Ultimate Texas Holdem Poker Basic Strategy

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The basic strategy for Ultimate Texas Hold’em can seem a little complex, but the hardest and most important decision lies on whether to bet 4x pre-flop. This is where the player can take the most advantage of a good hand and get the most money out of it.

After the flop, the decision of whether to bet gets much easier. Basically, if you get at least a pair, you should bet 2x. The same goes for the 1x bet after the turn and river.

Many beginning players rarely bet 4x pre-flop because they are afraid to put in that much money without even seeing the flop and will most likely only go in with a royal pocket pair. This is fine because you should never bet something if you feel uncomfortable, but you will be leaving money on the table by not playing this basic strategy and taking advantage of odds that are in your favor.

To beginners, the game seems expensive since you have to bet the 3x the minimum bet just to see what the dealer has (BLIND, ANTE, and PLAY), but with this strategy, the odds are almost 50/50 with a casino edge of just 2.19%.

Without playing this optimal strategy and betting 4x pre-flop, players reduce their odds to a casino edge of about 9%. I have even read some articles that say that playing this strategy actually takes the players winning percentage above 50%, but due to the complexity of the game, this has yet to be proven. By playing the basic strategy, you give yourself the best chance against the casino.

This my favorite table game at casinos, and I have spent hours playing it. I love texas hold’em, and I love the chance of hitting it big with a straight flush or royal flush.

The basic strategy allows you to sit at the table for a long time by keeping the odds close to even and allowing you to accumulate casino comps and plenty of free drinks, which can make up for the slight disadvantage the players have.

Now let’s get into the basic strategy, which has been calculated using a program that takes tens of thousands of trial hands played out in full and shows the winning percentage of each opening hand.

The opening hands (the two cards dealt face-down to the player) that win more than 50% of the time are hands that should be bet 4x pre-flop, since the expected value of these bets is greater than zero. Now for the strategy…

1. NEVER PLAY TRIPS- all the other players at the table will be playing it, and many will be betting more on that than on the ANTE and BLIND.

This is just like playing the slots. If you are a slots player, then go for it. It can certainly provide some excitement if you hit a big hand, but if you are playing to try to beat the casino, then stay away from TRIPS. The odds are 43.82%.

This is where the casino makes all of its money because of the odds heavily favoring the casino. Every player at the table will look at you funny and tell you that TRIPS is where the money is.

Even the dealer will try to persuade you to play it because the casino tells them to encourage people to play it. Just remember the odds, and don’t give in.

These same players will most likely not be playing basic strategy for the rest of the game either. They may laugh at you when you hit a flush since you didn’t play TRIPS, but you still get paid of the BLIND bet.

The best part is that these players who laugh at you will most likely not last long and will lose all their money, while you are still sitting there either up or just slightly down.

I cannot tell you how many times this has happened to me, where I’ve even be made fun of, but an hour later, these players have already gone home disappointed after losing money.

2. Never use the 3x bet. If the odds are in your favor to bet pre-flop, then you want to bet as much as you can, which is 4x.

3. Bring enough money to withstand a cold streak. I recommend at a minimum bringing 100x the minimum bet.

4. Strategy Charts for when to bet 4x pre-flop, 2x post-flop, and 1x post-river. The first table (4x Bet) shows all the combinations of 2 cards a player can be dealt initially and whether to bet 4x with that combination.

All pocket pairs except 2’s and any combination with an Ace should bet 4x. The rest of the combinations can be found below. For the 2x bet and 1x bet tables, the possible player’s hands are in the top row.

Any hand better than a pair of 5’s (alone to the player and not just a table pair) should bet 2x, and almost every hand that pairs up should bet 1x. The exact circumstances of when to bet are below.

4x Pre-Flop Ultimate Hold’em Bet:

4x Bet

2x Post-Flop Ultimate Hold’em Bet:

Player’s Hand (In Addition to Any Table Pair)
2x Bet

1x Post-River Ultimate Hold’em Bet:

Player’s Hand (In Addition to Any Table Pair)
1x Bet

Some feedback (comments are closed):

“Are you sure this ultimate texas holdem strategy gives a casino edge of 2.15%? I just don’t get how in theory a player loses to the dealer in this game. The player gets to look at his cards and can decide whether to bet or not. The game is completely in the player’s hands.” ultimatetexan78

“Well if the dealer wins, he takes the blind, ante, and play bet. If the player wins, he has to get a straight or better to win anything off the blind bet. Also, if the player wins and the dealer doesn’t have at least a pair, the player wins nothing off the ante bet. Ultimate poker favors the dealer.” pokermania32

“yes i know how ultimate works, but even with these rules, I still feel like this game favors the player, especially with the 4x bet. You get to decide when to bet it, and you would only bet it with a good hand that will win more than it loses. A winning 4x bet hand can make up for several 1x loss and fold hands.” ultimatetexan78

“the play bet is in the player’s favor, but the ante and blind bets are in the dealer’s favor- they outweigh the player advantage on the play bet.” pokermania32

“Does anyone have some hard numbers on this? I know the advertised ultimate holdem casino edge is something around 2.1%, but i’m wondering more on where that number comes from. Any insight would be greatly appreciated.” ultimatetexan78

“i love the ultimate strategy charts- very neat, colorful, and easy to read. i want to find a way to print them out on little cards to take with me to the casino.” cathysgrw

“according to wizard of odds at http://wizardofodds.com/games/ultimate-texas-hold-em/ : ultimate texas hold’em casino edge = 2.185% the ante bet casino edge = 16.58% , blind casino edge = 31.47% , the play bet is in the player’s favor with a player’s edge of 45.86%” pokermania32

“Ok thanks. Ya I thought the play bet was heavily in the player’s favor. Didn’t realize just how much. For awhile, I thought the game was beatable because of the large player’s edge from the play bet, but I didn’t know the casino edge on the blind and ante was as big. Makes sense- thanks” ultimatetexan78

“The player’s edge on the play bet is only 45.86% if the player plays optimally using a basic strategy at least similar to this one. Most players don’t play by the basic strategy, especially on the 4x bet which knocks their player’s edge down considerably while still keeping the casino edge on ante and blind. These players cannot last long and will lose all their money very fast.” andymjablonski

“I read somewhere that players who rarely bet 4x raise the casino edge from 2% to about 9%.” pokermania32

“ya i’ve heard something similar, but it all depends on the player’s strategy and how rarely they bet 4x. ultimate holdem probably has more variability of strategies between players than any other game.” texasholdem00

“Good strategy. agree completely with the 4x bet, and I agree with all the yes’s for the 2x and 1x bet, but I think you may be leaving out a few things that you would still want to bet on.” Gamble777

“Like what? Those calculations are a little extensive for me to figure out. I mean you’re talking what a hand or two, which will probably not come up for just a recreational ultimate player.” pokermania32

“I have been playing at a casino that lets you bet only the trip or better bet. I have been doing pretty good & lasting longer with my money. The bonus is over $50,000 so I have not been worring about the back for just more hands in order to try and hit the bonus. Everyong is surprised as the hands I have not won, I would not have won the back anyway. Saved a lot of money this way & played more hands.” bobbi

“I read your strategy while in my room at Vegas and cleared almost 4 grand playing 15 dollars, I played long hours, but had a great time. As you predicted everyone around me including the dealer made fun of me for not playing the one circle, but everyone of the others went broke. One question Do you think it helps your odds to see the players on both sides of you cards? Thanks for the strategy.” james harris

“I recently started playing Ultimate Texas Hold’em and it’s been fun and profitable especially with the “bad beat bonus” which can pay really high. Yes, it’s an advantage to see other players’ cards and sometimes the dealers enforce the no share rule. The other night I bought in w/$70 and left within an hour and a half clearing $700! Great supplemental retirement income :^)” Youjewel

“Please explain how to read the Post Flop and River charts ! I don’t understand difference between “Table” and “Board” as used in tables ? Thanks” Don

“table and board mean the same thing here. a board pair just means a communal pair face up on the table, so the strategy charts are talking about the player’s hand in addition to any table or “board” pairs.” brewcrew8

“Question: If you are wiling to bet 1x for an ultimate poker hand, why would you pass on betting 4x for the same hand? If the hand is good enough to bet 1x, it should be good enough to bet 4x. For example, the 4x bet strategy says not to bet 4x for a hand with unsuited K-4, but when the 1x bet comes around, you are supposed to bet with any king. This doesn’t make any sense. If probability says to bet 1x with a hand, you should want to bet as much as possible since probability is in your favor. Over time, betting more when probability is in your favor will result in you making money.” confused

“that’s because you only bet 4x if it will give you a positive expected value for the game which takes a hand greater than 50%. However, when you are betting the 1x bet, you only need to bet 1, and if you lose, you only lose that 1 extra unit. If you win, you win 1 on the play bet and the ante bet. Also, by folding, you are giving up all original bets, and if you bet, you give yourself the chance to not lose those original bets and win something on top of them. As a result, you don’t need as good a hand to bet 1x as you do to bet 4x.” king jack

“with the 4x bet, you bet 4 but could win 4 off the play bet and 1 off the ante as well as a chance at something off the blind bet. so i don’t really understand your reasoning king jack” poker player

“Love the 4x bet strategy but why not bet it with pocket 2’s?” aces

“There are several hands like pocket 2’s and 10-9 suited that have better than a 50% chance against a random hand. But this does NOT mean that you should bet 4x because of the rule where the dealer must have at least a pair to qualify for the ANTE bet. Roughly half the time, the dealer will have a pair, which will beat pocket 2’s. The player would lose 6 units if he bet the 4x bet. The other half the time, the dealer will have a high card and not qualify, so the player will only win 4 (BLIND pushes with less than a straight). Therefore, just having a hand that is better than 50% is not enough to return a positive expected value for the 4x bet.” buddy william

“yes, but you would bet a pair of 2’s almost everytime after the river for the 1x bet, except for a couple of rare scenarios. I feel like these rare scenarios are outweighed by the 4% chance of catching a 3 of a kind. Therefore, if you would bet it 1x, why wouldn’t you bet it 4x because if the odds are in your favor, then you should bet with as much as you can.” aces

“This site uses a basic strategy that doesn’t ignore the original bets, so you need more than just a 50% hand to bet. Therefore, the strategy for each round of betting uses hands that will give the player a positive expected value for the whole game including the original bets. By betting when this strategy says to, you will make money more times than not on the hand.” buddy william