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Hold 'Em High


Hold ‘Em High is a casino poker game, meaning that it’s derived from classic player vs player poker, but instead the player plays against the house. Specifically Hold ‘Em High is a derivative of the popular Texas Hold ‘Em game, played with a standard 52 card deck. Unlike other casino poker games, Hold ‘Em High has no dealer hand to beat. Instead the player is looking to obtain a hand that qualifies on the game’s paytable. In this sense it’s similar to Video Poker.

We are only aware of Hold ‘Em High being offered at casinos using Microgaming software.

Play Structure

Initially the player places an ‘Ante’ bet and the dealer deals out 2 cards face up to the player. The player than has to decide whether to ‘Call’, ‘Raise’ or ‘Fold’. If the player chooses to Fold the hand is over and they lose the Ante bet. If the player chooses to Call they place an additional wager equal to their Ante bet. If the player chooses to Raise they place an additional wager equal to twice their Ante bet. Regardless of whether the player chooses to Call or Raise, the dealer will the deal out 5 further cards. The player can use any 3 of the 5 cards just dealt, alongside their 2 starting cards to form the best possible hand they can.

Hand Comparison

Hold ‘Em High 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).

* 4 of a Kind – four cards of matching rank (Example - 7 of Hearts, Clubs, Diamonds and Spades).

* 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).

* Flush – five cards of the same suit (Example – Ace, 8, 5, 2 and Queen of Spades).

* Straight – five numerically adjacent cards ignoring suit (Example – 7 of Spades, 8 of Spades, 9 of Clubs, 10 of Diamonds and Jack of Diamonds).

* 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. For Two Pairs to be considered a winning hand the hand must contain at least a Pair of Jacks or higher.


If the player receives a hand that is included on the paytable they will receive payouts as follows;

Hand Paytable
Royal Flush 500 to 1
Straight Flush 100 to 1
Four of a Kind 25 to 1
Full House 10 to 1
Flush 7 to 1
Straight 5 to 1
3 of a Kind or less 2 to 1
Two Pair (Jacks or Better) 1 to 1
House Edge 2.28%

Where you hold a winning hand, all bets placed (Ante and Call or Raise) are paid out based on the above paytable, unlike other table poker games where the often the paytable is only applied to the Ante or Raise bet or only used if the dealer’s hand qualifies.

Side Bet

The Hold ‘Em High game also offer a side bet called the ‘Side Bet’. This side bet is optional but if the player chooses to place it the results are determined from the player’s initial two cards and takes no account of whether the Ante, Call or Raise bets win or lose.

Hand Odds Hand Probabilities Paytable 1
Ace/King of Spades 1 in 1326 0.000754148 50 to 1
Ace/King suited 1 in 442 0.002262443 25 to 1
Two cards same suit 1 in 4.30519 0.232277527 5 to 2
House Edge 8.9744%

Any hand not included in the above paytable loses the Bonus bet.

Optimal Strategy

Firstly, do not play the side bet.

Optimal strategy for this game is unusual in that Hold ‘Em High is only available in a multi-hand format. That being the case it is possible to optimize for play of a single hand, but there’s no good reason for any player to play less than the full 5 hands and utilise the additional card information this makes available. Below we provide a strategy for single hand play – which is relatively straightforward and a calculator for multi-hand play;

Single Hand Play

·         Raise with any pair

·         Raise the following hands suited or unsuited – QJ, QT, JT, J9

·         Call if suited, Fold if non-suited – T5, T4, T3, T2, 94, 93, 92, 83, 82, 72

·         Anything else – Raise if suited, Call if non-suited


Multi-Hand Play

House Edge*

The house edge of Hold ‘Em Bonus across the full round of wagering (Ante and Call or Raise bet) and assuming that the player plays using the optimal strategy discussed above is 2.28% if playing only one hand and ~1.20% if playing five hands. If the player does not play optimally this figure will rise.

The house edge of the Side Bet is 8.9744%.

Fairness Calculator

Unfortunately, due to the non-Normal distribution of the payouts at Hold ‘Em High – specifically the high payout in the main game for a Royal Flush – it’s not possible to offer a fairness calculator that would return meaningful results for Hold ‘Em High.

Winning Strategies


As far as we’re aware Hold ‘Em High is not available offline.


There are several methods of legitimately gaining an advantage playing online Hold ‘Em High 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 and there are no errors in the paytable – will not provide any additional information about the cards and shuffles after every hand.

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

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

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