Texas Bonus Hold’em – also know as Texas Hold’em Bonus or Casino Hold’em – is a table game that essentially takes the action of heads up Hold’em poker and turns it into a contest between the players and the dealer. The object of the game is simple: make a better five card poker hand than the dealer. However, there are a few twists that make the game much more fun and interesting than you might expect.
How The Game Is Played
The game begins with each player making an Ante bet; the player also has the option to make a Bonus bet. Both the player and the dealer are given a two card hand, face down.
The player may look at his own cards. At that point, the player much choose whether to fold – which forfeits his hand and his bets – or make a Flop bet. The Flop bet is double the size of the Ante bet.
Next, the dealer will deal out the “flop,” consisting of three community cards either the player or dealer can use to improve their hand. The player now has another choice to make; he can either do nothing and let the hand continue, or make a Turn bet, which is equal to the size of the Ante. This bet is entirely optional.
After the dealer deals the turn (a fourth community card), the player again has the choice to make the optional River bet, which must be the same size as the Ante bet. Again, there is no punishment for not making this bet.
Finally, the dealer deals the final community card, known as the river. At this point, both the player and dealer reveal their hands. If the dealer has a better hand, the player loses all of his bets (with the possible exception of the Bonus bet, which doesn’t consider the dealer’s hand). If the player wins, he wins even money on the Flop, Turn, and River bets; if the player has a straight or better (in some casinos, a flush or better), the Ante bet also pays even money. If the dealer and player tie, all bets push.
The Bonus bet is based on the player’s hole cards, though some casinos also have one extra jackpot bonus that depends on both the player and dealer hands. Here are the typical payouts for the Bonus bet, based on the player’s starting hand.
- AA and dealer has AA: 1000-1
- AA: 30-1
- AK suited: 25-1
- AQ or AJ suited: 20-1
- AK unsuited: 15-1
- KK, QQ or JJ: 10-1
- AQ or AJ unsuited: 5-1
- Other Pairs: 3-1
Texas Bonus Hold’em Strategy
Unlike in real Texas Hold’em, where patience and folding weak hands is a virtue, you’ll rarely want to fold in Texas Bonus Hold’em. Which hands you should fold depends heavily on the exact rules being used, but it’s never much. Under the most common rules, which are used in Las Vegas casinos, you should only fold unsuited hands of 32, 42, 52, 62 or 72. Everything else is worth paying the Flop bet for!
After the flop, the game is much trickier to figure out from a strategic standpoint. Because the dealer has no hand selection – in other words, the dealer is as likely to play 32 offsuit as AA – you don’t need a great hand to make bets.
However, there are some general rules of thumb you can use. For instance, Michael Shackelford found that the optimal strategy would have a player making the Turn bet 43% of the time, and the River bet 48% of the time. If a player makes the Turn bet, they will almost always make the River bet (about 86% of the time), while if you do not make the Turn bet, you’ll only make the River bet about 16% of the time. Essentially, if your hand improves and you’ll have the edge against a random hand, it’s worth making more bets.