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Ultimate Texas Hold ‘Em

Introduction

Ultimate Texas Hold ‘Em 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 Ultimate Texas Hold ‘Em is a derivative of the popular Texas Hold ‘Em game, played with a standard 52 card deck, where both the player and the dealer are dealt 2 hole cards and 5 community cards are dealt, with both parties using their own cards and the 5 community to make their best possible 5 card hand.

We are only aware of Ultimate Texas Hold ‘Em being offered online at casinos using Amaya software.

Play Structure

Initially the player places an ‘Ante’ and ‘Blind’ wager – which are equal – and the dealer will deal out 2 hole cards to the player and themselves. The player is then allowed to view their hole cards and decide whether to ‘Check’ their bet (bet nothing more at this point) or place a ‘Play’ bet of either 3 or 4 times the value of their Ante bet. If the player Checks the dealer will deal 3 of the community cards. The player is then given the option to Check or place a Play bet of 2 times the value of their Ante bet. If the player Checks the final 2 community cards are dealt and the player is presented with a final decision to either ‘Fold’ or place a Play bet equal to their Ante bet. Folding ends the hand and give up the Ante and Blind bets. At any point during the round if the player places a Play wager all undealt community cards will be dealt out and the round will be concluded.

Once any Play bet has been placed and the 5 community cards have been dealt out both the player and the dealer select the 5 cards from their own hole cards and the 5 community cards that will give them the strongest hand. Regardless of the situation – even if the player and dealer are tied – the 2 cards that are not used in the player or dealer hands are never considered. The hands are then compared to decide the winner.

Hand Comparison

Ultimate Texas 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. Where the highest card is matched the second highest is consider and so on.

* 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.

Payouts

As with many other poker based casino games, there is a qualification hand for the dealer to play. As such payouts vary depending on whether the dealer qualifies or not. The dealer qualifies if their hand is a Pair or better.

If the player loses all bets placed are lost. If the player wins payouts are decided as follows;

* If the Dealer does not qualify the Ante pushes whilst the Play bet is paid at 1 to 1. The Blind bet is paid by the paytable below only if the player has a Straight or better, otherwise the Blind bet pushes.
*If the Dealer does qualify the Ante and Play bets are paid at 1 to 1 while the Blind bet is paid by the paytable below only if the player has a Straight or better, otherwise the Blind bet pushes.

HandPaytable
Royal Flush500
Straight Flush50
Four of a Kind10
Full House3
Flush1.5
Straight1
3 of a Kind or lessPush
House Edge0.53%

Trips Bet

The Ultimate Texas Hold ‘Em games also offer a side bet called the ‘Trips’ bet. This side bet is optional but if the player chooses to place it the results are determined from the two player hole cards and the community cards only and takes no account of whether the Ante, Blind or Play win, push or lose.

We are aware of 2 possible paytables for the Trips bet and they are as follows;

HandHand Probabilities Paytable 1Paytable 2
Royal Flush0.000032325050
Straight Flush0.0002785074040
Four of a Kind0.0016806723030
Full House0.02596102288
Flush0.03025494176
Straight0.0461938245
3 of a Kind0.04829869733
House Edge3.50%1.90%

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

Optimal Strategy

The player should never take the Trips bet.

The Optimal Strategy for Ultimate Texas Hold ‘Em is markedly complicated after the first Check/Play decision. With the initial decision where it is correct to Play you should never take the 3xAnte Play option and always opt for the 4xAnte option.

The Play option should be selected in the following circumstances;

– Where you hold a Pair of 3s or better.
– Where you hold a suited hand of A2 or better, K2 or better, Q6 or better or J8 or better.
– Where you hold an unsuited hand of A2 or better, K5 or better, Q8 or better or JT or better.

All other hands should be Checked.

For subsequent decisions you can use the strategy calculator below to determine the correct strategy.

House Edge*

The house edge of Ultimate Texas Hold ‘Em across the full round of wagering (Ante, Blind and Call bet) and assuming that the player plays using the optimal strategy discussed above is 0.53%. If the player does not play optimally this figure will rise.

The house edge of the Trips bet varies depending on the paytable but is either 1.90% or 3.50% at the online casinos we’ve encountered this game.

For further information regarding the house edge for both the main game and the Bonus see Beating Bonuses (http://www.beatingbonuses.com/texasholdem.htm).

Calculating the House Edge for the Trips Bet

It is possible calculate the House Edge for different paytables for the Trips bet. We are aware that there may be some alternative paytables available online, but we have not encountered them.

To calculate the House Edge we multiply the Paytable values by the probabilities, sum the results and subtract the remaining possibilities. So if we have the following paytable the calculations would be as follows;

HandHand Probabilities Paytable 1
Royal Flush0.00003232200
Straight Flush0.00027850740
Four of a Kind0.00168067230
Full House0.0259610228
Flush0.0302549416
Straight0.046193824
3 of a Kind0.0482986973
House Edge3.50%

200×0.00003232 + 40×0.000278507 + 30×0.001680672 + 8×0.025961022 + 6×0.030254941 + 4×0.04619382 + 3×0.048298697 – (1-(0.00003232 + 0.000278507 + 0.001680672 + 0.025961022 + 0.030254941 + 0.04619382 + 0.048298697))

0.001616 + 0.01114028 + 0.05042016 + 0.207688176 + 0.181529646 + 0.18477528 + 0.144896091 – (1 – 0.152699979)

0.782065633 – 0.847300021 = -0.065234388

So the House Edge for this paytable would be 6.52%

Fairness Calculator

Unfortunately, due to the non-Normal distribution of the payouts at Ultimate Texas Hold ‘Em – 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 Ultimate Texas Hold ‘Em.

Winning Strategies

Offline

Unlike Blackjack the techniques used to gain an advantage over the game of Ultimate Texas Hold ‘Em in the offline environment are not nearly so widely discussed. Gaining information on dealer’s hole cards or the community cards before they would naturally be revealed – be that via edge sorting, steering or hold carding – may produce a player advantage as long as the information is used to alter the player’s Check/Play strategy.

The rarity of the game in the offline environment (you’ll find Ultimate Texas Hold ‘Em Bonus in gambling meccas or bigger casinos, though not the number of table options offered by other games), 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. In fact, given the complexity of the Optimal Strategy it’s unlikely that even given the right opportunity a player skilled enough to be able to beat Ultimate Texas Hold ‘Em couldn’t find a better game to play.

Online

There are several methods of legitimately gaining an advantage playing online Ultimate Texas 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 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 Ultimate Texas Hold ‘Em and in recent years the wagering requirements for player’s choosing to play any table game has inflated to the point that Ultimate Texas 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’.