The poker variation of Holdem, also often referred to as Texas Holdem, is a community card version of poker that has exploded in popularity in recent years, in step with the dramatic increase in popularity of poker in general in recent times.
There’s no question that the massive increase in popularity of poker is due to its being available on the internet. Virtually all real money poker these days is played online, in spite of poker becoming a lot more popular at land based casinos and card rooms lately as well.
The total amount of land based poker tables in the entire world still doesn’t add up to that many, and a large casino may have just a few of them running, and it’s not easy for an establishment to run a lot of poker tables, for various reasons.
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Online poker though has changed everything, and online sites can now run lots and lots of poker around the clock. The main game of choice these days is Holdem, the game featured at the main event of the World Series of Poker as well as large events such as the World Poker Tour.
Casinos would get in on the action by collecting a rake or tournament fee, and that’s how it works at online poker sites as well, but in the standard format, players play against each other.
Back in 2000, Stephen Au-Yeung came up with the idea to transform Holdem into a banking casino game, where players instead would play against the house. This offered similar benefits as other banking poker games did, mainly in that it simplified the game so that a high degree of skill was not required, and could be played adequately by even novices.
While Holdem does have its passionate followers, one of the challenges lies in the fact that it does take quite a bit of time to master the game to be proficient enough not to get kicked around too much at it, becoming one of the sharks so to speak instead of one of the fish. So you can lose a lot more money per hour over the rake if you aren’t very good at it, playing against others, and many newer players are intimidated, and may not be willing to put in the time to master the game enough to fend better.
Casino Holdem Appeals To A Bigger Audience
Casino poker removes this challenge though, as it pits players against the house, and although you can’t get a long term edge like you can with head to head poker, being better than your average opponents and having this edge exceed the rake or fees, your negative expectation at casino poker won’t exceed a typical house edge as long as you play the game sensibly, and even if you don’t, the house edge isn’t that much higher.
So Casino Holdem is an entertainment game, no one plays it for a living of course, as is the case with all casino games really, aside from card counting in blackjack that is, which is of course severely frowned upon.
One only needs a very modest knowledge of poker and Holdem to play Casino Holdem fairly well anyway, and given the fact that poker is a pretty entertaining game, this variation does provide plenty of entertainment while offering a fairly standard and competitive house edge of around 2%-2.5% depending on how well it is played.
How To Play Casino Holdem
The casino variation of this game proceeds similarly to regular Holdem, in that players are each dealt two cards, together with the house hand, and there are 5 community cards dealt. The object is to make the best 5 card poker hand possible.
Players start by making an ante bet, and an optional AA+ bet. After seeing their two cards, they either call by placing a bet of twice the ante, or fold and lose their ante bet. Since this is essentially heads up against the dealer, it is generally desirable to play on with most hands, and good strategy dictates that one should only fold about 18% of the time.
Of course, knowing this, and having a good idea of what the worst 18% of hands are, does require some knowledge, but even playing every hand or folding a little too often won’t throw the house edge off too much, so even novices can happily play this game for hours and see themselves fare similarly to your average casino table game.
The dealer must have a pair of 4’s or better to qualify, so needless to say there will be a lot of hands where the dealer does not qualify, which is the big reason why you don’t want to fold too often. If the dealer doesn’t qualify, remaining players collect 1:1 on their ante and the call bet is returned.
If the dealer does qualify, and beats the player, the player loses both bets. If the player wins, the call bet is paid 1:1 and the ante is paid out according to the strength of a player’s hand, with hands of a flush or better receiving a better payout, with lesser hands getting a 1:1 payout.
The optional AA bet pays out various amounts depending on the strength of a player’s hole cards and the first 3 community cards, up to 100:1 for a royal flush. As is the case with side bets generally, the house edge on these tend to be higher.
Casino Holdem is a very entertaining game and does feature a fair bit of strategy, as far as what hands to hold and which ones to fold, and therefore has all the elements of a great casino game. It may not be anywhere as rich in strategy as the real thing, but has all of the strategy that many casino players wish for and much more so than most other casino games.
Casino Holdem is widely available both at land based casinos and at many online casinos.