TEXAS HOLD'EM BONUS
Introduction
Texas Hold'em Bonus 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, Net Entertainment, RealTime Gaming, Cryptologic, Wagerworks, Chartwell, Boss Media, Party Gaming, Gambling Federation (Bonus Poker), VueTec, and 3Dice softwares. 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 Texas Hold'em Bonus and Casino Hold'em are not the same game.
Rules and Play
After placing an Ante bet, you are dealt two cards. Initially only these two cards are visible. The community cards and dealer cards are unknown. You have the choice to either raise and play the hand, or fold and forfeit the hand, losing the Ante bet. The raise (Flop bet) must be 2x your initial Ante bet.
If you choose to raise, three of the five community cards are dealt. At this point in the game five cards are visible -- your two cards and the three community cards (the Flop). You have the choice to either raise again or continue playing without a raise. The 2nd raise (Turn bet) must be the same size as your initial Ante bet.
Next a 4th community card is dealt (the Turn). Again, you have the choice to raise or continue playing without a raise. The 3rd raise (River bet) must be the same size as your initial Ante bet. If you make all three raises, the total bet is 5x your initial Ante bet.
Next the 5th community card is dealt, and the dealer reveals his hand. Winning hands are determined according to traditional Hold'em rules (5-card poker hands formed from the 7 available cards) and paid as listed below:
Dealer Wins -- All bets lose
Player and Dealer Tie -- All bets push
Player Wins with Straight or Higher -- All bets pay 1:1
Player Wins with Less Than a Straight -- All raise bets pay 1:1, the ante bet pushes
Variations
The standard rules above are known as the Las Vegas rules and used at Cryptologic, Net Ent, Wagerworks, Party Gaming, Gambling Federation, and 3Dice. Vuetec casinos use Atlantic City rules. Under Atlantic City rules, the ante bet pays on a flush or better, instead of a straight or better.
Optional Bonus Bet
Texas Hold'em Bonus offers an optional bonus bet. The bonus bet pays based on the player's two card hand, and sometimes the dealer's two card hand. The 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 | Wagerworks | Microgaming, Cryptologic, G-Fed | RTG, Vuetec, Party |
Player AA & Dealer AA |
1 in 270,000 | 1000 | 1000 | 30 |
Pair: AA | 1 in 220 | 30 | 30 | 30 |
Suited AK | 1 in 330 | 25 | 25 | 25 |
Suited AJ, AQ | 1 in 165 | 20 | 20 | 20 |
Unsuited AK | 1 in 110 | 15 | 15 | 15 |
Pair: JJ to KK | 1 in 75 | 10 | 10 | 10 |
Unsuited AJ, AQ | 1 in 55 | 7 | 5 | 5 |
Pair: 22 to TT | 1 in 25 | 3 | 3 | 3 |
Other | 9 out of 10 | -- | -- | -- |
House Edge | 4.92% | 8.54% | 8.90% |
Strategy
1st Raise -- Under standard (Las Vegas) rules, the player should fold with an unsuited 2/3 to 2/7 -- the 5 worst possible hands. This strategy is the same for minimizing expected loss per hand (standard strategy) and for minimizing expected loss per unit wagered (minimum loss over a wagering requirement). The player should raise with all other hands. Raising on poor hands like an unsuited 3/5 may seem counterintuitive. These hands do have a negative expected return, but the expected return is above -1... the return if the hand is folded, forfeiting the ante bet.
Under VueTec (Atlantic City) rules, to minimize expected loss per hand (standard strategy), the player should fold with an unsuited 2/3 to 2/7 or an unsuited 3/4 -- the 6 worst possible hands. To minimize expected loss per unit wagered (minimum loss over a wagering requirement), the player should fold on only an unsuited 2/3 to 2/7 and not on unsuited 3/4, resulting in the same strategy as Las Vegas rules.
2nd & 3rd Raises -- To minimize expected loss per hand (standard strategy), the player should raise if the odds of winning the hand are greater than the odds of losing the hand. For example, if there is a 50% chance of a win, 45% chance of a loss, and 5% chance of a tie; then the player should raise. To minimize expected loss per unit wagered (minimum loss over a wagering requirement), the strategy is more complex. The player should raise when chance of loss - chance of win is less than than 0.53% with standard (Las Vegas) rules and less than 1.47% with VueTec (Atlantic City) rules.
Unfortunately, these raise decisions cannot be explained with a simple set of rules. You can use the Hold'em Bonus Strategy Calculator to evaluate raise decisions on hands that are not obvious.
House Edge
Under standard (Las Vegas) rules, the house edge (defined per initial bet) of Texas Hold'em Bonus is 2.04%. The average bet size is 3.82x the initial Ante bet, making the house edge per unit wagered 0.53%. The latter value of 0.53% is more appropriate for estimating expected loss while completing a wagering requirement.
Under VueTec (Atlantic City) rules, the house edge (defined per initial bet) of Texas Hold'em Bonus is 5.59%. The average bet size is 3.80x the initial Ante bet, making the house edge per unit wagered 1.47%. The latter value of 1.47% is more appropriate for estimating expected loss while completing a wagering requirement.
Variance and Bet Size
The standard deviation per initial bet of Texas Hold'em Bonus is 3.51. The average bet size is 3.82x the initial Ante bet, making the standard deviation per unit wagered 1.79. The latter value of 1.79 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 of the hand nearly 4x larger than 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 | 70xB | |
B/100 | 95% | 87% | 80% | 76% | 72% | 69% | 66% |
B/50 | 88% | 79% | 73% | 69% | 66% | 64% | 62% |
B/20 | 77% | 69% | 65% | 62% | 60% | 59% | 57% |
B/10 | 70% | 64% | 61% | 59% | 57% | 56% | 55% |
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