Ultimate Texas Hold’em is a registered trademark of Bally Gaming, a version of the Texas Hold’em poker game that is played on casino tables in live casinos or online.
The format pits players against dealers instead of players against each other. There are several points during the game in which to bet, along with bonus bets that allow for additional payouts when certain hands are hit. Essentially, however, the number of cards used is one of several similarities to traditional Texas Hold’em.
There is no rake taken by the house as in traditional poker games, but there is a house edge in the game that is only increased by bonus bets.
Roger Snow is credited with inventing the Ultimate Texas Hold’em game. At the time of the creation, Snow worked for Shuffle Master, also known as SHFL Entertainment. Eventually, Scientific Games subsidiary Bally Technologies acquired the game in 2013. It is now a registered trademark of Bally Gaming. The game is also known as Heads Up Hold’em for distribution by Galaxy Gaming.
Snow designed a game that gave players more leeway to raise at any time during the course of the hand playing out. The dealer-versus-player aspect allows it to be played online or live as a table game, giving the house an edge but players more excitement than a typical poker game with rigid betting rules.
The game was originally available only for multi-player electronic machines in casinos, but the conversion to a table game gave casinos more chances to promote the game and create an interactive gaming environment. It is now offered in most casinos in the United States and many online casinos.
Ultimate Texas Hold’em is played with a standard 52-card deck.
Round 1 betting: Player must make equal bets on ante and blind, can make optional “trips” bet.
The dealer distributes two face-down cards to the player and himself or herself.
Round 2 betting: Player looks at cards, can check or make play bet of three-times or four-times the original ante.
The dealer puts three community cards on the table facing up.
Round 3 betting: Player who checked can make play bet of two-times ante. Player who made previous play bet cannot bet again.
The dealer puts two more community cards face-up on the table.
Round 4 betting: Player who checked twice before must make play bet of ante size or fold. Player who made previous play bet cannot bet again.
The player and dealer show cards to make the best overall hands using any five-card combinations. If the dealer has at least a pair, he or she can open, and with the best hand, the dealer scoops all bets from the table. If the dealer does not open, however, but still wins the hand, the player only loses the blind but pushes on the antes. If the player wins the hand and the dealer opened, the player wins all of the bets, but if the dealer did not open, the player only wins the blind and pushes on the antes.
There are bonus hands on which to win extra money. While most antes and play bets pay 1-to-1, the blind can pay more for the following hands made by the player:
- Straight: 1-to-1 payout
- Flush: 3-to-2 payout
- Full house: 3-to-1 payout
- Four-of-a-kind: 10-to-1 payout
- Straight flush: 50-to-1 payout
- Royal flush: 500-to-1 payout
There is an optional trips bet that players can make at an Ultimate Texas Hold’em table. The side bet banks on the player’s hand including three-of-a-kind or better. Payoffs for trips can vary, though most start with 3-to-1 for trips (three-of-a-kind) and end with 50-to-1 for a royal flush. The rest of the payouts can vary, so it’s wise to check those before choosing a table at an online casino.
Players with minimal or restrained bankrolls may not want to play trips bets. While the typical player wins the bet an average of every six or seven hands, the royal flush payout is rare and happens only once per 31,000 hands.
If the game is a part of a progressive jackpot network, however, it is wise to play the minimum bet in order to participate. There is zero house edge on progressive bets, and the size of the jackpots typically make it worth the risk.
There are several strategies for players who want to beat the house. There are no guarantees, as luck is a factor and there is no bluffing or reading opponents in Ultimate Texas Hold’em. But there are ways to increase player odds.
Generally, a player is advised to bet two-times the ante with at least a pair after the flop, then follow up with a single bet on the turn and river.
Another strategy is to bet four-times the ante after the flop with these hands: Any ace, K-5 or higher, Q-8 or higher, suited king, suited Q-6 or higher, suited J-8 or higher, pair o threes or higher. Any other combinations are check or fold options, but strong post-flop betting typically pays off, at least increasing player odds to nearer 50% to win.
Additionally, there are smaller betting options. Two-times the ante raises are suggested with two pair or better, a pair using one hole card and one community card, or four-to-a-flush. And a single-ante raise can be considered with the pair using one hole card and one community card, but in most cases, this move is often avoided.