CASINO HOLD'EM / CARIBBEAN HOLD'EM
Introduction
Casino Hold'em (also known as Caribbean Hold'em) is a variation of the game Texas Hold'em in which you play against a casino dealer. The game is available at Playtech, Net Ent, RealTime Gaming, Random Logic, Boss, Odds On, World Gaming, and Gale Wind casinos. The game's low expected loss per unit wagered makes it a useful alternative for clearing bonuses. Optimal strategy is complex, so game play can be slow. Note that Casino Hold'em and Texas Hold'em Bonus are not the same game.
Rules and Play
After placing an Ante bet, the player's two cards are dealt, as well as three of the five community cards (the Flop). The player then must choose to either fold and forfeit the hand (losing ante bet), or raise and play the hand. The raise bet must be 2x the size of the Ante bet. If the player raises, then there are several possible payouts. If the dealer has a pair of 4s or better, the dealer "qualifies." Payouts depend on whether the dealer qualifies, as listed below.
Dealer Does Not Qualify -- Ante bet pays according to table below, raise bet pushes
Player Wins, Dealer Qualifies -- Ante bet pays according to table below, raise bet pays 1:1
Player and Dealer Tie, Dealer Qualifies -- All bets push
Player Loses, Dealer Qualifies -- All bets lose
Hand | Final Hand Odds | Ante Bet Payout |
Royal Flush | 1 in 31,000 | 100:1 |
Straight Flush | 1 in 3,200 | 20:1 |
4 of a Kind | 1 in 600 | 10:1 |
Full House | 1 in 39 | 3:1 |
Flush | 1 in 33 | 2:1 |
Straight or Less | 16 out of 17 | 1:1 |
House Edge (in terms of Initial Bet) | 2.16% | |
House Edge per Unit Wagered | 0.82% |
Variations
In RealTime Gaming Caribbean Hold'em, the ante bet pays 1:1 when the dealer does not qualify. Under standard rules, the ante pays according to the table above. This change increases the house edge per wager to 1.17%.
In Odds On / Vegas Technologies Casino Hold'em, the ante bet only pays on a pair or better. It does not pay when the player has a high card and the dealer does not qualify. I crudely estimate that this change increases the house edge per wager to ~5%.
Optional Bonus Bet
Casino Hold'em offers an optional bonus bet. The bonus bet pays based on a 5-card hand composed of the player's 2 cards and three flop cards. The remaining two community cards are not included. Like most side bets, the house edge of the bonus bet is significantly larger than the house edge of the main game. A summary is below:
Hand | Hand Odds | Playtech, World Gaming, Gale Wind | Net Ent, Odds On | RTG |
Royal Flush | 1 in 650,000 | 100 | 25 | Jackpot |
Straight Flush | 1 in 72,000 | 50 | 25 | 10% of JP |
4 of a Kind | 1 in 4200 | 40 | 25 | 500 |
Full House | 1 in 695 | 30 | 25 | 100 |
Flush | 1 in 510 | 20 | 25 | 75 |
Straight | 1 in 255 | 7 | 7 | -- |
3 of a Kind | 1 in 47 | 7 | 7 | -- |
Two Pair | 1 in 21 | 7 | 7 | -- |
Pair of Aces | 1 in 31 | 7 | 7 | -- |
Kings or Less | 9 out of 10 | -- | -- | -- |
House Edge | 6.26% | 6.40% | 43 to 53%* |
With a $55,000 jackpot, the house edge is 43%. I have never seen the jackpot above $55,000.
Strategy
Unfortunately, there is no simple way to explain optimal strategy for Casino Hold'em. Optimal raise/fold decisions cannot be described with a short set of rules. To minimize expected loss per hand (standard strategy), the player should raise on fold on the worst 18% of hands, which have an EV of below -1 (the EV of folding the hand), and play the remaining 82% of hands. To minimize expected loss per unit wagered (minimum loss over a wagering requirement), the player should fold on hands which have an EV of below -1.016. You can use the Casino Hold'em Strategy Calculator to evaluate decisions on hands that are not obvious.
A simplified strategy is below. This strategy has a house edge per wager that is ~0.0025% above optimal. Once you get a feel for the game, you will recognize more hands that are obvious raises and folds beyond the cases below.
Raise...
With a pair or better (using at least 1 player card)
With 4 to a flush
With 4 to an outside straight (a straight with an outside card missing, such
as 4567)
With player cards of A/4 to A/A
With player cards of K/7 to K/K
If the above conditions
aren't met, fold...
With player cards of 2/3 to 2/7 (without 4 to a straight)
With player cards of 3/4 to 3/7 (without 4 to a straight)
If none of the above is true, use the calc.
House Edge
With standard rules, the house edge (defined per initial bet) of Casino Hold'em is 2.16%. The average bet size is 2.64x the initial Ante bet, making the house edge per unit wagered 0.82%. The latter value of 0.82% is more appropriate for estimating expected loss while completing a wagering requirement.
Under RealTime Gaming Caribbean Hold'em rules, the house edge (per initial bet) is 3.09% and the house edge per unit wagered is 1.17%. The latter value of 1.17% is more appropriate for estimating expected loss while completing a wagering requirement.
Variance and Bet Size
The standard deviation per initial bet of Casino Hold'em is 2.61. The average bet size is 2.64x the initial Ante bet, making the standard deviation per unit wagered 1.61. The latter value of 1.61 is more appropriate for estimating range of return while completing a wagering requirement.
I recommend an Ante bet size that is smaller than you would use for blackjack since the average final bet size is much larger than the initial Ante bet. The table below shows the chance of ending above the deposit balance with unlimited bankroll, after completing a wagering requirement with 4 bet sizes (size of Ante bet). See the Return & Variance Calculator for more specific estimates.
Bet Size | Playthrough Requirement | |||||
---|---|---|---|---|---|---|
10xB | 20xB | 30xB | 40xB | 50xB | 60xB | |
B/100 | 97% | 88% | 80% | 75% | 70% | 66% |
B/50 | 90% | 80% | 73% | 68% | 64% | 61% |
B/20 | 79% | 70% | 65% | 62% | 59% | 57% |
B/10 | 72% | 64% | 61% | 58% | 57% | 55% |
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