OTS Note: Texas Hold’em is not the traditional kidney-shaped table poker game that Vegas is immediately associated with. If you’re looking for that style of play, we have a Las Vegas Poker guide for that. If Pai Gow is more your style, we have a Pai Gow guide too.
Unlike many more games like Roulette and Baccarat, the reward for even a small Texas Hold’em bet can be enormous. $5 side bet can make you a millionaire when you play Ultimate Texas Hold’em on the Strip. With numerous side bets to get the adrenaline pumping and enough strategy to challenge the most thinking players, Ultimate Texas Hold’em has widespread appeal.
From the time he sees his hand, a wise player at any of the Las Vegas casinos can make only one bet in Ultimate Texas Hold’em. A skilled player knows when he’s ahead and when to cut his losses. He can check, and see the community cards for free, but that comes at a cost. The amount a player is allowed to wager decreases with each betting round.
How to Play Ultimate Texas Hold’em
Players make equal-sized bets on the Ante and the Blind, and an optional Trips side bet to start the hand. Two cards are dealt face down to the players and the dealer. Five community cards are placed face down in front of the dealer. Players look at their cards and have the option to check or raise and make a Play bet 3x to 4x the size of their Antes. The dealer turns over the first three community cards, called the flop, and players who checked pre-flop have the option to check or raise to two times the size of their Ante. Players who have already bet have no choice but to check. The final two community cards are turned over and players who have checked twice must put in a raise the same size as their Ante, or fold and forfeit their Ante and Blind bets. Players who have bet must check, and the hand proceeds to showdown. The players and dealer make their best possible five-card hands according to traditional poker hand rankings using a combination of their hole cards and the five community cards.
Selecting a Winner
The dealer must hold a pair or better for his hand to qualify. It also qualifies if the community cards pair. When the dealer’s hand doesn’t qualify, the player’s Ante bet is returned, but his Blind and Play bets remain active. The player wins even money on his Ante and Play bets when his five-card poker hand outranks the dealer’s qualifying hand.
When he beats the dealer with a straight or better, a player’s blind bet is paid out based on the strength of his hand. A winning Blind bet can be extremely profitable, much more so than the Ante which pays even money, or 1:1. A player’s Blind bet’s a push when he beats the dealer with less than a straight.
Blind Bet Pay Table
- HAND PAYOUT
- Royal Flush 500:1
- Straight Flush 50:1
- Four of a Kind 10:1
- Full House 3:1
- Flush 3:2
- Straight 1:1
Summary of Ultimate Texas Hold’em Payouts
- If the dealer doesn’t qualify, Ante bet is returned to the player. Blind and Play bets active.
- The player wins even money on his Ante and Play bets when his hand outranks the dealer’s.
- If the dealer’s hand beats the player’s, the player loses his Ante, Play and Blind bets.
- Blind bet pays a straight or better based on hand strength.
- If a player wins with less than a straight, the Blind bet pushes.
- Ties end in a push.
Trips Bonus Wager
When a player who makes this side bet is dealt three of a kind, he’s paid based on the table below. He’s eligible for the Trips Bonus whether he wins, ties or loses the hand. He gets paid for a winning hand even when he folds. The house edge is just under 2% when you make this wager.
Trips Bet Pay Table
- HAND PAYOUT
- Royal Flush 50:1
- Straight Flush 40:1
- Four of a Kind 30:1
- Full House 9:1
- Flush 7:1
- Straight 4:1
- Three of a Kind 3:1
A player wins the 6-Card Bonus side bet if he beats the dealer with three of a kind or better. The player combines his two hole cards with four 6-Card Bonus cards to make the best possible five-card poker hand. The top four highest-ranking hands require six cards to complete. A player needs to make the Trips Bonus Wager to be eligible to bet on the 6-Card Bonus. The house edge on this side bet is 6.74%.
6-Card Bonus Pay Table
- HAND PAYOUT
- 6-Card Royal Flush $100,000
- Royal Flush 1000:1
- Straight Flush 200:1
- Four of a Kind 100:1
- Full House 20:1
- Flush 15:1
- Straight 9:1
- Three of a Kind 8:1
Hole Card Bonus
A side bet with a huge payday, the Hole Card Bonus pays out when you and the dealer have the same premium hand. Not available at all casinos, the Hole Card Bonus has a high 8.54% house edge. The Hole Card Bonus side bet can be found at the Ultimate Texas Hold’em tables at Flamingo Las Vegas.
Hole Card Bonus Pay Table
- HAND PAYOUT
- Both you and dealer have aces: 1000:1
- You have aces: 30:1
- AK suited: 25:1
- AQ or AJ suited: 20:1
- AK off suit: 15:1
- JJ, QQ and KK: 10:1
- AQ or AJ off suit: 5:1
- Pairs 2s – 10s: 3:1
Bad Beat Bonus
Every poker player has suffered his fair share of bad beats. Maddening hands like when you’re way ahead with a nut flush and the river pairs, giving your opponent a full house. Or when you go all-in with what you thought was the nuts, only to discover your opponent has a well hidden four of a kind in his hand. Some poker rooms offer a bad beat bonus to curb the pain, and so do some Ultimate Texas Hold’em games. The side bet with a 14.79% house edge pays when either the player or dealer loses with three of a kind or better. The more devastating the loss, the higher the payout.
Bad Beat Bonus Pay Table
- HAND BEATEN PAYOUT
- Straight Flush 7,500 to 1
- Four of a Kind 500 to 1
- Full House 50 to 1
- Flush 30 to 1
- Straight 20 to 1
- Three of a Kind 9 to 1
In 2021, a guest at Venetian won over $1 million playing Ultimate Texas Hold’em. The guest, who wished to remain anonymous, made the Millionaire Progressive side bet for $5. The guest was dealt a spade royal flush for a $1,042,938 jackpot. When players make the $5 Millionaire Progressive side bet, only offered at Venetian and Palazzo, they qualify for an Envy Bonus that pays out when anyone at the table is dealt a straight flush or better.
Millionaire Progressive Pay Table
Royal Flush in Spades Mega Progressive $5,000 Envy Bonus
Royal Flush Major Progressive $2,000 Envy Bonus
Straight Flush Minor Progressive $1,000 Envy Bonus
Four of a Kind $1,500
Full House $250
Other casinos, including Luxor Las Vegas, offer a Progressive Jackpot side bet, also with an Envy Bonus. When someone at the table is dealt Ace/King/Queen of spades, the other players win a $100 bonus. When another player is holding a royal flush in any other suit, his tablemates win a $25 bonus. Pay tables vary widely from one casino to the next, but it takes a full house or better to win the Progressive side bet.
Opens new window
Ace/King/Queen of Spades 100% of the Progressive Jackpot
Ace/King/Queen of any Other Suit 10% of the Progressive Jackpot
Straight Flush 200:1
Four of a Kind 100:1
Full House 10:1
Ultimate Texas Hold’em Odds
At 2.2% when calculated separately, the house advantage on the Ante and Blind bets is relatively low. The majority of the casino’s profit in Ultimate Texas Hold’em comes from high risk side bets. Experts advise avoiding side bets altogether, but if you’re determined to make one, stick with the Trips Bonus Wager.
Ultimate Texas Hold’em Strategy
Much like Blackjack, players of Ultimate Texas Hold’em can turn the odds in their own favor. To minimize the house edge, bet early and aggressively with your best hands. Optimal strategy says to raise 4x your Ante before the flop with the premium hands listed below.
- Pair of 3s or better
- All aces
- Any suited king
- Q6 suited and higher
- J8 suited and higher
When the first three community cards are revealed, raise 2x the size of your Ante with the hands listed below. Check all other hands.
- Two pair or better
- Hidden pair 3s or better: A pair made up of one hole card and one community card
- Four to a flush
When the final two community cards, the turn and the river are exposed, put in a raise the same size as your ante with any hidden pair or better.
Where to Play Ultimate Texas Hold’em on the Strip
Ultimate Texas Hold’em is offered at many casinos on the Las Vegas Strip, with minimum bets typically ranging between $10 and $25. The best deal on the Strip is at Luxor where the minimum bet is a low $5. The games are fun and fast paced at New York New York where the minimum bet is $10, and at Aria and Treasure Island where the minimum is $15 during off peak hours.