your cards, and you have several options available to you upon doing so:
- Check (passing action until the next betting round)
- Bet 3x the ante
- Bet 4x the ante
If you decide to bet either 3x or 4x after seeing your hand, the dealer will deal the flop, the turn, and the river without you having any further betting options.
Once the hand is over, everybody will turn over their hole cards, and if you have the hand that beats the dealer’s hand, you win.
If you opt to check, the dealer will deal out the first three community cards, i.e. the flop. Once again, you’ll have two options:
- Bet 2x the ante
If you decide to check again, the dealer will deal the final two cards (turn and river), and there will be the final betting round. You’ll now have the option to either bet 1x the ante or fold. You can’t check once the river is out.
Ultimate Texas Hold’em Payouts
In terms of gameplay mechanics, Ultimate Texas Hold’em is quite straightforward. Once you get to the river, all cards are turned over, and the winners are declared based on the standard Hold’em hand rankings.
However, things can get a bit confusing when it comes to payouts, so here’s a quick breakdown of what you need to know before you start.
Dealer’s Qualifying Hand
Like in many other casino poker variations, the dealer needs to make a qualifying hand for the players to win. In Ultimate Texas Hold’em, the minimum qualifying hand is any pair. In the event the dealer doesn’t qualify, ante bets are returned to the player with no profit.
At the start of a hand, you’ll only have the blind, and the ante bet invested. However, by the showdown, you’ll have at least one ante invested in the ‘Play’ field (unless you decide to fold). All bets during the hand are added to the ‘Play’ section.
Once the hand is over, if you beat the dealer and they have the qualifying hand, all your Play bets and the ante bet will be paid at 1:1.
There was another bet you posted at the start of the hand that still needs to be addressed – the blind bet.
“Blind Bet’ is a special type of bet in Ultimate Texas Hold’em that can result in some big wins if you get lucky.
Every time you beat the dealer, the blind bet is returned to you with the rest of the profits. However, if you get lucky and beat the dealer with a hand that’s a straight or better, the blind bet amount will be paid out according to the following Ultimate Texas Holdem payout table.
- Straight pays 1 to 1
- Flush pays 3 to 2
- Boat (full house) pays 3 to 1
- Quads pay 10 to 1
- Straight flush pays 50 to 1
- Royal flush pays 500 to 1
So, as long as you beat the dealer’s hand, your blind bet will either be a push, or you’ll receive the bonus payout according to your hand strength.
As mentioned, Trips bets are completely optional in Ultimate Texas Hold’em, and from the mathematical perspective, they aren’t the best choice as the house edge on them is around 1.9%. However, they can be a lot of fun and add excitement to your sessions.
If you decide to play Trips, you’ll receive payouts based on the fixed table regardless of the outcome of any particular hand.
Payments are based on the strength of your hand alone, so you’ll get paid as long as you make three-of-a-kind or better:
- Trips: 3 to 1
- Straights: 4 to 1
- Flushes: 7 to 1
- Boats: 9 to 1
- Quads: 30 to 1
- Straight flushes: 40 to 1
- Royal flushes: 50 to 1
In some casinos online, you’ll also have an option to play for the progressive jackpot. This is an additional bet that you’ll have to place if you want to have a shot at a jackpot that keeps growing with every bet.
To win the full amount of the progressive jackpot, you’ll need to make a royal flush using your two hole cards and the first three community cards only. A straight flush will usually pay 10% of the jackpot, etc.
Ultimate Texas Hold’em Strategy
Some casino games like slots and roulette are based purely on luck. No matter what you do or how you play, there is nothing you can do to decrease the house edge.
Some others, though, require players to know the correct strategy to keep the house edge at the minimum. Blackjack is the best-known example from the latter group, but Ultimate Texas Hold’em belongs there as well.
Players who already have experience with Texas Hold’em will have a pretty good idea of what to do.
This is especially true for those experienced in heads-up play as you’re always up against the dealer and other players are not a factor.
If you want to learn the math behind Ultimate Texas Hold’em, there are some great calculators out there that can give you an answer for every situation. This article will provide you with some basic tips and strategies, though, which should help you play close to the optimum.
The range of options you have before the flop in Ultimate Texas Hold’em isn’t as wide as that in proper No-Limit Hold’em, so the strategy is much simpler. There are a few simple rules that you can follow, and that will make your life much easier:
- Raise to 4x with all hands containing an Ace
- Raise to 4x with K5o+ and K2s – K4s
- Raise to 4x with Q8o+ as well as Q6s and Q7s
- Raise to 4x with JTo and J8s and J9s
- Raise to 4x with all pairs of 33 or better
There is really never a reason to go for the 3x raise.
If you have a starting hand that’s not in any of the categories above, you can simply check and proceed to try and get some value on the later streets.
Once the flop is out, you’ll once again have to decide whether you want to check or make the 2x bet for value. To really break down the strategy for postflop play to the details, you’ll need to use the calculator but here are a few simple tips to follow:
- Bet 2x on the flop if you have two pair or better, a hidden pair (with one community and one whole card) that’s better than pair of deuces, or four to a flush
- On the river, bet 1x if you have a hidden pair or better or if the dealer has fewer than 21 outs that can beat your hand
Unless you’re completely new to Hold’em in general, you should have a pretty good idea of what poker odds and outs are.
Basically, you need to figure out how many cards in the deck could potentially help the dealer beat your hand. If the number is under 21, you can go ahead and bet for value on the river. Otherwise, you should fold anything weaker than a hidden pair.
Ultimate Texas Hold’em House Edge
Like every other casino game, Ultimate Hold’em has a house edge, i.e., the percentage of every bet that goes into casino coffers, in the long run, no matter what you do.
When compared to the competition, Ultimate Texas Holdem is quite player-friendly.
Depending on the exact rules, the house edge of Ultimate Texas Hold’em is between 1% and 2%. Of course, this is provided you play a game that’s close to optimal. If you make significant mistakes and get overly involved with weak hands, you’ll be losing a fair bit more.
As long as you’re willing to learn some basic strategies, though, and have a decent understanding of the fundamental mathematics of poker, this can be an entertaining game that won’t cost you too much to play.
If you like that, then you should also take a look at 3 Card Poker, which is another casino variant that is easy and entertaining.
Summary: Ultimate Texas Holdem Is A Game To Try
Ultimate Texas Hold’em may not be as complex or as thrilling as the original game, but it is definitely a nice alternative for all poker fans out there.
Featuring a nice mix of strategy, luck, and potential for big wins, this game can be a great way to relax and unwind while still playing poker, albeit in its somewhat simplified version.
Ultimate Hold’em can also be a nice way to sharpen your heads up skills. It will help you develop a better understanding of what hands you can expect to be winners against a random opponent’s hand, for example, which is quite valuable. Of course, you will not learn as much as actually joining one of the best poker training sites, but it could be a good start.
If you feel like trying this game but don’t want to risk any money just yet, there are many sites that offer you a chance to play for free and even provide advice as you play.
So, now that you know the rules of Ultimate Texas Hold’em and have a basic understanding of the game, why not give it a go?