Ultimate Texas Hold’em takes the popular player-vs-player poker format – and makes this into a casino table game. This game involves hole cards, a flop, turn and river. Unlike the original game, you are playing against the house, and not the other players.
With 3 chances to bet on every hand, the rules are more complex than for other casino table games. You can bet more on early streets than on later ones in Ultimate Texas Hold’em. The ability to ‘check’ is also part of the game. This keeps players involved until the end of each hand.
This page covers Ultimate Texas Hold’em (UTH) in depth. Below you will find the rules, set out as a single hand of the game. House edge and the popular ‘Trips’ side bet are covered after that. Strategy, legal online UTH games and a detailed FAQ are also included.
UTH rules: How Ultimate Texas Hold’em works
You need to place 2 bets to be dealt into a hand of Ultimate Texas Hold’em. These bets are of equal size. One is the ‘Ante’ and the other is the ‘Blind’. You also get the option to place a 3rd bet, ‘Trips’. This is a side bet. It is covered in the section below.
UTH is played with a single deck of cards, which is shuffled between deals.
Each player and the dealer are each dealt 2 ‘hole cards’ face down. You only get to look at your own cards. Sharing of hands between players is not allowed. 5 community cards are also dealt, these are all face-down at the start of the hand.
There are three possible betting rounds in each hand. Note that you only get to bet once, after which you simply wait for the outcome.
- Pre-Flop: Based on your hole cards you can choose to bet 3x or 4x your ante, or check (bet nothing and wait for the flop).
- On the Flop: Once the flop of 3 community cards is revealed, you get a second chance to bet. You can choose to bet 2x your ante – or check once again.
- After the River: Next the final two community cards are revealed. You now get to choose between betting 1x your ante – or folding your hand (losing both the Blind and Ante).
Next the dealer and players reveal their hands. There is a dealer qualification requirement. The dealer needs 1 pair or better to ‘Open’ (qualify). Your hand and the dealer’s best 5-card poker hand using any combination of the community cards and hole-cards will then be compared.
Here are how the bets are paid:
- Player Wins + Dealer Opens: Blind/Ante/Play all paid
- Player Wins + Dealer Does Not Open: Blind and Play bets paid, Ante is a Push
- Dealer Wins and Opens: All Blind/Ante/Play all lose
- Dealer Wins and Does Not Open: Blind and Play bets lose Ante is a Push
In the event of a tie all bets are considered a push.
Winning Ante and Play bets are paid at 1-to-1. Blind bets are different. They are paid depending on the strength of your poker hand. Note that anything below a straight is a push.
- Royal Flush: 500-to-1
- Straight Flush: 50-to-1
- 4 of a Kind: 10-to-1
- Full House: 3-to-1
- Flush: 3-to-2
- Straight: 1-to-1
Other casino table games
|Ultimate Texas Hold'em||3 Card Poker||Let It Ride|
Strategy for Ultimate Texas Hold’em
To play optimally, a strategy card is recommended for this game. The requirements for whether to play, check or (after the river) fold are different as you go through the hand. There are some simple rules of thumb which will help with most of your decisions.
- Before the flop: Bet 4x with any pair, any ace, any suited king, King/5 unsuited or better, Queen/8+ (unsuited) and Queen with a 6 or 7 if suited, Jack + 10 unsuited, Jack with an 8 or 9 if suited. Every other hand is a check.
- On the flop: Bet 2x with any pair that includes one of your own hole cards, except for 2-2. 2 pairs or better or 4 to a flush (4 suited cards) where one of your own cards is at least a 10 of that suit. Otherwise check.
- After the river: Bet 1x with any hand better than a pair that includes one of your own hole cards. You should also bet where the dealer has less than 21 ‘outs’ to beat your hand. This is not always clear, with a judgement of how easily you could be beaten by high cards in the dealers hand a reasonable substitute.
UTH is not a game that works by ‘playing blind’ (betting regardless of your hole cards). With so much information available via the community cards, betting before you see them gives the casino a big house edge.
UTH side bets: Trips and progressive jackpots
Unlike many other casino table games, Ultimate Texas Hold’em already include a bonus payout. The mandatory ‘Blind’ bet pays up to 500-to-1 for a Royal Flush. There is also a popular ‘Trips’ side bet. Prizes for this will vary between casinos. Some, including Caesars Entertainment properties, tie a progressive jackpot to this bet.
To play you simply need to place a bet on the ‘Trips’ square before the cards are dealt. If the best hand possible using your own hole cards and the community cards is 3 of a kind or better, you will get paid according to this pay table:
- Royal Flush: 50-to-1
- Straight Flush: 40-to-1
- 4 of a Kind: 30-to-1
- Full House: 9-to-1
- Flush: 7-to-1
- Straight: 4-to-1
- 3 of a Kind: 3-to-1
All other hands lose this bet. The Trips side bet is completely separate from the hand against the dealer. You could lose the main hand against the dealer, and still get paid on this side bet.
House edge for Ultimate Texas Hold’em
This game is much harder to play ‘perfectly’ compared to other casino table games. While the headline house edge is around 2.2% for your Ante and Blind bets, that assumes a perfect decision every time.
You also need to consider the variable amounts you are betting. A pre-flop Play bet will be 4 units. While the edge on those bets is 0.5%, you’ll be betting 4x your Ante – adding 2% house edge in terms of a single unit.
As usual the Trips side bet has a bigger edge for the casino. This is also a more volatile bet, only paying out for those rare 3 of a kind or better hands.
Where to legally play Ultimate Texas Hold’em online?
There are currently 4 states with legal online casinos where you can enjoy playing UTH online. With many other states legalizing sports betting and others considering casino games, it is hoped that this list will expand soon. The current states with regulated online casinos are:
Online casinos in these states offer table games including UTH via mobile phone (and iPhone) casino apps or on desktop computers via their browser-based casino clients. The casinos have geolocation technology which ensures they only allow gaming from inside state lines.
You’ll find software-based table games at all online casinos. As well as Ultimate Texas Hold’em there are blackjack tables, roulette wheels, 3 Card Poker games and many other variations of popular casino games. Most of the games at all online casinos are slots. These combine the popular games from live casinos with slots developed for casino apps.
Live dealer online UTH games
Live dealer rooms are popular at online casinos. These stream real games in real time from studios based at brick and mortar casinos. You can bet using an overlay, dragging and dropping chips as if you were sat at a real table. A big advantage of these games is the social interaction. You can text chat with the dealers and other players while you enjoy a game.
Keep in mind that the bets are a little bigger in live dealer casinos compared to the software versions. You will need to bet before a timer runs down. If you reach the river without responding in time, then you will automatically fold.
Ultimate Texas Hold’em and casino bonuses
There are many bonuses and free-play incentives at legal online casinos in the regulated states. You can take advantage of these by clearing them playing UTH or other table games. Typical bonus offers include small amounts of free play (no deposit needed), or a matched bonus based on your first deposit.
For table games, you need to check which games can be used for bonus clearance. A common way that casinos encourage players to clear bonuses on slots is to ‘weight’ the table games. This means that not all of the money you bet on UTH would be counted towards clearing the bonus. Weightings will vary between casinos. This means it can be worthwhile checking the terms and conditions of each bonus before you sign-up.
Ultimate Texas Hold’em FAQ
How big a casino bankroll should I have to play UTH?
You’ll be betting more units playing a hand of Ultimate Texas Hold’em compared to other casino poker variations. If you play the optional Trips side-bet, there are 3 units bet at the start of a hand. Betting pre-flop will then require 4 more units.
With 7 units per hand, you’ll need a bigger bankroll than the recommended 20 bets for most casino table games. 50 units ($250 at a $5 table) is enough to ride out the swings of this game. Balancing the requirement for a bigger bankroll, when the hands do go your way, you have the potential to win big.
Key to casino bankroll management is only betting money that you can afford to lose.
Is cheating at Ultimate Texas Hold’em possible?
No. The only way you could get an advantage in this game is by seeing the dealer’s hole-cards before they are revealed after the community cards were dealt. This would require marked cards or collusion with the dealer – and would be fraudulent.
Player collusion will give you an idea of which of your outs are still in the deck (for example if you were drawing to a flush). This is against the rules in casinos and is not possible online. Knowing this information would only reduce the house edge – not eliminate it.
With the single deck of cards shuffled between deals, card-counting is not possible.
Can I play UTG online?
Yes. You can legally enjoy Ultimate Texas Hold’em online in states which have legal/regulated mobile casinos. The current list is PA, NJ, MI and WV. With gambling regulation rapidly expanding, it is hoped that more states will join this list soon.
What are the pros and cons of online Ultimate Texas Hold’em and live games?
Online UTH games can be enjoyed for smaller stakes than the live equivalent. Software based games have stakes starting at under a dollar. You can enjoy these casinos on the move (via an Android or iPhone Casino app) or a desktop.
Live games include a much bigger social element. You can also find side bets with giant progressive jackpots at some live casinos.
How does UTH compare to Texas Hold’em poker
The original form of Texas Hold’em poker is a player-vs-player game. This is a game of skill and chance, with a big bluffing element. To win a pot you either show down the best hand – or get your opponent to fold.
UTH is very different from the game invented from poker in Texas. It uses a similar format, but is a casino gambling game with a long-term edge in favor of the house. The shared element is that the best 5 card poker hands are made from your hole cards and the 5 community cards.
Wrapping up: Ultimate Texas Hold’em
UTH is a popular game at both live and online casinos. Strategy is relatively complex compared to other casino table games. This keeps things interesting for players. A big attraction in Ultimate Texas Hold’em is that you can win extra for making the best poker hands.
Keep in mind that you’ll bet up to 4 units extra to raise on many hands. This means a bigger starting bankroll (or smaller bets) is needed compared to other casino poker games.