Real money Casino Holdem has much in common with Texas Hold’em. In fact, its creation in the late 1990s by Stephen Au-Yeung was a direct result of trying to create a training tool for the more popular poker variant. It was showing up in land-based casinos within a few years, and it’s now estimated that over 100 virtual establishments feature the game thanks to software designers such as Galewind and Net Gaming.
If you’re tired of the hectic pace of Texas Hold’em and getting beat by the same online sharks over and over, this game may be more your style. The player competes directly against the dealer, and optional side bets and progressive jackpots are also available.
This article has all you’ll need to get started when it comes to real money Casino Holdem. From a rundown of the rules to tips for finding the best casinos and staying in compliance with the law, players of all experience levels should find something of use on these pages.
Casino Holdem and the Law
If you’re a responsible gambler, one of the first questions you should ask is whether or not you’ll be able to legally enjoy Casino Holdem. While this is something that many simply brush off as a minor inconvenience, breaking gambling laws can get you fined and/or imprisoned in certain parts of the world. As the old saying goes, “Better safe than sorry.”
When I find an online casino that I’m interested in, the first thing I do is test to see if I can access it. Nations with stringent anti-gambling laws are often blocked by the major sites, so their residents see a large warning sign on the screen instead of the expected homepage. If I can reach the site and navigate the various pages, then I know I’m on the right path.
Another option is to consult the terms and conditions page of the casino. This section is filled with all manner of useful information, and a list of banned states, territories, and countries should be among them. If my place of residence isn’t mentioned, then I should be able to play without any sort of legal hassle (since most nations hold the site responsible instead of the player).
If I’m feeling especially cautious, I can also consult the Internet and access state and federal government sites with details on the most important virtual gambling legislation. This is the safest way to approach things, especially since individual states often have wildly differing laws when it comes to playing online.
There’s also the option of consulting a lawyer, but these individuals usually charge an arm and a leg for their time. As long as you’ve tried a couple of the items mentioned above, you should be able to play without fear of the police knocking on your door.
Finding a Reputable Casino
In order to play at an online casino, you’re going to need to open an account and make a deposit. While this can be thrilling by itself, it also exposes you to a vast digital world filled with crooks and con men. Assuming you want to avoid such individuals, it’s important to make certain that your casino can be trusted to provide a reliable experience every time.
The Internet is packed with reviews and opinions of online casinos, although it can often be difficult to separate the wheat from the chaff. Some sites put up strictly positive reviews to help their affiliate relationships, while disgruntled players often post negative reviews that are motivated more by their lack of success than any sort of skullduggery on the part of the gaming establishment.
Whenever I’m considering doing business with a new site, I start by looking at their license and whether or not they’re publically traded. Jurisdictions such as Malta are always a good bet to keep their license holders in line and provide suitable arbitration when problems arise, and virtual casinos traded on a stock exchange have to answer to shareholders for every move they make.
In addition, I also check out a couple of gambling watchdog sites for additional information and unbiased reviews. These entities exist to steer players away from unethical operations, and they’re especially useful for sidestepping rogue sites and those who play the slow-pay game.
Playing for Real Money
When you play Casino Holdem for real money instead of fun, the most noticeable difference is the presence of cash (obviously). While this can knock your bank account down a peg or two, it also provides a level of excitement that free games just can’t match.
The quality of the graphics and sound can also be lacking on free versions, as designers don’t put a lot of time into something that’s not bringing in revenue. Luckily, Casino Holdem isn’t exactly a visually complex game, so it shouldn’t make much difference in the long run.
It should be noted that some free casino software has been designed to provide the player with a winning percentage that’s higher than normal. This is done to convince the customer that they’ve got a knack for the game, which often results in them signing up, depositing money, and then having to face the cold reality of the house edge.
Rules of Casino Holdem
While the rules of this game should be familiar to those who’ve cut their teeth on Texas Hold’em, there are some subtle differences that require an explanation. As always, be sure to read up on the specific rules at your chosen casino, as they can differ slightly from one location to the next.
The object of the game is to create the best possible five-card poker hand by using two hole cards and five community cards. Players can utilize any combination in order to obtain their final hand.
Casino Holdem is played with a standard 52-card deck. The player makes an ante wager to begin a hand, and they also have the option of taking part in a progressive jackpot side bet. Once all initial wagers have been made, the player (along with the dealer) receives two hole cards. Then, three community cards are dealt face-up on the table.
At this stage, the player must decide whether to fold or call. A player who folds is eliminated from the rest of the hand, as well as forfeiting their ante. If the player decides to continue with the hand, their call wager must be double the size of the ante.
Next, the dealer adds two more cards to the community section for a total of five. The dealer then reveals their hole cards.
Just like Texas Hold’em, the two hole cards and five community cards are used to make the best possible five-card poker hand. In order to qualify, the dealer must have a pair of fours or better. If the dealer fails to qualify, the call wager pushes and the ante bet provides an award according to the game’s pay table.
If the dealer manages to qualify and has a superior hand, the player loses both the ante and call wagers. When the player wins, they receive even money on the call bet and an ante payout determined by the pay table. In the case of a tie, both the ante and call bets will push.
The progressive side bet is then resolved, regardless of the outcome of the regular hand. Even if the player folded or lost to the dealer, they may still receive a payout.
Ante Pay Table
The ante pay table can differ from one casino to another, but here are a couple of common versions. The second example is the one used most often.
- Example 1 – Royal flush pays 20 to 1, straight flush pays 20 to 1, four of a kind pays 10 to 1, full house pays 3 to 1, flush pays 2 to 1, and all other hands pay even money.
- Example 2 – Royal flush pays 100 to 1, straight flush pays 20 to 1, four of a kind pays 10 to 1, full house pays 3 to 1, flush pays 2 to 1, and all other hands pay even money.
Before the hand can be entirely resolved, the dealer checks the player’s cards to see if they’re eligible for a payout on their progressive jackpot wager (assuming, of course, that they chose this option). Here are the most common forms of payment:
- Full House – Pays $10
- Four-of-a-Kind – Pays $100
- Straight Flush – Pays 10% of the progressive jackpot
- Royal Flush – Award the entirety of the progressive jackpot to the player
If the player has any other hand, they won’t receive a payout. In fact, this bet pays out less than 50% of the time, although the potential for a massive cash award still manages to keep customers interested.
Casino Holdem Side Bet
At sites powered by Gamesys software, Casino Holdem also comes with an optional side bet known as “AA+.” As the name would imply, the player must get a pair of aces or better in order to receive a payout. This side wager is resolved after the flop and includes the following pay table:
- Pair of Aces – Pays 7 to 1
- Two Pair – Pays 7 to 1
- Three of a Kind – Pays 8 to 1
- Straight – Pays 10 to 1
- Flush – Pays 20 to 1
- Full House – Pays 30 to 1
- Four of a Kind – Pays 40 to 1
- Straight Flush – Pays 50 to 1
- Royal Flush – Pays 100 to 1
Casino Holdem House Edge
Whenever you play at the casino, you’ll be competing against the house edge. This is a percentage that indicates the overall advantage enjoyed by the establishment on a particular game, and these can range from manageable to ridiculous.
For an example, let’s look at a game with a 1% house edge. This percentage is calculated over the long term, so the player can expect to get back 99% of the money they wager. The remaining 1% goes to the casino, which is how they manage to make a profit.
The next time you visit your favorite online gaming establishment, take a moment and look at all the available titles. Each of these is generating a profit over the long term, so it should become quite obvious why the casino business is such a lucrative one.
The pay table has a major impact on the house edge, and that’s certainly true of this game. Here are a few examples based on the previously mentioned ante pay tables: number one carries a house edge of 2.40%, while the second has a slightly superior 2.16%.
So how does the house edge of Casino Holdem stack up against other games you might come across? Here are a few example for the sake of comparison: blackjack (0.28%), pass/come bet in craps (1.41%), Pai Gow poker (1.46%), European roulette (2.70%), and Caribbean stud poker (5.22%).
Best Strategy for Gameplay
Those looking for a rock-solid strategy for this poker variant are likely to be disappointed. Since you’re playing the dealer and not the other players, many of the strategies employed by Texas Hold’em enthusiasts just aren’t that useful. There are, however, a couple of things you can do to improve your chances:
- Avoid Side Bets – The house edge for the ante wager is pretty reasonable, but those numbers aren’t nearly as kind when the player decides to wager on one of the possible side bets. While I understand that a progressive jackpot is tempting, your odds of getting a royal flush are just short of astronomical.
- Only Fold Truly Awful Hands – According to research conducted by those far smarter than myself, the optimal strategy for this game involves folding only 18% of the time. This means the player should continue with anything but the worst possible hands, which is a far cry from the way Texas Hold’em is usually approached.
When you land on the homepage of a casino, you’re likely to notice offers of a sign-up bonus in big, bold letters. This amount is usually awarded to new players who sign up and make their first deposit, and it’s not uncommon for it to match the customer’s sum.
For example, a site offers a 100% matching bonus on a player’s first deposit up to $5,000. If the player deposits the maximum of $5,000, then they’ll wind up with $10,000 in their account.
Here’s where the fine print comes into play, as the player can’t simply turn around and withdraw their “free” money. First, they must meet a wagering requirement, which is usually a multiple of the bonus amount.
The player in the previous example had to meet a rollover requirement of 30x before they were able to withdraw the bonus amount. Since they received $5,000, the requirement totaled $150,000 (or $5,000 x 30). The required amount can result in wins or losses, just as long as the customer puts it on the line.
To make matters worse, the player may also be working against an imposed time limit. These usually range from one to six months, and failure to comply often results in the loss of the bonus, as well as any money earned while playing with the complimentary amount.
In some cases, the bonus amount can never be withdrawn. Instead, it’s meant strictly for online play. I’ve also seen casinos that combine the player’s bonus with their initial deposit to determine the wagering requirement, which demands an even larger investment from the customer.
So why does the casino do this? Well, if they’re going to award money to new customers, they want to make sure they still generate a profit along the way. This might sound cynical and calculating on the part of the casino, but keep in mind that they’re not running a charity.
Games with a high house edge (such as slots) count 100% towards meeting the wagering requirements. Most games, however, may be considerably lower than that, with 60% being a common number. This is where you’ll usually find Casino Holdem.
Paying Your Taxes
Whether you collect $100 or $100,000 from a year of gambling, always be sure to pay any required state or federal taxes. Citizens of Australia are exempt from this advice, but most other readers are likely to live in a nation where taxation on gambling is required. Failure to do so can result in fines or jail time, so make certain that you take a few minutes to keep a record of wins or losses for each session.
Real money Casino Holdem can be found at more than 100 online gaming establishments, and versions have been created by some of the top software developers. It’s similar to Texas Hold’em in many ways, but it’s also more relaxed and offers the added excitement of side bets. Assuming you can legally play in your jurisdiction and are able to find a reliable casino, then you should be able to enjoy numerous sessions with this often overlooked option.