Triple Action Hold’em

Triple Action Holdem logoThe original trademark application to protect a hybrid table game concept known as Triple Action Hold’em was filed in 2007 by Al J. Ethier.

Little can be found about Ethier’s connection to the casino gambling industry, but by early 2009 he had secured a debut installation for his new game at the historic Binion’s Horseshoe Gambling Hall and Hotel. This setting seems to make sense, as Triple Action Hold’em is clearly designed to emulate “the Cadillac of Poker,” or Texas Hold’em.

Game Overview

Binion’s Horseshoe, located in Downtown Las Vegas, was the original home of the World Series of Poker (WSOP) from the event’s inception in 1970 through 2004. With such a deep-rooted history with Texas Hold’em, it’s no surprise that the table game folks at Binion’s Horseshoe decided to take a shot on Ethier’s new game.

Triple Action Hold’em is a standard table game offering, pitting player against the dealer in a battle to form the best five-card poker hand. In a curious twist, Ethier removed nearly half of the cards used in a standard 52 card deck for his game, creating a modified 28 card deck which features only 8s, 9s, 10s, Jacks, Queens, Kings, and Aces. In any event, the objective of the game is to turn your two cards Hold’em starting hand into a proper five-card poker hand, using the three community cards known as the “flop” in traditional forms of Hold’em.

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Brief History of The Game

Perhaps arriving a little late to the party, Triple Action Hold’em first appeared about three years after the famed “poker boom” brought Hold’em into millions of American homes. With ESPN broadcasting wall to wall footage of the WSOP, and Chris Moneymaker proving to millions of hopefuls that anybody can win the big one, poker was a proper fad between 2003 and 2006. Unfortunately, when the federal government put the clamps down on websites offering online poker, the craze ended abruptly, and poker returned to its usual status as a niche game.

This may explain why Triple Action Hold’em failed to spread within the world of brick and mortar casinos. Following its debut installation at Binion’s Horseshoe, the game doesn’t seem to have secured further placements in additional casinos.

An online casino game developer known as Microgaming, which provides the software powering hundreds of online casino brands around the world, did decide to partner with a company called Games Marketing to create an online version of Triple Action Hold’em. Today, the only place to find the game seems to be at a Microgaming powered online casino.

This page was written to provide a guide to the game of Triple Action Hold’em, beginning with a detailed description of the rules and gameplay procedures. Next, up we’ll run through a list of places to find the game, including the most reputable Microgaming client casinos, followed by a section on proper strategy to help make the best decisions at the table.

Rules and How to Play

Modification of the Decks

poker cards imageRather than the standard 52 card deck used in most card games, Triple Action Hold’em has removed 24 cards to create a special 28 card deck. The cards which have been taken out are the 2s, 3s, 4s, 5s, 6s, and 7s, which means you’ll be playing with the 8s, 9s, 10s, Js, Qs, Ks, and As only.

Only one deck is used on each hand, and reshuffled afterwards, rather than the multiple deck shoe used in many table games.

Aside from this modification, the usual poker card rankings still apply, so Aces are the highest rank, followed by Kings, then Queens, and so on.

Objective of the Game

The objective of the game is to combine your two-card starting hand (the “hole” cards) with three community cards (the “flop”) to create the best possible five card poker hand. All players and the dealer can make use of the community cards to form their final hand, and you’ll be trying to beat the dealer in order to earn a payout.

For readers who need a quick refresher on how to compare poker hands, see below for the traditional poker hand hierarchy:

Poker Hand Hierarchy Table
Royal FlushBroadway straight (A K Q J 10) in the same suit
Straight FlushFive consecutive cards (Q J 10 9 8) in the same suit
Four of a KindFour of same card (Q Q Q Q A)
Full HouseThree of a kind + one pair (Q Q Q A A)
FlushFive cards in the same suit (8h 10h Qh Kh Ah)
StraightFive consecutive cards (Q J 10 9 8)
Three of a KindThree of same card (Q Q Q 9 8)
Two PairTwo pairs of the same card (Q Q A A 8)
One PairOne pair of the same card (Q Q 10 9 8)
High CardNo pair, highest card is rank of hand (A K 10 9 8)

Even with the removal of almost half the deck, you can still make any of the poker hands shown above while playing Triple Action Hold’em.

How to Play Triple Action Hold’em

Step #1: Place an Ante Bet

The game begins with players putting up a mandatory Ante bet. At this time, you may also choose to put up one, or both, of the game’s optional wagers: the Flop bet and the Bonus bet.

In each case, these optional wagers entitle players to an escalating pay table, provided they make strong enough hands. Make sure to read through to the strategy section, though, as you’ll learn which bets to make and which ones to avoid.

Moving on throughout the rest of this section, we’ll return to a running example hand to help illustrate important gameplay concepts from the player’s perspective. So, to help show you every aspect of the game, we’ll place a $5 chip on the Ante bet, $5 on the Flop bet, and $5 more on the Bonus bet.

Step #2: The Dealer Hands Out the Cards

When all players have put up their preferred wagers, the dealer will then deliver two cards face down to each player, along with two cards to themselves. The dealer’s hand will show one card face up (the “up” card), along with one hole card which remains face down.

At this time, the dealer will also take the first three cards from the top of the deck and place them face down in the center of the table. These cards represent the flop, which will be revealed later on in the hand.

For the running example hand, we’ve been dealt the Kh Qh to begin. The dealer shows the Js as their up card.

Step #3: Players Decide to Fold or Raise

After taking a peek at your hole cards (you can check out your own hand, but no sharing of information between players will be allowed), the game’s first player decision point takes place: Fold or Raise.

By folding, you just give up right then and there, surrendering your cards to the dealer – along with your Ante bet and/or Flop bet. The Bonus bet, meanwhile, remains live even after you fold.

By raising, you elect to continue on in the hand to see the flop and head to the showdown, but this will cost you an additional wager equal to the size of your Ante bet.

In the running example hand, we have two suited face cards with the Kh Qh, so we’ll go ahead and make the Raise bet for an additional $5.

Step #4: The Dealer Reveals His Hole Card

When all players have either folded or made the Raise bet, the dealer will then reveal their hole card, along with the three card flop.

Back to the running example hand, the dealer shows the As along with their Js, giving them a very good starting hand. The flop rolls out Kc Qd Jc, however, and we make two pairs to take command of the hand. The dealer connects with the flop too, but they only have one pair of Jacks.

Step #5: Qualification of the Dealer’s Hand

Upon reaching the showdown, the dealer must produce a hand valued at one pair of 9s or better in order to “qualify.” Dealer qualification is important because this will determine which of your wagers will be paid out.

On occasions when the dealer doesn’t qualify, your Ante bet will be paid out at even money, while your Raise bet will be returned as a push. Even if you don’t have a better hand, a non-qualifying dealer hand will result in this payout scheme being applied.

Step #6: Determine a Winner and Collect the Payout

When the dealer does qualify, your five card poker hand will be compared to theirs to determine the winner.

If you hold the superior hand, the Ante bet and the Raise bet will be paid out at even money.

If the dealer holds the winner, you’ll lose both the Ante bet and the Raise bet.

If your hand ties the dealer’s hand exactly, you’ll have both bets returned as a push.

We can use the running example hand to see how these base game bets are settled. We’ve beaten the dealer with two pairs versus their one pair, and the dealer’s hand did indeed qualify. Thus, we’d receive an even money payout on the Ante bet, for a $5 profit, along with the same on the Raise bet for $5 more.

Step #7: The Ante Bonus Payout

For players who didn’t fold and made the Raise bet instead, making a hand valued at a full house or better will trigger an additional “Ante Bonus” – or an extra payout on top of the even money return. You don’t need to beat the dealer to claim this Ante Bonus, so if you show down a monster, only to suffer a “bad beat” when the dealer rolls over a better hand, you’ll still win some on the side for the Ante Bonus.

The Ante Bonus pay table can be reviewed below:

Ante Bonus Pay Table
Royal Flush50 to 1
Straight Flush20 to 1
Flush6 to 1
Four of a Kind4 to 1
Full House2 to 1
All OtherNone

In the running example hand, we only have two pairs, so we wouldn’t be eligible for an Ante Bonus payout. However, part of the game’s appeal lies in this pay table, as it doesn’t cost anything extra aside from the standard Ante bet, and landing big hands like a straight flush or royal flush can produce huge payouts.

Step #8: The Flop and Bonus Bets Payouts

As for the optional Flop bet and Bonus bet, these wagers don’t depend on you beating the dealer to generate a payout. In other words, even if you happen to lose the base game hand, you can still win money when you qualify for a win on either one of these optional wagers.

The pay table used to settle the Flop bet can be reviewed below:

Flop Bet Pay Table
Straight Flush10 to 1
Three of a Kind10 to 1
Flush4 to 1
Straight2 to 1
One Pair (Js or better)1 to 1
All OtherLoss

In the running example hand, we put $5 on the Flop bet, but even though we made two pairs, we don’t win using this curiously designed pay table.

The pay table used to settle the Bonus bet is shown below:

Bonus Bet Pay Table
Royal Flush100 to 1
Straight Flush50 to 1
Flush25 to 1
Four of a Kind15 to 1
Full House8 to 1
Straight6 to 1
Three of a Kind3 to 1
Two Pair1 to 1
All OtherLoss

In the running example hand, our $5 wager on the Bonus bet would return a $5 payout at even money, because we landed two pairs.

With so many pay tables, and the similarly named Bonus bet and Ante Bonus payout, one can begin to see why Triple Action Hold’em never managed to develop a fervent fan base.

Step #9: Reshuffle and Restart the Game

After the dealer has settled all wagers, they’ll collect the cards, reshuffle the deck, and begin a new hand.

Best Places to Play Triple Action Hold’em

poker imageWhen it comes to brick and mortar casinos, it appears as though Triple Action Hold’em has joined the ranks of obsolete games which are no longer in operation.

The game first appeared at Binion’s Horseshoe in Downtown Las Vegas, but that was several years ago, and the historic property no longer mentions Triple Action Hold’em on its website.

A search through the Caesars Entertainment table game finder tool produces no results, and all told, no live venue could be located which carries the game.

Playing The Game online

For online casino fans, Triple Action Hold’em has been adapted by the Microgaming software development company. This means you’ll be able to find Triple Action Hold’em tables running at any Microgaming powered online casino.

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Strategic Considerations for Triple Action Hold’em

Betting Strategy iconSurprisingly, for a game with multiple wagers and player decision points, the overall strategy for Triple Action Hold’em can be boiled down to a hard and fast set of rules governing which bets to make.

This makes sense, as you can’t discard or draw cards to improve your hand, or place increased wagers based on the cards you hold. In that sense, Triple Action Hold’em actually plays much more like a game of chance like Casino War, where players simply place their bets and wait to see what the cards have to say.

General Guidelines

In this game, the proper strategy has been defined as follows:

  • Never make the Flop bet
  • Never make the Bonus bet
  • Always make the Raise bet, and never Fold

By sticking to this strategy, the gameplay during a session of Triple Action Hold’em may feel a bit dry, as you’ll only make the Ante bet and always make the Raise bet.

Understanding the Strategy

Without the allure of the Flop bet and Bonus bet pay tables, you’ll be playing for even money payouts and all but a few hands (you can still earn the Ante Bonus by making powerful hands). However, mathematical analysis has shown that the Flop bet and Bonus bet both offer worse odds than Ante bet.

Consider that the Flop bet carries a house edge of 2.93 percent, while the Bonus bet runs at 5.38 percent.

Clearly, the Bonus bet should be avoided at all times, as a house edge of more than 5 percent is simply untenable for table game players over the long run.

The Flop bet is a little more reasonable, and even though sound strategy dictates ignoring this wager as well, you can occasionally splash around a few chips on the Flop bet without sacrificing a major portion of your long-term equity.