11 Ways That Ultimate Texas Hold’em Differs From Regular Hold’em

Texas Hold'em Flop With Chips and Cards on the Table

Millions of gamblers around the globe are familiar with Texas Hold’em. This poker variation is the centerpiece of televised tournaments and cash games.

Some of these same people, however, don’t know anything about Ultimate Texas Hold’em. They merely know it as some weird casino game with the word “ultimate” in front of it.

If you’re among the crowd that knows Texas Hold’em and not the Ultimate version, then you might be interested in knowing how they differ. Here are 11 ways that Ultimate Texas Hold’em is different from its root game.

1 – Ultimate Texas Hold’em Sees You Play against the Casino

Ultimate Texas Hold’em is a casino game that pits you against the dealer/house. Your immediate objective is to beat the dealer’s hand and win 1:1 on your ante. You can also win a play bet, blind wager, and side bets (all covered later).

This setup differs greatly from Texas Hold’em, which involves playing against human opponents. In standard Hold’em, your mission is to outplay other players and earn profits.

2 – No Bluffing Necessary

Bluffing is an overstated part of Texas Hold’em. Movies and TV shows often make it seem like successful players constantly bluff with 2-7 off-suit.

Nevertheless, bluffs and semi-bluffs, do exist to some degree in Hold’em. With a large and/or well-timed raise, you can trick opponents into folding even when your hand is weak.

Bluffing, however, has no place in Ultimate Texas Hold’em. You have no reason to bluff in this game since the dealer must act according to set rules. They can’t simply fold a hand just because you raise.

3 – You’ll Face a House Edge

Like any casino game, Ultimate Texas Hold’em features a house edge. The house advantage is often stated as 2.19%.

However, this figure only accounts for the ante at the start of a hand. Ultimate Hold’em actually features multiple betting rounds.

Therefore, it’s subject to a concept known as “element of risk,” which measures additional betting rounds. When using proper strategy, you’ll lower this game’s element of risk to 0.58%.

Regular Texas Hold’em doesn’t have a house edge because you’re playing against other humans. Assuming you can beat your opponents, then you have a chance at collecting profits.

Ace and King

Of course, you also have to account for the rake that’s taken out of tournament buy-ins and cash-game pots. Typical cash rake is 5% of the pot (e.g. $2.50 out of $50). Tournaments usually tack 10% fees onto the buy-in (e.g. $100 + $10).

4 – Bonus Payouts Are Available

Ultimate Hold’em isn’t only about beating the dealer. Hand strength and rankings also come into the matter because you receive large bonus payouts with strong hands.

These payouts are based on the size of your blind bet and have nothing to do with the dealer’s hand. Here’s a common Ultimate Texas Hold’em pay table:

  • Royal Flush – 500:1 payout
  • Straight Flush – 50:1
  • Four of a Kind – 10:1
  • Full House – 3:1
  • Flush – 3:2
  • Straight – 1:1

As can be seen, a royal flush delivers the top payout at 500:1 relative to your blind. A straight flush provides a large payout too at 50:1.

Texas Hold’em can also deliver big payouts if the pot is large enough. However, these situations aren’t entirely dependent upon your hand strength. You just need to beat other opponents still in the hand to win the pot.

Furthermore, you’re never guaranteed to win just because you hold a strong hand. Your full house or four-of-a-kind could get cracked under unfortunate circumstances.

5 – You Must Place Ante and Blind Bets to Play

Unless you’re in the small or big blind, you don’t have to bet anything to play a Texas Hold’em hand. Instead, you’ll receive two hole cards regardless.

Dealer Dealing Cards At a Texas Hold'em Table

From here, you can either decide to call the big blind and any potential bets/raises before you. Or you can simply fold your hand when unhappy with it.

Ultimate Texas Hold’em doesn’t allow you to play hands unless you’ve made bets. You’ll have to place both the ante and blind wagers to join a hand. These wagers need to be equal to each other (e.g. $5 ante and $5 blind).

The ante pays at 1:1 when you beat the dealer’s hand. As explained before, the blind revolves around your hand strength.

6 – You Can See Additional Streets Without Betting More

While you may have to make ante and blind wagers to play, you don’t have to place additional bets to see more streets/cards.

Ultimate Texas Hold’em allows you to decline betting during the pre-flop, flop, and river rounds. You only have to make an additional wager (a.k.a. “play” bet) when wanting to reach the showdown.

The downside to declining a play bet is that you won’t be able to risk as much on future streets. Here are the rules on the play wager:

  • Pre-flop (hole cards) – You can place a play bet worth 3x or 4x your ante.
  • Flop (first three community cards) – When checking pre-flop, you can make a play wager worth 2x your ante.
  • River (fourth and fifth community cards) – When checking the flop, you can place a play bet worth 1x your ante.
  • You could also fold after the river cards are dealt, at which point you automatically lose the ante and blind bets.

You might be able to see additional streets in Texas Hold’em without betting. However, everything depends upon what your opponents do.

If an opponent leads with a bet on the flop, for example, you’ll need to bet or raise. You won’t be able to see the turn without at least matching their wager.

7 – This Game Has Side Bets

You can also place an optional “trips” bet at the beginning of a hand. Trips is similar to the blind bet in that it’s totally based on your hand strength.

The only difference is that it has different payouts, as seen below:

  • Royal Flush – 50:1 payout
  • Straight Flush – 40:1
  • Four of a Kind – 30:1
  • Full House – 8:1
  • Flush – 7:2
  • Straight – 4:1
  • Three of a Kind – 3:1

The trips payouts are more bunched together than the blind wager. Only a 20:1 difference exists between a royal flush and four-of-a-kind.

Hands Grabbing Casino Chips and Poker Cards, Stack of Cash

Some Ultimate Hold’em games also offer a progressive jackpot. You can make a $1 side bet to try for the progressive prize.

You’ll need a flopped royal flush to win the jackpot. Most of these bets pay 5% of the jackpot for a royal formed on the river.

8 – Ultimate Texas Hold’em Strategy Is Tough—But Not as Tough as Hold’em

Ultimate Texas Hold’em makes you work for the aforementioned 2.18% house edge—or 0.58% element of risk. It requires extensive strategy when compared to the average table game.

You must know how to handle many situations during the pre-flop, flop, and river streets. You can check out the Ultimate Texas Hold’em strategy guide here for more information.

But while Ultimate Hold’em may have a complex strategy, it’s still nothing compared to the intricacies of Texas Hold’em. The latter is by far one of the toughest forms of gambling in existence.

Hold’em sees you play against fellow humans, who can make strategy adjustments based on observations.  Therefore, this game features a constantly-changing dynamic.

9 – The Strategy Doesn’t Change Once You Learn It

Ultimate Hold’em strategy isn’t a breeze to learn. The good news, though, is that you don’t have to relearn anything after mastering this game.

Instead, the Ultimate Texas Hold’em strategy remains static. You merely need to remember the correct decisions on each street to play optimally.

Pocket Aces in a Holdem Game

Regular Hold’em, on the other hand, requires adjustments to play well. You must observe how your opponents are playing and make decisions accordingly.

For example, you might notice that an opponent always check-raises on the flop regardless of their holdings. You can then consider calling their raise or even re-raise them.

10 – Your Ante Automatically Pushes if the Dealer Doesn’t “Open”

You won’t always win your ante bet with the better cards in Ultimate Texas Hold’em. The dealer has to at least “open” for you to win the ante.

Opening refers to when the dealer at least holds a pair. Assuming they don’t have a pair, then your ante is a push.

Your play bet, blind, and any side wagers will still be live. You’ll automatically win the play wager if the dealer can’t open. Again, though, you can push on an ante despite having the stronger hand.

Texas Hold’em never sees you push on anything with the better hand. Instead, you win everything with the best cards on the showdown. You can also pick up wins by raising and getting other players to fold.

11 – Stakes Are Typically $5 Live and $1 Online

Ultimate Hold’em stakes don’t vary much. The minimum live wager is typically $5 on the ante and blind at land-based casinos. Meanwhile, online Ultimate Texas Hold’em requires a $1 bet for the ante and blind.

Standard Texas Hold’em, by contrast, is much different when it comes to stakes. This game features a wider variety of limits.

For example, an online poker room may offer no-limit Hold’em stakes ranging from $0.01/$0.02 to $25/$50. The skill levels of players generally increases as you move up the limits.


Regular and Ultimate Texas Hold’em have similarities when it comes to gameplay. Both involve trying to make the best five-card hand out of seven cards.

They also differ quite a bit, though, in certain ways. The biggest difference is that Ultimate Hold’em is a house-banked game that sees you take on the dealer.

As long as you can beat the dealer, then you stand to win a payout. You’ll also receive bonus payouts for stronger hands.

As explained throughout this post, Ultimate and standard Texas Hold’em have many other differences. You should thoroughly learn how they differ before transitioning from one game to the other.

Posted in: Poker

Most Recent

See all recent
Person Dealing Poker Next to a Pair of Aces
Texas Holdem vs Five Card Draw
BY Shaun Stack | January 21, 2023

Poker’s popularity last peaked during the live tournament boom in the mid-2000s. Despite peaking over a decade ago, the game is still played by millions of people. Tournaments, like the...

read more
Poker Table Next to Pocket Kings
7 Card Stud Rules to Know Before Playing
BY Shaun Stack | December 22, 2022

There are few card games that can realistically use the entire deck every round. 7 card stud is one such game. 7 card stud is an older poker game that...

read more
Man Shrugging With Pai Gow Poker Tables In the Background
How to Play Pai Gow Poker
BY Shaun Stack | October 5, 2022

Pai gow poker has quickly risen in popularity in recent years. This unique variation of poker combines many elements of other popular card games. It is perfect for casino players...

read more