Casino Hold’em: Understand House Edge and Optimize Your Play


Casino Hold’em: Understand House Edge and Optimize Your Play


Three sevens playing cards and casino chips on a green felt table.

Casino Hold’em: Understand House Edge and Optimize Your Play


Casino chips, money and playing cards on a table.

Hold’em is a relatively new table game in online and brick-and-mortar casinos. Despite a similar name, it’s not the same as playing Texas hold’em poker. This form of the game, created in 2000, is played against the casino. As such, the rules and strategies are entirely different.

Since it’s only been around for two decades, the game might not be on your radar yet. But in this article, you’ll learn everything you need to start playing, not to mention a few tips to increase your chances of success.

Basic Rules To Know

A deck of cards on a wooden table.

Hold’em table games can be played at the casino, whether online or brick-and-mortar. But first, you’ll need to learn the rules.

  • A single 52-card deck is used, with no jokers. You won’t have to worry about multiple decks of cards, as in games like blackjack.
  • Players must place an ante to play a hand, with optional bets later on.
  • After placing the ante, you’ll receive two cards face-up. There’s no need to hide these since you’re only playing against the house. 
  • The goal is to form the best five-card combination, just like you would in any online poker game. A royal flush is the strongest possible hand, while high card hands are the weakest. To win, you must simply beat the dealer’s hand.

How To Start Playing a Hand

Place your ante on the table and await your two cards. Every Texas hold’em casino will specify different stakes, so look out for minimum and maximum bet sizes.

Look at your hole cards and consider the different Texas hold’em starting hands. With pocket aces, you’re in a great position to win. With something less pretty, like J♠️ 5♣, you’ll need some help from the flop, turn, and river. 

This unique Texas hold’em casino table game skips the preflop action you’d see in a regular poker game. Once you have your hole cards, the dealer reveals the flop. Now is the time to decide whether to play the hand or fold. 

If you decide your cards have potential, you can “call,” which means you’ll place another bet equal to the size of your initial ante. If you fold, your ante is surrendered. 

If you like your odds and choose to continue, the dealer will flip over the turn and river cards. Since this is casino-style Texas hold’em, your only chance to bet is on the flop. In true Texas hold’em games, of course, you would have four opportunities to bet: preflop, postflop, on the turn, and on the river. 

At this point, the hand is over, so it’s time for a showdown. But how do you know who’s won?

How To Determine the Winner

If you made a bet on the flop, now’s the time you’ve been waiting for. The dealer flips over their cards and compares their hand to yours. Hopefully, you’ve made a royal flush or something equally beautiful.

All you need to do to win is beat the dealer’s hand in accordance with the standard poker rankings. For example, if you make a flush and the dealer shows a straight, you’ve won. 

However, the house must hold a qualifying hand, which is a pair of 4s or better. If they come up short, players win automatically on their ante. The second bet, though, is returned. 


A person holding money in their hands.

These happen in two different ways. 

  • Getting paid on your ante: Your ante bet payout depends on the hand’s strength. A royal flush commands the highest prize, usually paying 100 to 1. Straight flushes tend to pay 20 to 1, with 10 to 1 for four-of-a-kind, 3 to 1 for full houses, and 2 to 1 for flushes. Straights, trips, and pairs all pay 1 to 1. 
  • Getting paid on your call: You’re paid 1 to 1 on your ante when you beat the dealer’s qualifying hand. If the house can’t show a combination better than a pair of 4s, your call is refunded.

Side Bets

Some casinos offer side bets, but these should generally be avoided. They usually carry an excessive casino house edge. Take a look at the most common example, the AA Bonus.

Here, you’ll win if your hand flops a pair of aces or better. Payouts depend on hand strength, just like your ante bet. Different casinos have different payouts, but the numbers are generous if you win. A royal flush might pay out 100 to 1 on your side bet, while a flush could return 20 to 1. Remember, these returns are on the side wager, in addition to your ante bet and call.

These side bets can slightly increase the house edge on casino games because you put more money in without seeing your cards. There are many important strategies in the next section, but side bets aren’t one of them. 

Useful Strategy Tips

If you want to try to beat the house edge, you should start by applying these fundamental strategies.

Bet Sizing

Keep ante bets low, if possible. You don’t want to make the flop bet too expensive by choosing a large ante. Try to ensure the ante size is reasonable and within your budget.


Playing cards and chips on a poker table.

Follow these guidelines when calling.

  • Any pair is good enough to call with: There’s just one round of betting, and a pair has a good chance of beating the dealer’s potential holdings. You can rely on single pairs much more in this game than in actual Texas hold’em.
  • Call with any ace or king: Like pairs, high cards have more value in this game than traditional hold’em, making them good calling cards.
  • Call with most queens or jacks: These high cards offer good odds against the dealer’s hand. Additionally, if there are three suited cards on the flop, either the queen or jack should give you a strong flush draw. 
  • Call with one-card flush and straight draws: When you need just one card to complete a strong draw, you should always be calling. 
  • Call with overcards to the board: If both of your hole cards outrank the flop cards, it makes sense to continue, as you have around a 25% chance of hitting a pair.


Fold if you don’t hold anything higher than a 10. The only reason to call with low cards is to chase flush or straight draws, but only if one card is needed. Chasing low-probability draws is one of the most common rookie mistakes in Texas hold’em that you should avoid.

Is It More Fun Than Texas Hold’em?

While some people enjoy the intricacies of playing poker against others, many prefer fast-paced solo games against the house. Ultimately, it’s a matter of personal opinion. But the good news is that any reputable online casino will offer both options. Register at Borgata Online to access some of the world’s best online poker and live casino table games.