Ultimate Texas Hold’em is a fun way to play America’s favorite poker variant in both live and online casinos. Among the card-based table games in New York, Ultimate Texas Hold’em is a favorite of many.
Sometimes called Casino Hold’em or Texas Hold’em Bonus, the table game invites players to play a hand of hold’em against the dealer, as in blackjack. Thus, unlike traditional no-limit hold’em games in which you sit at a poker table and play against other players, in Ultimate Texas Hold’em it is just you against the house.
Read on for an overview of where and how to play Ultimate Texas Hold’em in New York, including rules, payouts, and strategies.
How to play Ultimate Texas Hold’em
Ultimate Texas Hold’em resembles regular poker. The game uses traditional poker hand rankings. There are different betting rounds, much as in standard hold’em. You also have two hole cards plus five community cards that you and your opponent (the dealer) use to make your five-card poker hands.
That said, the game plays a little differently. Read on to learn how a hand unfolds.
Ultimate Texas Hold’em rules
Here is a quick, step-by-step explanation of Ultimate Texas Hold’em gameplay.
Step 1: Place your ante and blind bets.
Before any cards are dealt, you must make two bets: an ante and a blind bet. You can bet any amount you like within the table limits, but both of these bets have to be of equal value.
There’s a side bet you can make at this point called the trips bet—on whether you’ll make three-of-a-kind or better—but that’s optional. There is a minimum and maximum for this bet, and the payouts for winning are different, too (as explained below).
Step 2: Two hole cards are dealt.
Next, both you and the dealer receive your two hole cards dealt face down as in regular hold’em.
Step 3: You decide whether to add a 3x or 4x play bet.
After looking at your hole cards, you have the option to make what is called a play bet. This additional bet can be worth either 3x or 4x what you wagered for the ante and blind bets. It is sort of like raising before the flop, increasing the stakes of the hand. If you don’t want to make the play bet, you just check, and the hand proceeds.
Step 4: The flop is dealt, and you decide whether to add a 2x play bet.
The dealer then deals the first three community cards, a.k.a. the flop. If you didn’t make the play bet before, you have another chance to make an additional play bet, this time worth 2x your ante and blind bets. Note that you are the only one doing any betting in this poker game. The dealer isn’t betting or raising back.
Step 5: The turn and river are dealt, and you decide whether to fold or add a 1x play bet.
Now, the dealer goes ahead and deals the fourth and fifth community cards, a.k.a. the turn and the river. Unlike in regular Texas hold’em, both the turn and river are dealt at the same time.
At this point, all the cards have been dealt. You know your full hand and how strong it is. If you still haven’t made any play bets, you have one more decision to make. You can fold your hand (and lose your bets), or you can make one last 1x play bet and see if your hand beats the dealer’s hand.
Step 6: Show cards, and settle bets.
If you haven’t folded, now you and the dealer both reveal your hole cards. Here’s hoping you have made a better hand than the dealer and double the money you’ve wagered. If you’ve made an especially strong hand, you can win even more. Read on for an explanation of the payouts in Ultimate Texas Hold’em.
Betting rounds in Ultimate Texas Hold’em
Just to review those betting rounds, here they are again:
- Before the deal, place ante and blind bets, and the optional trips bet if desired.
- After hole cards are dealt (preflop), make a 3x or 4x play bet or check.
- After the flop is dealt, make a 2x play bet or check.
- After the turn and river are dealt, make a 1x play bet or fold.
Ultimate Texas Hold’em hands
When it comes to comparing your hand against the dealer’s, Ultimate Texas Holdem uses the same hand rankings used in traditional poker. Here are those hand rankings, ranked from best to worst:
- Royal Flush — A, K, Q, J, 10 of the same suit (e.g., A♠️-K♠️-Q♠️-J♠️-10♠️)
- Straight Flush — five consecutive cards of the same suit (e.g., J♦️-10♦️-9♦️-8♦️-7♦️)
- Four of a Kind — four cards with the same rank (e.g., Q-Q-Q-Q-10)
- Full House — three cards of one rank and two of another (e.g., J-J-J-3-3)
- Flush — five cards of the same suit (e.g., Q♣️-9♣️-5♣️-4♣️-2♣️)
- Straight — five consecutive cards (e.g., 10-9-8-7-6)
- Three of a Kind — three cards of the same rank (e.g., 5-5-5-K-10)
- Two Pair — two sets of pairing cards (e.g., J-J-4-4-K)
- One Pair — two cards of the same rank (e.g., 9-9-A-Q-K)
- High Card — five unmatched cards with hand value ranked highest-to-lowest (e.g., A-K-10-9-8 is “ace-high”)
That said, the dealer has an additional limitation that can affect the payouts. The dealer must make at least a pair in order to have a qualifying hand. If the dealer doesn’t make a pair, your ante bet is considered a “push” and is returned to you. But the blind and play bets remain in play.
Ultimate Texas Hold’em payouts
Let’s talk about how much you can win in Ultimate Texas Hold’em.
Ante and play bet payouts
As noted, if a hand makes it to showdown and the dealer has not made at least a pair, the ante bet becomes a push and is returned to you. Otherwise, your and the dealer’s hands are pitted against each other. Whichever has the highest value wins the bets in play.
If you win, the ante bet and whatever play bet you made each payout 1-to-1 (or even money). In other words, you double your money for those winning bets. But if the dealer’s hand beats yours, you lose your ante and play bets
Blind bet payouts
However, the blind bet pays out only according to your hand’s strength. Here’s the pay table for the blind bet:
- Royal Flush — 500-to-1
- Straight Flush — 50-to-1
- Four of a Kind — 10-to-1
- Full House — 3-to-1
- Flush — 3-to-2
- Straight — 1-to-1
If you make less than a straight but still beat the dealer’s hand, then the blind bet is a push and you get your bet back. Incidentally, if you make one of these hands and the dealer actually beats you (e.g., you make a straight but the dealer makes a flush), it doesn’t matter; you still get the blind bet payout.
Trips bet payouts
We mentioned the trips bet above. It’s that bonus bet that is entirely optional. These are extra bets on the chance of making a strong hand, namely three of a kind or better (hence the name “trips bet”). Here are the payouts for trips bets:
- Royal Flush — 50-to-1
- Straight Flush — 40-to-1
- Four of a Kind — 30-to-1
- Full House — 9-to-1
- Flush — 7-to-1
- Straight — 4-to-1
- Three of a Kind — 3-to-1
Notice how the trips bet payout is less than the blind bet payout for a royal flush or a straight flush, but more for the lower-ranked hands on the list.
Progressive jackpot payouts
Sometimes casinos will offer yet another side bet in Ultimate Texas Hold’em, giving you a chance to win all or some of a progressive jackpot. Typically the stakes for this bet are fixed. You have only a couple of choices (e.g., $1 or $5).
If you make a royal flush, you usually win all of the jackpot (100%). If you make a straight flush, you usually win part of the jackpot (e.g., 10%). Since the jackpot increases every time someone bets into the progressive jackpot and loses, the prizes can get quite big.
Note: The progressive jackpot bet is only on your two hole cards and the first three community cards (the flop). You have to make the hand using those five cards only (more difficult than making a hand using all seven cards).
Incidentally, some casinos also have what they call a hole card bonus. This is yet another side bet you can make on just your two hole cards. With the hole card bonus, you can win big payouts for ace-queen suited, ace-king suited or pocket aces, plus a really big payout if you and the dealer both get pocket aces (which is, of course, super rare).
Sample Ultimate Texas Hold’em hand
Ultimate Texas Hold’em payouts might sound a little complicated, but they really aren’t. Think of the ante and play bets as being wagers on whether your hand beats the dealer’s. Then, think separately of the blind bet as being mostly a bet on your making a big hold’em hand (and if you don’t, you get the wager back if you can still beat the dealer).
Let’s say you play an Ultimate Texas Hold’em hand and start out betting $5 for the ante and blind bets. You get dealt A♠️-A♥️ and decide to make a 4x play bet worth $20. The board ends up coming out A♣️-4♣️-9♦️-9♠️-2♥️, giving you a full house (aces over nines). The dealer shows K♦️-9♣️ for three of a kind (three nines), which means the dealer has a qualifying hand.
You double your money for both the ante ($5) and play bets ($20), winning $25. You also win another $15 on your blind bet for making a full house, which pays 3-to-1.
Now, what if you had made a trips bet at the start of this hand? You would have won yet another 9-to-1 payout for your full house on top of these winnings. Thus, if you had placed a $5 trips bet, add another $45 to your win for the hand.
Ultimate Texas Hold’em house edge
As with all casino games, the house has an edge in Ultimate Texas Hold’em. The edge comes from the payouts not quite being equal to the probabilities of winning or making certain hands.
Calculating the Ultimate Texas Hold’em house edge is possible but a bit complicated. With the play bets, you can bet different amounts (from 4x down to 1x), and that changes the house edge. So does your playing an optimal strategy (which minimizes the edge) versus a loose and reckless one (which helps the house even more).
If you play a smart strategy and make correct decisions, the house edge on the ante bet is only about 2.2%. However, when you make additional bets that each pay 1-to-1, that can reduce the house edge to about 0.5%—again, if you play an optimal strategy.
Meanwhile, the house edge on those trips bets depends on the given pay table. For the standard one described above, the house edge for trips bets is around 1.9%, but in some cases, you’ll see trips bet pay tables that make the house edge more than 6%.
Ultimate Texas Hold’em strategy
Much like with blackjack, Three Card Poker, Let It Ride or other casino card games, knowing basic Ultimate Texas Hold’em strategy can improve your chances of winning. The strategy for Ultimate Texas Hold’em is actually a bit complicated, but we can boil it down to a few key recommendations for how to bet on each round.
- Preflop — Bet the max (4x, not 3x) whenever your hole cards contain a pair, any ace, any suited king, K5o+ Q6s+, Q8o+, JTo, J9s, J8s; otherwise check.
- Flop — If you haven’t made the play bet yet, you can bet the flop (for 2x) with four to a flush (when one card is at least a 10), two pair or better, or any pair 3-3 or better (as long as it uses one of your hole cards); otherwise check.
- River — Bet 1x with any pair that uses one of your hole cards or any hand better than a pair; otherwise fold.
Follow those tips and you’ll better your chances of winning at Ultimate Texas Hold’em online and at live casinos.
Live dealer Ultimate Texas Hold’em
Some online casinos offer live dealer Ultimate Texas Hold’em for real money. This combines the convenience of playing online with the ambiance of sitting at a casino table. As the name implies, a live casino dealer handles all the action and plays against you. That said, all of the rules and decisions are quite similar to the regular online version of the game.
Usually, live dealer Ultimate Texas Hold’em is offered as a “one-to-many” game where there is one dealer who is playing against many players at once. That said, it still looks as though you are the only one at the table. Evolution Gaming has created the most popular version of live dealer Ultimate Texas Holdem. The game includes a live chat option that enables you to interact with other players and with the dealer as the game proceeds.
Though largely identical to the regular online game, live dealer Ultimate Texas Hold’em can be fun for those seeking to add a social element to their online play.
Where to play Ultimate Texas Hold’em in New York
All New York retail casinos feature Ultimate Texas Hold’em among their available table games. You’ll readily find the game at each of these NY properties:
- Akwesasne Mohawk Casino (Hogansburg)
- Del Lago Resort & Casino (Waterloo)
- Seneca Allegany Resort & Casino (Salamanca)
- Seneca Buffalo Creek Casino (Buffalo)
- Seneca Niagara Resort & Casino (Niagara Falls, NY)
- Point Place Casino (Bridgeport)
- Resorts World Catskills (Monticello)
- Rivers Casino & Resort (Schenectady)
- Tioga Downs Casino Resort (Nichols)
- Turning Stone Resort Casino (Verona)
- Yellow Brick Road Casino (Chittenango)
New York has yet to introduce real money online casinos, although the state might do so relatively soon. When that happens, you can expect many different popular online casinos to launch in NY, all of which feature Ultimate Texas Hold’em among their available games. Some of these casino sites also offer the chance to play free Ultimate Texas Hold’Em in demo mode before taking to the real money tables. Here are some of the sites currently operating in New Jersey and elsewhere that will likely come to NY:
- BetMGM Online Casino
- BetRivers Online Casino
- Caesars Online Casino
- DraftKings Online Casino
- FanDuel Online Casino
In the meantime, New York players can also check out social and sweepstakes sites. These sites invite players to use virtual currencies to play casino games and, in some cases, even offer ways to redeem winnings for real cash prizes.
These social and sweepstakes casinos tend to focus on online slots, but some include a few table games. While Ultimate Texas Hold’em poker does not typically show up among the choices, it may be introduced in the future.
Practice Ultimate Texas Hold’em
If you are a poker player and enjoy playing video poker and other card-based casino table games, Ultimate Texas Hold’em is definitely worth a try. With just a little bit of study and practice, you can certainly improve your chance of winning at Ultimate Texas Hold’em, too.
Ultimate Texas Hold’em FAQ
What is the difference between Ultimate Texas Hold’em and standard hold’em?
Standard Texas hold’em occurs at a poker table and involves players competing against each other with the casino (the “house”) taking a rake from every pot. However, with Ultimate Texas Hold’em, you play directly against the house.
Much like in blackjack, it is you against the dealer. You can also win extra money in an Ultimate Texas Hold’em game by making certain strong hands. This is not the case in regular hold’em except for special “high hand jackpots” and the like.
What is the house edge in Ultimate Texas Hold’em?
As discussed above, the house edge in Ultimate Texas Hold’em varies depending on how skillfully you play. With regard to the ante bet only, the house edge is about 2.2%, but it can shrink to 0.5% if all the other bets are taken into account and the player adopts a smart basic strategy.
Which game has better odds, 3 Card Poker or Ultimate Texas Hold’em?
As with other card-based table games, learning a bit of strategy can help you in Ultimate Texas Hold’em.
If you play correct Three Card Poker strategy, the house edge can near 2%. If you go for the various side bets, though, the house edge can go up significantly. Ultimate Texas Hold’em has a similar house edge that can go even lower depending on how many play bets you make. Even the edge for the trips bet is a bit under 2% if a standard pay table is used.
All in all, it is pretty close, but Ultimate Texas Hold’em has better odds than Three Card Poker for players who play with correct tactics. That said, the strategy in Three Card Poker is probably easier for most players to learn.