Texas Hold’em Bonus Poker

Texas Holdem Bonus Poker logoDuring the height of the “poker boom” – which occurred between 2003 and 2006 after accountant and amateur card player Chris Moneymaker won the World Series of Poker (WSOP) Main Event – table game designers were scrambling to get in on the action.

Games like Hold’em Challenge, Heads Up Hold’em, and Ultimate Texas Hold’em came and went, each one attempting to replicate the essence of “the Cadillac of Poker.”

Beginnings of the Game

In 2004 the Mikohn Gaming Corporation released its own take on a hybrid table game known as Texas Hold’em Bonus Poker. The company, which was founded in 1986, developed both table game concepts and the technology and equipment used to operate those games. In 1998, Mikohn Gaming acquired the rights to Caribbean Stud Poker along with its purchase of rival Progressive Games.

With the launch of Texas Hold’em Bonus Poker, Mikohn Gaming sought to capitalize on the immense worldwide popularity of the No Limit variety of Texas Hold’em popularized through ESPN’s broadcasts of the WSOP. At the time, Bob Parente, who served as Mikohn Gaming’s Executive Vice President of Sales, issued a statement explaining the genesis of the new game:

“The resurgence of interest in the game of poker as a result of the multitude of tournaments and televised events makes the introduction of Texas Hold ‘Em Bonus Poker a natural. With its similarities to regular Hold ‘Em, we expect Texas Hold ‘Em Bonus Poker to attract both poker and table game newcomers, as well as cater to regular poker players waiting for a seat in the poker room.”

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The Game at a Glance

The concept of Texas Hold’em Bonus Poker is quite simple, transforming the player versus player gameplay of traditional Hold’em poker into a player versus dealer table game. The same basic structure is used across both games, so players start out with two personal cards (the “hole” cards) before seeing five community cards dealt out. By combining one or both of your hole cards with the community card board, the objective of the game is to form the best possible five-card poker hand – or at the very least, one which beat’s the dealer’s holding.

If that construct reminds you at all of another game known as Casino Hold’em, your intuition is spot on. Texas Hold’em Bonus Poker plays out in almost the exact same fashion as Casino Hold’em, with only a few small adjustments to the betting pattern and payouts thrown in to differentiate the two games. And considering that Casino Hold’em was invented in 2000, a full four years before Texas Hold’em Bonus Poker, it’s only natural to assume that the latter game was patterned after its predecessor.

Steady Growth of the Game

Although the poker boom eventually came to an end, and Texas Hold’em receded somewhat from the public consciousness, Texas Hold’em Bonus Poker carved out enough of a niche within the crowded table game industry to become a widespread offering. The majority of land-based casinos in North America, Europe, and Australia spread the game on a regular basis through dedicated installations.

Texas Hold’em Bonus Poker was even successfully adapted for play via online casinos, as several major software providers have created their own versions of the now classic game.

Recent Changes in Proprietorship

During the last few years, Texas Hold’em Bonus Poker has changed hands on more than one occasion. First, Mikohn Gaming was purchased by a rival game development firm known as Progressive Gaming International in 2004. By 2009, the combined company, now operating under the Progressive Gaming name, was forced to sell off its assets to International Gaming Technology following a bankruptcy liquidation.

At some point, Bally Technologies acquired the rights to Texas Hold’em Bonus Poker, and in 2014 Bally was taken over by Scientific Games, which now operates both the Bally and SHFL Entertainment brands.

Continued Popularity of the Game

Despite the seemingly constant state of fluctuation on the backend, Texas Hold’em Bonus Poker has persevered to become one of the more widely played table games of the modern era. With that in mind, this page was written to provide all the information a beginner needs to get started. We’ll run through the rules and gameplay procedures, including available wagers, player actions, and payouts, along with a running example hand to help clarify certain points. Next up is a guide to locating the game in your favorite casinos, followed by a strategy section designed to improve your play and understanding of the game.

Rules and How to Play

Rules iconBefore diving into the nuts and bolts of Texas Hold’em Bonus Poker, we recommend starting out with our page on Casino Hold’em (which is also known as Caribbean Hold’em). Texas Hold’em Bonus Poker is clearly modeled on Casino Hold’em, so it’s good to have a firm understanding of both games so you can tell the differences between the two.

Game Overview

A standard 52 card deck of playing cards is used, and all cards hold their traditional poker values, so 2s are the lowest rank while Aces are the highest.

A single deck is used and reshuffled upon completion of each hand, in lieu of the multiple deck shoe used in many table games.

The objective of the game is to combine your two hole cards with the five community cards on the board to form the best possible five-card poker hand. You may use either one or both of your hole cards in combination with the community cards, but you can’t “play the board” – or use all five community cards to form your own hand.

Just in case you need a refresher course on how poker hands are valued, take a look below for the traditional poker hand hierarchy:

Poker Hand Hierarchy Table
HAND DESCRIPTION
Royal Flush Broadway straight (A K Q J 10) in the same suit
Straight Flush Five consecutive cards (Q J 10 9 8) in the same suit
Four of a Kind Four of same card (Q Q Q Q A)
Full House Three of a kind + one pair (Q Q Q A A)
Flush Five cards in the same suit (8h 10h Qh Kh Ah)
Straight Five consecutive cards (Q J 10 9 8)
Three of a Kind Three of same card (Q Q Q 9 8)
Two Pair Two pairs of the same card (Q Q A A 8)
One Pair One pair of the same card (Q Q 4 3 2)
High Card No pair, highest card is rank of hand (A K 10 9 8)

How to Play Texas Hold’em Bonus Poker

Step #1: Place an Ante Bet

To begin the game, players must put up a mandatory Ante bet. At this time, you can also make an optional wager known as the Bonus bet (which will be described in detail after the base game rules have been explained).

Throughout the rest of this section, we’ll return to a running example hand as a way of showing you how crucial gameplay concepts work from the player’s perspective. So for the betting round, we’ll put up a simple $5 wager on the Ante bet, along with $5 more on the Bonus side bet.

Step #2: The Dealer Distributes the Cards

When all players have anted up, the dealer will then toss two cards face down to each player, along with two cards face down to themselves. You can check out your own hole cards of course, but be careful not to flash your hand, or otherwise share information with fellow players, as this is strictly prohibited by the pit.

In the running example hand, we are dealt the 6h 6c to start the hand with one “pocket” pair of sixes. The term pocket pair simply refers to paired hole cards, rather than a pair made using one hole card and one community card.

Step #3: Players Decide to Fold or See the Flop

Once you’ve taken a peek at your hole cards, the game’s first player decision point has arrived: Fold or see the Flop.

By folding, you give up the hand without further contest, parting ways with any bets you have in play.

By seeing the “flop,” or the first three community cards, you elect to continue in the hand. This will cost you a Flop bet which must total twice the amount of your original Ante bet.

For the running example hand, we already have a pair to work with, which is quite a strong holding in any Hold’em based game. So we’ll go ahead and make the Flop bet for $10, or twice the size of our Ante bet ($5 x 2 = $10).

Step #4: The Dealer Shows the First 3 Cards

When all players have either folded or placed the Flop bet, the dealer will then take the first three cards from the deck and place them face up on the felt. These are the first three of five community cards which you can use to form your final five-card poker hand.

For the running example hand, the dealer has flopped the 2d 5s Kc. We still have one pair of sixes, so unless the dealer has a King in the hole, flopped three of a kind with 2 2 or 5 5, or has a higher pocket pair than we do, we’re still ostensibly in the lead.

Step #5: Players Decide to Check or Make a Turn Bet

With the flop now revealed, the game’s second player decision point takes place: Check or make the Turn bet.

By checking, you simply stand pat and continue on in the hand without making an additional wager.

By making the Turn bet, you’ll put up another wager, but this time, it must be equal to the size of your Ante bet – and not double.

In the running example hand we still like the look of our pocket pair of 6s, so we’ll toss in another $5 chip for the Turn bet.

Step #6: The Dealer Shows Another Card

After all players have run through this decision, the dealer will produce the fourth community card from the top of the deck.

Our running example hand gets a little more interesting when the dealer delivers the 6d on the turn. The board now reads 2d 5s Kc 6d and we have improved to three of a kind, which is a huge hand in Texas Hold’em Bonus Poker.

Step #7: Players Decide to Check or Make the River Bet

After the turn card is dealt, you’ll reach the third and final player decision point: Check or make the River bet.

Checking is the same as described above while making the River bet will cost you an additional wager equal to the size of your Ante bet.

For the running example hand, we’ll make the River bet for $5 more, as we hold what poker players call a “monster” hand.

Step #8: The Dealer Reveals the Last Card

When all players have either checked or made the River bet, the dealer will reveal the fifth and final community card.

In the running example hand, the dealer turns over the 2c to complete a final board of 2d 5s Kc 6d 2c. Our 6h 6c has improved from three of a kind to a full house, as we play a final five card poker hand of 6h 6c 6d 2d 2c.

Step #9: The Dealer Builds His Best Hand

After putting out the river card, the dealer will then turn over their own two-card starting hand and form their best possible five card poker hand for the showdown.

The dealer in our running example hand has the goods, showing down Ah Ks for top pair with one pair of Kings, which would usually be good enough for a winner. Our full house is best, though, so we’ve won this round.

Step #10: Compare Hands

Upon reaching the showdown, if the dealer produces a superior hand, you’ll lose all pending bets (except for the Bonus side bet, which is settled separately).

When you hold the better hand, however, you’ll win even money on the Flop, Turn, and/or River bets. As for the Ante bet, you’ll need a straight or better in order to win even money on this wager, otherwise, it will be returned as a push.

On occasions when your hand ties the dealer’s hand exactly, you’ll have all base game bets (Ante, Flop, Turn, and River) returned as a push.

We can use the running example hand to see how this payout scheme shakes out. We’ve beaten the dealer’s hand with our full house over their pair of kings. Thus, we’d earn even money on the Flop ($10), Turn ($5), and River ($5) bets for a total profit of $20.

As for the Ante bet, we did indeed make a hand higher than a straight, so we also earn $5 in an even money payout on that wager. All told, for the base game bets, we put up $25 total ($5 Ante + $10 Flop + $5 Turn + $5 River = $25), and we profited at a rate of 1 to 1 on all wagers.

The Bonus Bet Payout

When it comes to the Bonus side bet, this wager is paid out based on your two-card starting hand and/or the dealer’s equivalent. This means that it doesn’t matter who wins or loses the base game hand for the Bonus side bet, and only your two-card starting hand, and/or the dealer’s, will be considered.

The following pay table is used to adjudicate the Bonus side bet in Texas Hold’em Bonus Poke in Las Vegas and Nevada casinos:

Texas Hold’em Bonus Poker Bonus Side Bet Pay Table (Las Vegas)
HANDS PAYS
Player has A A + Dealer has A A 1000 to 1
Player has A A 30 to 1
Player has A K suited 25 to 1
Player has A Q or A J suited 20 to 1
Player has A K unsuited 15 to 1
Player has K K, Q Q, or J J 10 to 1
Player has A Q or A J unsuited 5 to 1
Player has Pair 2 2 to 10 10 3 to 1
All other Loss

And the following pay table is used in Atlantic City, New Jersey:

Texas Hold’em Bonus Poker Bonus Side Bet Pay Table (Atlantic City)
HANDS PAYS
Player has A A 30 to 1
Player has A K suited 25 to 1
Player has A Q or A J suited 20 to 1
Player has A K unsuited 15 to 1
Player has K K, Q Q, or J J 10 to 1
Player has A Q or A J unsuited 5 to 1
Player has Pair 2 2 to 10 10 3 to 1
All other Loss

The only difference between the two pay tables above is that Las Vegas rules offer a whopping 1,000 to 1 “jackpot” payout whenever you happen to hold pocket aces against the dealer’s pocket aces.

For the running example hand, our 6 6 qualifies for a 3 to 1 payout on either pay table, so we collect an extra $15 on our $5 Bonus side bet.

When all bets have been settled, the dealer will collect the cards, reshuffle the deck, and begin a new hand.

Best Places to Play Texas Hold’em Bonus Poker

poker imageWith a game like Texas Hold’em Bonus Poker, which has been around for more than a decade, your chances of finding an open table at any casino are pretty high. From small local card rooms to tribal gaming enterprises and, of course, the gambling meccas of Las Vegas and Atlantic City, this game has become a staple offering all over America and abroad.

To help narrow the search just a bit, we consulted the only table game finding tool provided by a major casino operator, which happens to be Caesars Entertainment. According to their table game finder, the following Caesars owned casino properties around the country currently offer Texas Hold’em Bonus Poker:

Venue City State/Province
Bally’s Las Vegas Hotel & Casino Las Vegas Nevada
Bally’s Atlantic City Hotel & Casino Atlantic City New Jersey
Flamingo Las Vegas Hotel & Casino Las Vegas Nevada
Harrah’s Gulf Coast Hotel & Casino Biloxi Mississippi
Harrah’s Las Vegas Hotel & Casino Las Vegas Nevada
Harrah’s New Orleans Hotel & Casino New Orleans Louisiana
Horseshoe Hammond Casino Hammond Indiana
Horseshoe Southern Indiana Casino Elizabeth Indiana
Paris Las Vegas Hotel & Casino Las Vegas Nevada
The Cromwell Las Vegas Nevada
The LINQ Las Vegas Nevada

Other non Caesars casino properties in Las Vegas which are known to spread the game include the New York New York, the MGM Grand, the Monte Carlo, the Luxor, the Excalibur and the Rio.

But these lists are by no means comprehensive, and you can find Texas Hold’em Bonus Poker being played everywhere from the Hollywood Casino Hotel & Raceway in Bangor, Maine, to the Adelaide Casino in Australia.

When in doubt, feel free to call up your favorite casino venue and ask for the table games manager there. Inquiring about the status of Texas Hold’em Bonus Poker doesn’t cost a thing, and even if you don’t find it on the first try, a helpful casino employee in the know should be able to give you a few helpful hints on competitors which carry the game.

Playing the Game Online

online texas holdem bonus pokerAs for online casinos, the most widely played virtual version of the game is offered by Microgaming, which means you’ll find it on any platform which runs the company’s software to power its game menu.

For a list of Microgaming affiliated online casinos, ordered in terms of player generated rankings on a widely used industry review site, see below:

Microgaming Casinos

  • Spin Palace Casino
  • Golden Riviera Casino
  • Crazy Vegas Casino
  • Wild Jackpots Casino
  • Mummy’s Gold Casino
  • Trada Casino
  • Casino Ventura
  • Tipbet Casino
  • Casino British
  • Dizzy Win Casino
  • Slot Alerts Casino
  • Dukes Casino
  • Go Wild Casino
  • Casino Epoca
  • Omni Slots Casino
  • Gaming Club Casino
  • Cabaret Club Casino
  • Maple Casino
  • Ruby Fortune Casino
  • 7 Sultans Casino
  • BetChan Casino
  • Dunder Casino
  • Casino Mate
  • Lucky Nugget Casino
  • Cruise Casino
  • Casino of Dreams
  • Maxiplay Casino
  • BetBright Casino
  • Hippodrome Casino

Strategic Considerations for Texas Hold’em Bonus Poker

Betting Strategy iconSurprisingly, for a game with such longstanding history – 10 years of steady play in an eternity in the table game world – Texas Hold’em Bonus Poker hasn’t been “cracked” as of yet by game theory analysis.

While optimal strategy charts dictating the most profitable, and thus the correct, play for every possible scenario have been calculated for dozens of other games, that feat still eludes even top casino game experts.

Advice From the Experts

As always, the best source of strategic thinking on this, or any, casino game is Michael Shackleford and his Wizard of Odds site. On Shackleford’s main page for the game, you’ll find a detailed analysis of the expected return for every single two-card starting hand you can receive.

Due to the game’s use of community cards and the complexity of poker hand draws and “outs,” a full strategy for playing your hands isn’t in the cards, but Shackleford does offer the follow guidelines for playing your starting hand before the flop:

  • When holding an unsuited 2 3, 2 4, 2 5, 2 6, or 2 7, you should always fold before the flop
  • When holding any other hand, you should always make the Flop bet

A Different Strategic Approach

These pre-flop rules are simple enough to remember, but we have to turn to the Discount Gambling blog, ran casino game enthusiast and analyst Stephen How, for a broader take on post flop strategy.

According to How, the following guidelines can be used to govern your play after the flop. But as How mentions in his analysis, this “simple strategy” deviates enough from perfect strategy to inflate the house edge.

Analysis of the House Edge

Under optimal game conditions, in which the player is making every possible decision correctly, the house edge working against you stands at 2.04 percent. But by incorporating How’s simple strategy, the house edge rises to 2.90 percent.

In any event, this house edge rate is perfectly acceptable within the world of table games, and especially the Texas Hold’em themed variety. When playing Ultimate Texas Hold’em, for example, the house edge stands at 2.18 percent, while Three Card Hold’em runs a house edge of 3.05 percent.

So from a strategic standpoint, using How’s simple strategy may not be perfect, but it’s the best we have to work with. And after all, it definitely beats making your plays based on gut instinct alone.

Take a look below to see the way How advises making post flop decisions in Texas Hold’em Bonus Poker:

Stephen How’s Simple Strategy

FLOP

After seeing the flop, you should always make the Turn bet when holding the following hands; otherwise, you should check:

  • Two pairs or better
  • Any pocket pair (paired hole cards), with at least one lower card on the board
  • Any pair (one hole card + one board card) with any other draw (straight, flush, etc.)
  • Any bottom pair unless the board is all suited cards
  • Any combined draw with both straight and flush draws
  • A 10 high flush draw or better
  • Any open-ended straight draw, with both hole cards being 8 or better
  • Any high cards (higher than the board) on a three of a kind board
  • Any high cards (higher than the board) on a paired board

TURN

After seeing the turn, you should always make the River bet when holding the following hands; otherwise, you should check:

  • Two pairs or better, except for a pair on board combined with a lower pocket pair
  • Any pair except bottom pair or a pocket pair lower than the lowest card on board
  • An ace on a double paired board
  • Any open ended straight draw or Jack high flush draw, except on scare boards (flush boards when holding a straight draw, double paired boards when holding a flush draw)

These guidelines may seem like common sense, and perhaps they are, but How’s analysis shows that you can enjoy a sub 3.00 percent house edge game simply by making the clear play. In traditional player versus player poker games, those who chase bad draws or refuse to check when the situation warrants are invariably punished.

Playing the Game Correctly

The same holds true for Texas Hold’em Bonus Poker. The best strategy is to develop a keen card sense and literally “know when to hold’em, and know when to fold’em.” If you can stay disciplined and decline to make unnecessary bets when holding marginal hands, while maximizing the action when you have the edge, you’ll play this game as close to correctly as is possible today.

Avoid the Bonus Side Bet

Caution iconFinally, when considering the relative merits of the Bonus side bet, remember these numbers: 8.54 percent and 8.90 percent. Respectively, these are the house edge rates for the optional wager under the Las Vegas and Atlantic City pay tables. In both cases, this high house edge puts the Bonus side bet squarely in the “sucker bet” category, so strategically minded players should avoid this added expense.