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Casino Hold ‘Em

Introduction

Casino Hold ‘Em is – as the name suggests – a casino poker game (also sometimes called Caribbean Hold ‘Em). This means that while it takes its routes in traditional poker games, when playing Casino Hold ‘Em the player plays against the house rather than other players.

Played with a standard 52 card deck, the player places an ‘Ante’ wager then the dealer deals out 2 cards to the player, 2 cards to the dealer and 3 Community Cards (cards placed in the centre of the table). The player’s cards and community cards are dealt face up whilst the dealer’s cards are dealt face down. The player then has two choices; to ‘Call’ or ‘Fold’. If the player chooses to Fold they discard their hand, lose their Ante bet and the round is over. If the player chooses to Call they have to place a bet twice the size of their Ante bet and two further Community Cards are then dealt. After this the dealer’s hand is revealed.

Hand Comparison

Casino Hold ‘Em ranks hands according to a hierarchy common to poker games which is explained below (strongest to weakest);

* Royal Flush – The Ace, King, Queen, Jack and Ten cards all of the same suit.

* Straight Flush – five numerically adjacent cards of the same suit (Example – 4, 5, 6, 7 and 8 of Diamonds). Where both the player and dealer hold a Straight Flush the hand with the highest card is considered the winner.

* 4 of a Kind – four cards of matching rank (Example – 7 of Hearts, Clubs, Diamonds and Spades). Where both the player and the dealer hold 4 of a Kind the hand with the higher rank is considered the winner.

* Full House – three cards of the same rank and two cards of a different but matching rank (Example – 8 of Hearts, Clubs and Diamonds and Jack of Spades and Hearts). Where both the player and dealer hold a Full House, the hand with the higher rank 3 of a Kind is considered the winner.

* Flush – five cards of the same suit (Example – Ace, 8, 5, 2 and Queen of Spades). Where both the player and dealer hold a Flush the hand with the highest card is considered the winner.

* Straight – five numerically adjacent cards ignoring suit (Example – 7 of Spades, 8 of Spades, 9 of Clubs, 10 of Diamonds and Jack of Diamonds). Where both the player and dealer hold a Straight the hand with the highest card is considered the winner.

* 3 of a Kind – three cards of the same rank with 2 unmatched cards (Example – 9 of Spades, Clubs and Hearts with any two other cards that are not the 9 of Diamonds or a matching pair).

* Two Pairs – two sets of two cards of matching rank with one unmatched card (Example – 4 of Clubs and Hearts, 8 Clubs and Spades and a fifth unmatched card). Where the player and dealer both have two pairs, the hand with the highest pair is considered the winner. If both hands have matching top pair, the higher of the two lower pairs is considered the winner. Where both pairs are matched, the hand with the higher ‘Kicker’ (final unmatched card) is considered the winner.

* Pair – two cards of matching rank with three unmatched card (Example – 6 of Clubs and Hearts and any three other cards that are not the six of Spades or Diamonds and are not of matching rank). Where the player and the dealer hold a matching pair, the hand with the highest Kicker card wins. If the Kicker also matches, the hand is decided by the second Kicker then the third if the second Kickers also match.

* High Card – any five unmatched cards ranked as the highest card (Example – 5 of Spades, 9 of Clubs, 7 of Clubs, 2 of Hearts and Ace of Diamonds would be considered ‘Ace High’).

In the instance where both the dealer and player have hands of matching value by the above table (normally occurring when the 5 Community Cards are the best hand for both the player and the dealer), the hand is considered a push and the player’s bets are returned.

How the results are decided

Both the player and the dealer use their own two cards, alongside the five community cards to make the best possible 5 card hand (ignoring the two cards that are least beneficial).  The results of the game are then decided as follows;

1) If the dealer has a hand consisting of a pair of 4s or better they are considered to have ‘qualified’. If the dealer does not qualify any unfolded player hand is paid.

2) If the dealer has qualified the hands are compared are compared using the table above and the stronger hand wins.

Payouts

Where the player’s hand wins the following payouts are awarded.

If the dealer does not qualify the player’s Ante bet is paid while their Call bet is returned.

If the dealer does qualify and the player’s Call bet is paid at 1 to 1.

In both cases the Ante bet is paid at 1 to 1 unless the player has a hand listed in the below paytable in which case the player receive the following payout on the Ante bet;

 Hand ProbabilitiesStandardGameSys
Royal Flush0.000001539100 to 1100 to 1
Straight Flush0.00001385120 to 149 to 1
4 of a Kind0.00024009610 to 117 to 1
Full House0.0014405763 to 13 to 1
Flush0.0019654012 to 12 to 1
House Edge 0.82%XXX

The RealTime Gaming version of Casino Hold ‘Em – called ‘Caribbean Hold ‘Em’ – pays the Ante bet out at 1 to 1 if the dealer does not qualify. This increases the House Edge to 1.17%.

AA Bonus Side Bet

The vast majority of Casino Hold ‘Em games also offer a side bet called ‘AA Bonus’ which is decided separately to the main hand. Some casinos will allow you to play this bet without wagering on the main bet, but most require you to wager on the Ante bet to play AA Bonus.

The AA Bonus bet is very straight forward; using both player cards and the first 3 Community Cards if the resulting hand contains a Pair of Aces or better the AA Bonus bet is paid as per the following paytable;

 Hand ProbabilitiesPlaytech/PlayNGo/Boss Media*/GamesOS/GameScale**Net EntertainmentGameSysRealtime Gaming
Royal Flush0.000001539100 to 125 to 1100 to 1Jackpot
Straight Flush0.00001385150 to 125 to 150 to 110% of Jackpot
4 of a Kind0.00024009640 to 125 to 140 to 1500
Full House0.00144057630 to 125 to 130 to 1100
Flush0.00196540120 to 125 to 120 to 175
Straight0.0039246467 to 17 to 110 to 1
3 of a Kind0.0211284517 to 17 to 18 to 1
2 Pair0.0475390157 to 17 to 17 to 1
Pair of Aces0.0325053097 to 17 to 17 to 1
Jackpot Range NA NANA 28639-123389
Breakeven Value NANA  NA158566.42
House Edge 6.26%6.40%2.97%22.40-50.11%

*Boss Media are part of the GTech group of companies. This group was found to be running unfair card games in 2012 and as such we would not recommend playing with any casino using this software.

** We do not recommend playing with any GameScale casinos due to player issues and other disreputable behaviour.

Otherwise the player’s AA Bonus bet is lost.

Calculating the House Edge for the RealTime Gaming Jackpot Bet

It is possible calculate the House Edge for any Jackpot value for the Realtime Gaming Jackpot bet. Simply multiply the paytable values by the Hand Probabilities and subtract all the remaining possibilities. So for a Jackpot of 142000 the calculation would be as follows;

142000×0.000001539 + 14200×0.000013851 + 500×0.000240096 + 100×0.001440576 + 75×0.001965401 – 0.996338537

0.218538 + 0.1966842 + 0.120048 + 0.1440576 + 0.147405075 – 0.996338537
-16.9605662

So the House Edge for this Jackpot value is 16.96%

Optimal Strategy

The optimal strategy for Casino Hold ‘Em is not easily simplified. Below you will find a Hand Analyser that will define the correct play for any given hand combination. The Hand Analyser can also be set to RealTime Gaming’s Caribbean Hold ‘Em rule and GameSys’ alternative paytable.

House Edge*

The house edge of Casino Hold ‘Em using the standard paytable and across the full round of wagering (both Ante and Call bet) and assuming that the player plays using the optimal strategy listed above is 0.82%. If the player does not play optimally this figure will rise.

The house edge of the AA Bonus bet using the standard paytable is 6.26%. As player decisions cannot impact the Pair Plus bet this figure is constant.

For further information regarding the house edge for both the main game and the Pair Plus bet when the paytables are varied see Beating Bonuses (http://www.beatingbonuses.com/casinoholdem.htm).

Fairness Calculator

Below you can find a calculator to allow you to check the fairness of your wins/losses when playing Casino Hold ‘Em.

*This fairness calculator will assume that you’ve been playing with the optimal strategy detailed above. If you have not then the calculator will NOT return accurate results.

History

Casino Hold’Em was initially developed in the late 1990’s by Stephen Au-Yeung as a tool to teach his then partner how to play Texas Hold ‘Em. This tool was later developed into the game now known as Casino Hold ‘Em and was first demoed in offline casino in Egypt, South Africa and Russia in 2000. In 2002 it was put on display at the International Casino Exhibition in London and has since expanded to the point where it is widely available both on and offline.

Winning Strategies

Offline

Unlike Blackjack the techniques used to gain an advantage over the game of Casino Hold ‘Em in the offline environment are not nearly so widely discussed. Gaining information on dealer’s hole cards – be that via shuffle tracking, edge sorting, steering or hold carding – can produce a player advantage as long as the information is used to alter the player’s Fold/Call strategy. With perfect knowledge of both dealer hole cards the strategy is trivial – Call any winning hand and Fold any losing hand – though it may be worth playing some losing hands to avoid unusual/suspicious folding decisions where you hold a strong hand. Even if playing the AA Bonus bet at the same time, as this bet is resolved before the playing decision is made, this should not impact the player strategy. With imperfect knowledge of two cards or knowledge of only one card the strategy is more complex.

The rarity of the game in the offline environment, the specific circumstance required to be able to obtain the required information and the high skill level involved ensure that only the most diligent of professional players are ever likely to come across this information and it should be emphasized that the risks involved in gaining less than perfect information are likely to be substantial.

The best source of information on how best to play with additional information can be found in James Grosjean’s ‘Exhibit CAA: Beyond Counting’.  While the author does not directly examine Casino Hold ‘Em, he does provide enough information that the more mathematically inclined reader could derive the correct strategy. This book is widely considered the Bible for the professional player and as such is not a worthwhile investment for anyone other than a full time professional Advantage Player (not to mention it requires a professional reference to obtain).

Online

There are several methods of legitimately gaining an advantage over the online Casino Hold ‘Em games. By and large these involve the use of promotions, bonuses and comp point systems as the games by themselves – assuming the game is functioning in a correct fashion – will not provide any additional information about the cards and shuffle after every hand.

It should be noted that online advantage play is not specific to Casino Hold ‘Em and in recent years the wagering requirements for player’s choosing to play any table game has inflated to the point that Casino Hold ‘Em is now often a sub-optimal choice for the player. For more information on beating online casinos see BeatingBonuses.com.

* All ‘House Edge’ figures in this article are based on the ‘loss per unit wagered’ rather than ‘loss per initial bet’.