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Ultimate Texas Hold ‘Em

Prepare yourself by learning the proper strategies, and it’s a table game worth wagering on

by Michael Shackleford

Ultimate Texas Hold ‘Em is a good bet when you use optimal strategy. The game also has a slow pace, which means you’ll lose less money per hour on average. Another side benefit is that casinos often comp these poker-based games pretty well.

Ultimate Texas Hold ‘Em is one of the more popular poker variations to make it into the crowded business of casino table games. The twist to this game is that the player makes a one-time Play bet of either four times his Ante bet after seeing his hole cards; two times his Ante after the flop; or one time his Ante after the river. Here’s a rundown of the complete set of rules.

Texas Hold 'em

  1. A single, ordinary 52-card deck is used.
  2. The player must make equal bets on both the Ante and Blind.
  3. Two cards are dealt face down to the player and dealer. The player may look at his own cards.
  4. The player may check or make a Play bet equal to three or four times the Ante.
  5. The dealer deals the three community cards (the flop).
  6. If the player previously checked, then he may make a Play bet equal to two times his Ante.
  7. The dealer deals two more community cards (the turn and river).
  8. If the player previously checked twice, then he must either make a Play bet equal to exactly his Ante or fold.
  9. The player and dealer will both make the best possible hand using any combination of his own two cards and the five community cards. The higher hand shall win.
  10. Winning Ante bets pay even money. However, if the dealer can not open with a pair or higher, then Ante bets will automatically push.
  11. Winning Play bets always pay even money.
  12. Winning Blind bets pay according to the posted pay table.

Blind Pay Table


Player Hand Pays
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
All other Push

The Play bet works strongly in the player’s favor. It’s a way to get more money down when you know you have good cards, and it always pays even money. However, the player pays for that with the Ante and Blind bets. The Ante bet works in the dealer’s favor, because the dealer needs a pair to open. If he doesn’t have a pair, the player will most likely have the higher hand, but the Ante will push. The Blind bet also favors the dealer, because wins of three of a kind or less push.


The following strategy advises you when to make the 4X raise. The player should never make a 3X raise at this point.

Pairs: Raise on 3s or higher.

Ace high: Always raise.

King high: Raise except with unsuited K4 or less.

Queen high: Raise with Q8 or higher and suited Q6 and Q7.

Jack high: Raise with JT and unsuited J8 and J9.

All other: Don’t raise.

The strategy for raising after the flop and river is rather complicated. I don’t have enough room to cover it here; I recommend the website for the complete strategy.


Assuming the player follows optimal strategy, the house edge, as defined as the ratio of the expected loss to the Ante bet, is 2.185%. The purpose of the house edge is to estimate losses per hand over time. So, if the player started with $10 bets (on both Ante and Blind), for two hours and we assume 50 hands per hour, the expected loss would be 10*2*50*0.02185 = $21.85.

For the purposes of comparing one game to another, I prefer to use the “element of risk,” which is the ratio of the expected loss to the average bet. In this case, the final bet will be 4.152 times your Ante bet by the end of the hand. Thus, the element of risk is 2.185%/4.152 = 0.526%. That’s very low!

Trips Bet

Every poker-based game seems to offer at least one side bet, and Ultimate Texas Hold ‘Em is no exception. A popular offering is “Trips.” It pays based on the poker value of the player’s final hand. Four pay tables are known. The following table shows what each hand pays under each pay table, and the house edge.

Hand P.T. 1 P.T. 2 P.T. 3 P.T. 4
Royal flush 50 50 50 50
Straight flush 40 40 40 40
Four of a kind 30 30 30 20
Full house 9 8 8 7
Flush 7 6 7 6
Straight 4 5 4 5
Three of a kind 3 3 3 3
All other Loss Loss Loss Loss
House Edge 0.902% 1.904% 3.498% 6.181%

Progressive Jackpot

Some tables now have a $1 progressive jackpot side bet, also based on the player’s cards only. The following pay table is the one I have seen in Las Vegas:

Player flops royal flush pays the jackpot.

Any other royal partially on board pays 5% of jackpot.

Royal entirely on board pays $3000.

Straight flush pays $250.

Four of a kind pays $100

Full house pays $10.

The return is 50.19% plus 3% for each $10,000 in the meter. To reach breakeven, the meter would need to get to $165,959.74. Most of the time the meter will be much less, and thus it carries a high house edge.

In Conclusion…

Ultimate Texas Hold ‘Em is a good bet when you use optimal strategy. The game also has a slow pace, which means you’ll lose less money per hour on average. Another side benefit is that casinos often comp these poker-based games pretty well. The strategy is rather complicated, however. Before you give this game a shot, you should at least memorize when to make the big raise. For more information about Ultimate Texas Hold ‘Em, visit my web site or

Ultimate Texas Hold ‘Em.

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