The huge explosion of popularity of no-limit Texas hold’em poker in the early 2000s, which took over seven card stud and fixed-limit hold’em as the most popular games, lead to the creation of a number of casino-based titles with similar gameplay. One of those is casino hold’em, and it’s probably the table game that most closely resembles playing against other players instead of going up against the house. With the way it is designed, casino hold’em strategy isn’t always intuitive, and we’ll show you how to make the adjustments you need to play better.
Three Tenets of Casino Hold’em Strategy
There are three basic facts that you can keep in mind to drive your casino hold’em play forward quite a bit in a short period of time. First off, the side bets that may be available at some sites are generally a raw deal and should be avoided. In virtually all cases of games available online and in land-based establishments, the side bets have a much lower payout rate than the regular game, so you should steer clear of them. The exception to this is a progressive jackpot side bet offering (if available), which can be a fine bet to make if the jackpot itself is large enough.
The second tenet we want to offer you is to be realistic about the nature of the decision that’s put in front of you. You put in an ante before the cards are dealt, and you’ll receive two hole cards along with three community cards (ie: the flop). From there, you have the option to call or fold. Calling requires putting in an additional bet that’s worth twice the size of the ante. What happens with this decision is that your intuition gets tricked into treating the decision to call like it’s an even money bet when it’s really not. As a result, you’ll often feel that you have about as much to win as you have to lose, but that’s not correct. In fact, you have quite a bit more to win than to lose in this situation because of the qualifying requirement for the dealer and for the multiples of the ante that you can win with various hands.
This leads us to the third and final tenet that we want to present to you: You should actually only fold about one-fifth of the time and call the remaining four-fifths. This proportion of calls to folds can be proven mathematically, and the exact amount depends a bit on the pay table for the ante wins, but this is what it approximately comes down to almost always. This is a far cry from the 50/50 split that is often seen from a lot of players whose intuition about Texas hold’em gets the best of them with this particular set of rules.
Practice Makes Perfect
In other table games like blackjack, Let ‘Em Ride, Caribbean stud and rummy variations, it’s important to put in a lot of practice. This is the case with learning to play casino hold’em well also, and that’s why we suggest that you work on putting the above tenets of strategy in place while tracking your progress to see what your fold to call ratio is over time.
Bonus Read: The Foundations of Video Poker Strategy