Casino Hold'em, also known as Caribbean Hold'em Poker, combines much of the excitement of Texas Hold'em with several unique twists. The main difference is that players compete directly against the dealer, but there's also an optional side bet that can pay major dividends on hands such as a royal or straight flush.
Since its introduction in 2000, the game has grown in popularity across the globe, and it's offered by several of the leading online casino software companies. This article examines the basics of real-money Casino Hold'em, from rules and payout structure to suggested strategy.
Rules for Casino Hold'em
The rules for Caribbean Hold'em are similar to those of Texas Hold'em, but there are a few key differences. Like its more popular cousin, the game uses a 52-card deck. Unlike Texas Hold'em, however, this game pits players against the dealer instead of each other.
To begin the game, the player makes an ante bet. At many online casinos, the wager can range from $1 to $500. However, always check the betting requirements before you begin play.
At this point, the player also has the option of making an additional side wager on the AA Bonus. Some casinos offer an option progressive jackpot wager, instead. These will be discussed in greater detail in the next section of this article.
After the player has made their ante and a possible side wager, both the player and the dealer receive two face-down cards. Three community cards are then dealt face-up between the player and dealer (this area is known as the "board"). The objective of the game is to make a better hand than the dealer using a combination of the player's cards and those on the board.
The player now examines their hole cards and decides whether to fold or call. If they fold, they forfeit the hand and their ante wager. If the player wants to continue, they must make a call wager equal to twice the ante bet.
Assuming the player calls, the dealer places two more cards face-up on the board (for a total of five cards). At this stage, both player and dealer use any combination of hole and community cards to make the strongest 5-card poker hand possible.
The dealer must have at least a pair of fours in order to qualify. If the dealer fails to qualify, the player is paid on their ante bet according to the ante pay table, while their call wager is returned as a push.
If the dealer does qualify, his 5-card hand is compared to the player. A superior hand by the player results in the ante wager being paid according to the pay table, while the call bet delivers even money. If the hands of the dealer and player are equal, then all bets are a push. If the dealer has a better hand, then the player loses their ante and call bets.
AA Bonus & Progressive Jackpot
Once the regular phase of the game has been resolved, the house then pays out on any side wagers that may have been made. There are two common examples to consider, and both use the player's hole cards and the first three community cards to determine whether or not to issue a payout.
The first is known as the AA Bonus, and it's available in licensed versions of Casino Hold'em. It provides the following bonus payouts:
A pair of aces up to a straight pays 7:1.
A flush pays 20:1.
A full house pays 30:1.
Four of a kind pays 40:1.
A straight flush pays 50:1.
A royal flush pays 100:1.
At the Bovada online casino, they feature a Caribbean Hold'em side bet that gives players a chance to win all or part of a progressive jackpot that's also linked to Caribbean Stud Poker and Caribbean Draw Poker.
A royal flush pays 100% of the progressive jackpot.
A straight flush pays 10% of the jackpot.
Four of a kind pays $500.
A full house pays out $100.
A flush pays $75.
Casino Hold'em Card Rankings and Payouts
The following section details the card rankings for real-money Caribbean Hold'em, as well as potential payouts. The amount of money paid by the casino will differ from one location to the next, so always be sure to check before you begin your gaming session. Since this site specializes in online gambling, I've used the payout table provided by Bovada. At some locations, this may be referred to as the AnteWin pay table.
Note: Suit refers to the symbol on the card (clubs, diamonds, spades, hearts). Rank refers to the value of the card (8, 10, ace, king, etc.).
Royal Flush - A, K, Q, J, 10 of the same suit. The payout for a royal flush is 100:1 (that means you win $100 for every $1 wagered).
Straight Flush - Five cards of the same suit in consecutive order. 20:1 payout.
Four of a Kind - Four cards of the same rank. 10:1 payout.
Full House - One pair and three of a kind. 3:1 payout.
Flush - Five cards of the same suit in non-consecutive order. Pays out at 2:1.
Straight - Five consecutive cards of various suits. Pays even money.
Three of a Kind - A trio of cards with the same rank. Even money payout.
Two Pair - Two pair of different ranks. Pays even money.
One Pair - A single pair of cards. Most casinos offer an even money payout.
High Card - Five non-consecutive cards of various suits and ranks. Winning with a high card offers an even money payout.
Caribbean Hold'em Poker Strategy
The most useful tip for playing Casino Hold'em Poker for real money involves the raise bet. When you're playing, you should raise 82% of the time in order to achieve optimal strategy. This means that only the weakest 18% of hands should be abandoned, usually when your hole cards are of different suits and much lower than the community cards (making a potential straight or flush unlikely).
Casino Hold'em House Edge
While the house edge can fluctuate based on the pay table, the most common is 2.16%. Others payouts can cause this to rise as high as 2.40% or as low as 1.96%.
The house edge for the AA Bonus is 6.40% if the casino pays 25 to 1 on a royal flush. That decreases to 6.26% is the royal flush is worth a 100:1 payout.