Ultimate Texas Hold’em is a casino-based table and comparing game in which Players face off against the casino’s representative, who acts as Dealer and Banker, rather than each other in the normal style of Poker.
It is a game with a routine procedure one must follow, and as such is primarily based on luck.
UItimate Texas Hold’em is a mainstay at many casinos across the world. It is more similar in play and ruleset to Blackjack than it is to a traditional game of Texas Hold’em.
How to Play Ultimate Texas Hold’em?
It is played using two decks of 52 cards in the standard Anglo-American pattern, the most common deck found in casino games.
Generally, Ultimate Hold’em can be played with 2-8 Players, with a distinct seat set out for each Player. The maximum number of seats determines the maximum number of Players.
Players are expected to follow a particular betting procedure, with the values of their wager determined by the minimum and maximum wagers allowed at their table of choice.
In front of each seat, there will be a number of circular areas, designed for chips to be placed. In order to participate in the hand, Players must make two wagers. The Ante and the Blind.
For reference, there is usually an equals sign (“=”) between the Ante and Blinds areas to demonstrate that they must be equal in value.
Although the Ante and the Blind must be paid simultaneously and equal to each other, they are different bets that offer different payouts depending on the game-state.
The chips placed in the Ante area must match or exceed the table’s minimum bet. For example, if the minimum-acceptable wager at a table is $25, then you must place $25 into the Ante area, and another $25 into the Blinds area.
Dealing the Cards
Once this has been done, Players will be dealt their 2 private, or “hole” cards. These are the individual Player’s cards, dealt face-down.
Once all Antes and Blinds are settled, and Players and the Dealer have been dealt their face-down cards, the game begins.
Players take turns starting from the Player to the right of the Dealer, deciding whether they will Play before any community cards have been dealt. They also have the option to Check, or Fold.
Players may inspect their hole-cards, and decide for themselves if these cards are good enough to play. The cards should be evaluated based on the traditional card hierarchy of Poker.
If choosing to Play at this first phase, before any community cards are dealt, Players are free to place either 3x or 4x (depending on the table’s allowance) the amount of chips in the Ante circle only.
For example, if you placed $25 in the Ante area, and you choose to play on this first pre-flop phase, you can wager up to $75 at a 3x table.
Otherwise, a Player may Check. When checking in Ultimate Texas Hold’em, there is no requirement to meet the outstanding bets at the table.
This is a table game, and as such Players only are contending against the Banker. A Check is simply a pass on bet, allowing a Player to enter the next phase of the game without putting money into the Play area.
Fold (not advised)
Players may also Fold, at any time. However, as the penalty is the same for folding in the Pre-Flop, Flop, and Turn/River, there is no reason to Fold before all five community cards have been shown.
Be aware: once a wager has been made in the Play area, it cannot be modified.
Community Cards and Flop
Once all Players have either played or checked, the Dealer will then deal three face-up community cards to the center of the table.
Players that have not already placed a 3x-ante wager into their Play area may now choose to place a 2x-ante wager.
Players are also free to Check again, if they are not confident in the Flop.
Community Cards and Turn/River
Once all Players have checked or Played, the Dealer will then deal out two more cards to the center of the Play area. These five community cards, in conjunction with your two hole cards, will be combined to form the best possible 5-card Poker hand.
Final Betting Phase
Players at this stage of the game are not permitted to Check, and must instead choose to Play and wager the same value of their Ante, or 1x wager.
Alternatively, Players could Fold if they do not feel their cards have any chance of winning. Folding simply surrenders the Ante and Blind, as well as any side bets made by a Player, but the Player will not be forced to spend an additional wager on the Play area.
After all Players have finally folded or decided to play, the Showdown begins.
All Players will reveal their two hole cards, along with the Dealer.
Players will compare their best 5-card Poker hand against the Dealer for their Ante and Play wager. Their blinds wager and any side pots will be paid out automatically based on the meld a Player was able to form. This will be explained further in the payouts section.
Dealer Qualification and Push
- The Dealer must have at least a pair in order to “qualify.”
- If the Dealer does not qualify, there is an automatic “Push”, with the Ante and Play bets returned to the Player.
- The Blinds and side bets are still paid out according to their table, even in the event of a Push.
What is a Push in Ultimate Texas Hold’em?
A Push is basically a tie. There are two kinds of Pushes in Ultimate, a Non-Qualifying Push, and a Tying Push. Non-qualifiers return the Ante, while all other bets are played normally. Tying Pushes return all of the bets, including side bets.
The Ante wager and the Player wager always pay 1:1 on a win, while the Blinds wager has its own pay table explained below.
Ending and New Game
Once each Player compared their cards to the Dealer and received payouts where appropriate, the cards are collected, and a new game of Ultimate Texas Hold’em begins.
Ultimate Texas Hold’em Rules
The base set of rules is summarized below.
- If a Player chooses to wager on the Pre-flop, they may wager 3x-4x their initial Ante. If they wager during the Flop, they may wager 2x their initial Ante. If playing on the Turn/River, Players may only wager 1x their initial Ante.
- Players should keep their hole cards hidden from other Players, but are free to check them personally at any time.
- Players may fold at any time, though generally, Players should only fold on the Turn/River phase.
- In the case of a non-qualifying Push, only the Ante is returned while other bets receive payout. In the case of a tying Push, all bets are returned.
- Players must beat the Dealer in order to receive payouts from the Ante, Blind, and Play areas.
Payout Tables and Odds
There are two important payout tables for Ultimate Texas Hold’em: The Blinds Bet and the Trips Bet.
The Blinds Bet
The Blinds payout is simply paid based on the meld a Player is able to form, with higher melds receiving higher payouts according to the traditional Poker Hierarchy.
In order to receive a payout from the Blind, you must beat the Dealers hand while also having a meld of straight or higher.
Anything less than a Straight, results in a non-qualifying Push, where the Player’s Blind wager is returned to them. The following is the Blinds payout table:
The Blind Bet is not particularly advantageous, with Players losing about 30% of the money that they place into it. However, it is a required bet in order to Play.
There is also a side bet, heretofore unmentioned. The Trips Bet is a wager Players make that their hand will contain a Three-of-a-Kind or better, with special payments based on the Player’s meld. The Trips Bet is not pushed except in the case of a tying Push.
The Trips table is unique from other wagers, because the Player does not need to beat the Dealer in order for their trips wager to pay out. It is essentially insurance for Players with high hands that still lose to the Dealer. Here is the Trips payout table:
|Meld||Trips Bet Payout|
Players that do not achieve any of these forfeit their Trips Bet. The Trips wager has a house advantage of about 1.9%, meaning it is slightly disadvantageous to play it.
Imagine the following is your hand:
Players should always play immediately if they have an Ace in their hand. Even a pair of Aces is usually enough to win in a game of Ultimate, as you are only playing against the Dealer, and not the whole table.
Further, Dealers are forced to play, and therefore payout, if they have at least a pair. As you already have a pair of Aces, it is very unlikely for the Dealer to have another pair of Aces, meaning you are more likely to receive a greater payout.
By betting 3x on a hand with an Ace, you are both maximizing your chance to win and maximizing your chance to receive a good payout.
Even if the following is the Flop and Turn/River:
8♠ Q♦ 3♥ 5♣ 3♣
Although you lost, you still should have played immediately upon seeing the Ace as a hole card, because Poker is a game of statistics and averaging out advantages.
Even though you lost this time, more often than not you will win if you bet 3x on an Ace hole card.
Strategy and Tips
A couple simple tips to keep in mind:
- You should never fold before the Turn/River phase of the game. This is because your penalty is the same, forfeiting your Ante and Blind. At least see all of the community cards before definitively deciding that you will fold.
- The Play area is the best place for Players to make money, even though it is the least exciting as it only offers a 1-to-1 payout for winning against the Dealer. Players will only average out a profit against the casino if they are able to successfully win Play wagers, otherwise, Players are more likely to lose money by participating in the Blinds and Trips wagers.
Frequently Asked Questions
Can you beat Ultimate Texas Hold’em?
Yes, it is just as possible for you the Player to win as it is for the house to win. Although the house does have a slight advantage, because if the Dealer does not qualify the house minimizes its losses by forcing a Push.
What is the best hand in Ultimate Texas Hold’em?
In Ultimate Texas Hold’em, as playing early yields a greater payout, the best hand would be something strong that you can safely wager on in the first pre-flop phase.
Something like a pair of Kings or Aces as your hole cards would be considered the best, as it offers the highest chance to receive a large payout.
What is the minimum bet?
This is the minimum allowable bet that can be placed into the Ante and Blind spaces at the beginning of the game. Many casinos differ on what this minimum shall be, though most common denominations are 5, 10, 25, 50, and 100.
Can you count cards in Ultimate Texas Hold’em?
Yes. Counting cards is technically possible in any card game, however Ultimate Texas Hold’em usually only uses two decks of cards, and does not play continuously in the way that something like Blackjack might.
Any card counting in Ultimate Hold’em will only very slightly increase the odds in your favor.