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Hold'em High is a variation of the game Texas Hold'em in which you play against a casino dealer. The game is available at casinos using Microgaming software. When playing using the knowledge of all known cards, the game has a lower house edge per wager than most other poker table games, making it a useful alternative to typical game choices.


Rules and Play

Hold'em high differs from most table poker games in that there is no dealer hand. Instead of beating a dealer hand, the player needs to get a minimum hand rank for a positive return, like video poker. At the start of the hand, the player is dealt two pocket cards. There are also five community cards, which are all unknown. Knowing only his two cards, the player must decide to either Raise and triple his bet, Call and double his bet, or Fold and forfeit his bet. After he makes his decision, the hand is scored according to the paytable below, which pays on a minimum hand of 2 pair including a pair of Jacks or better. Unlike standard Texas Hold'em, the player's final hand must use both of his pocket cards and 3 of the 5 community cards. He cannot form a hand with 4+ of the community cards and less than 2 of his pocket cards. Microgaming offers multi-hand play where up to 5 hands can be played simultaneously.

Final Hand Odds
Royal Flush
1 in 65,000
Straight Flush
1 in 7,400
4 of a Kind
1 in 740
Full House
1 in 83
1 in 67
1 in 35
3 of a Kind
1 in 18
2 Pair: Jacks+
1 in 9
Less than above
~4 out of 5



Strategy for a single hand is straight forward since there is only one strategy decision point, and there are only two known cards. The rules below summarize all combinations.

Pair -- Raise
QJ, QT, JT, J9 (strong hand) - Raise with both suited and off suit
T5, T4, T3, T2, 94, 93, 92, 83, 82, 72 (weak hand) -- Call if suited, Fold if off suit
Anything Else -- Raise if suited, Call if off suit

Strategy for multi-hand games is more complicated since any combination of the eight known cards from the first four hands may alter the strategy decision of the 5th hand and may have a large impact on EV. Strategy cannot be summarized well in a short number of rules like the single hand game. Instead I recommend using the Hold'em High Strategy Calculator, which compares the EV of each alternative and returns the highest EV strategy decision. Once you get a feel for the game, you will recognize hands that a large portion of hands are obvious, and you will only need to use the calc for a small minority of hands.


House Edge

When playing a single hand, the house edge (defined per initial bet) of Hold'em High is 5.03%. The average bet size is 2.21x the initial Ante bet, making the house edge per unit wagered 2.28%. The latter value of 2.28% is more appropriate for estimating expected loss while completing a wagering requirement. When playing all five hands and using the known cards from the preceding hands to optimize strategy decisions, the house edge per initial bet drops on the 5th hand drops to ~2.61% and house wager drops to ~1.20%, making it one of the lower house edge table poker games.



When playing a single hand, the per initial bet of Hold'em High is 8.76. The standard deviation per wager is 5.89. The latter values is more appropriate for estimating range of return while completing a wagering requirement. This is a similar variance to 1-play video poker and higher than all other casino table poker games I have seen before. Playing multi-hand to decrease house edge can increase variance tremendously since the most effective way to decrease house edge is to make a much larger bet in the 5th hand than the others. For example, if a player completed a wagering requirement with a £6000 wagering requirement by making £100 bets on the 5th hand and £1 bets on the other 4, the 1 SD range of return is ~£4500. This high a variance can be useful when used for two-tier betting.


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