Now, strategy for
Ultimate Texas Hold’em

Feb 20, 2006 4:25 AM

(Part 2 of a two-part series)

Last week, I covered the basics of Shuffle Master’s Texas Hold’em entry into the casino pit — Ultimate Texas Hold’em. Besides covering the rules of play, I went through the strategy for when to raise 4x, and when to check after the first two cards.

This week, I will cover the last two wagers and some of the other statistics of the game. As I warned last week, expert strategy for the final wagers can get extremely complex, because of the nature of any game with community cards.

Because of this, I am presenting a slightly simplified strategy for the 2x wager that will be far easier for the player to follow, yet will still achieve a payback of 98.90% instead of the full 99.16% that expert strategy can achieve.

The second decision point will occur after the dealer has turned the first three community cards. At this point, any player that did not bet 4x before the flop will have the option to either bet 2x his ante or to check again. The player should bet the 2x if any of the following cases:

”¡ If the player has at least a two pair or better, except in the case where the player’s hand is a three of a find, made up entirely of the flop.

”¡ If the player has the top pair (his pocket card pairs with the highest community card).

”¡ If the player has the mid pair.

”¡ If the player has the bottom pair, he should raise 2x if one of the following conditions is true: The community cards to not form a 3-Card flush, a 3-Card straight or a 3-Card inside straight unless when combined with the player’s cards, the player has a 4-Card Flush or a 4-Card straight.

”¡ If the player has a 4-Card straight flush or a 4-Card inside straight flush

”¡ If the player does not have at least a pair, then he has to a little quick math. Rank each of the 5 cards with a 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, with 5 meaning the highest rank card, a 4 means the 2nd highest ranking card, etc”¦

”¡ If he has a 4-Card Flush and the ranking of his two pocket cards is 7 or higher.

”¡ If he has a 4-Card Straight and the ranking of his two pocket cards is 8 or higher.

Playing this strategy will result in betting 2x about 21% of the time. The player will win about 65% of the hands when betting 2x.

The final decision the player will need to make if he decides to check on the 4x and 2x wager is whether or not to fold or bet 1x after seeing all of the community cards. The math behind this decision is a bit different because the option to check doesn’t exist. This means that the player will actually be betting 1x his Ante even in the case of some net losers because it will still be better to do this than to Fold. A large part of the strategy at this point will involve what is known in poker circles as counting ”˜outs.’ This means that you will have to figure out how many different cards the Dealer may have that can beat you. In the end, the strategy is as follows:

Bet 1x if the player has a straight or better, even if all of the cards are made up of community cards. You will occasionally lose, but not frequently, and given that you will not be eligible for the Blind Bonus if you fold, the risk is worth it.

Bet 1x if you have a Three of a Kind or Two Pair that is at least partially made up of your own pocket cards

If the board (the community cards) is showing a Three of a Kind or a Two Pair, (and your pocket cards do not improve the hand, except via a kicker) count the outs that the Dealer has. If he has 24 or less outs, Bet 1X. Don’t forget that a higher kicker may beat you as well.

If the player has a Pair (not made up of only community cards), he should bet 1x if any of the following is true:

The board does not contain a 4-Card Straight or a 4-Card Flush

The board contains a 4-Card Straight or 4-Card Flush, but the player’s pair is NOT the Bottom Pair (i.e. the lowest ranking card on the board)

The board contains a 4-Card Straight AND a 4-Card Flush, but the player’s pair is greater than or equal to the third highest ranking card on the board.

If the board contains a Pair, and the player’s hand does not improve the hand (except via kickers), the player should bet 1x if the Dealer has 24 or less outs.

If the player’s hand ranks less than a Pair, he should FOLD if any of the following is true:

”¡ The community cards shows a 4-Card Flush

”¡ The community cards shows a 4-Card Straight

”¡ There is 1 additional kicker that can beat the player AND 1 of the following is true:

”¡ The board contains a 4-Card Inside Straight

”¡ The board contains both a 3-Card Straight and a 3-Card Flush

When all is said and done, the player will Fold about 15% of the time, and he will bet 1x about 26% of the time. About 30% of the time, the dealer will not qualify. Remember that in UTH, when the dealer does not qualify, only the player’s ante is pushed and the rest of the wagers remain in play. Unlike a game like Three Card Poker, this makes the strategy of never folding an absolute disaster. A player can expect to wager about 4.2 units per hand, which means that you better show up to the table with a decent starting bankroll.

Ultimate Texas Hold’em requires learning a significantly complex strategy in order to achieve the full theoretical payback of about 99%. At the same time, there are very few table games that can offer this high of a payback.