Texas Hold’ em is one of the most popular card games in the world. Traditional versions of the game pit players against one another through four rounds of betting. The player with the best hand at the end of the betting round – or the final player to fold their hand – wins.
Bonus Texas Hold’ em transforms the concept of this beloved game into an individual affair. The general premise remains the same – the game uses the same hierarchy of hands; each hand progresses with hole cards, followed by a flop, a turn and a river; and players can bet, fold or check throughout the hand. But beyond maintaining the same structure as traditional Hold’ em, the bonus version involves some major differences.
For a quick recap of the rule, check out our overview. Read on for a breakdown of the differences between Bonus and traditional Texas Hold’ em, and see if the game piques your interest.
Player vs House
Whereas traditional Texas Hold’ em is contested between players, the Bonus Hold’ em pits the player against the house. In some ways, this makes it very much like a heads up match. However, there are some additional differences that make bonus Hold’ em distinct heads up games.
The Player’s Cards Are Face Up
Because the dealer is a passive entity in the game, a player’s hole cards are dealt face up. The dealer’s cards, meanwhile, are face down.
No Bluffing, No Slow-Playing
Though bonus Hold’ em requires skill, it relies almost entirely on a player’s ability to calculate odds and probability. Because the dealer takes no action in the game – they cannot bet or fold – there is no purpose in a player attempting to deceive.
This aspect of the game takes out one of poker’s most romanticized acts – bluffing. Sure, you’re allowed to bet with a weak hand, but you won’t be fooling anyone. Likewise, checking with a strong hand won’t lure the dealer into making a wager. When you play Bonus Hold’ em, it’s all about understanding pot odds and probability.
The Betting Rounds Are Different
Bonus Hold’ em uses the same dealing process as traditional Hold’ em. However, the betting rounds are slightly different.
In the bonus version of the game, the player pays an ante before seeing their cards. This is akin to the big blind, but is mandatory every hand. The dealer does not wager an ante that the player can win.
After receiving their hole cards, a player has the option of betting (2x the ante) or folding. They cannot check. After the flop and turn, a player has the option to either bet or check, depending on the strength of their hand. There is no option to bet after seeing the river card.
No Getting Caught By Fish
Bonus Hold’ em is not immune from bad beats, but it may mollify players to know they won’t lose an all-in to an opponent calling them down from a ludicrously weak position.
As previously mentioned, success or failure depends on one’s ability to properly assess the odds of success at every betting stage. You’re AA might still lose to 2-7 off-suit, but at least you won’t be left scratching your head as to why an opponent stayed in the hand.
Chasing Draws is Cheap
When playing, the first decision you have to make is whether to call or fold, based solely on your hole cards. If you start with a strong hand but miss the flop, or pick up a draw, you’re not necessarily in a bad position. Because the dealer is unable to bet, you’re able to maintain your hand through the river without increasing your wager. Whereas you might be compelled to fold to a large bet in traditional Hold’ em, Bonus Hold’ em lets you chase for cheap.
Bonus Hold’ em is a fixed limit version of poker, but it uses different limits than the traditional game. Rather than post-flop, turn and river bets being 1x, 2x and 2x the big blind respectively, Bonus Hold’ em bets are 2x, 1x, N/A.
This sequence limits the player’s advantage, because the largest wager is made when they have the least amount of information regarding their position. After the flop, a player can check down to the end, or bet as they please, but the 1x limit prevents them from winning massive pots with monster hands. This is why the traditional limits are inverted for bonus Hold’ em, and no bet is allowed post-river.
Another distinction of note is that your ante is considered separate from post-flop bets. In order to be paid out for the ante, your finishing hand must be a straight or better. If you win the round with a weaker hand, the ante bet is considered a push.
Side Bet Option
“Bonus” Hold’ em is called what it is because it offers a bonus bet to players. The bonus bet can be made prior to receiving your hole cards. It is an optional wager that can be larger, smaller or equal to your ante. The outcome of the bonus wager depends on the cards you’re dealt, and does not take any of the communal cards into consideration.
The pay table is as follows:
AK suited 25:1
AQ or AJ suited 20:1
AK unsuited 15:1
KK, QQ, JJ 10:1
AQ or AJ unsuited 5:1
Pocket 2s through 10s 3:1
The outcome of your main bet has no relevance to the side bet. If you’re dealt a pair of 2s and lose the hand, you’d still receive 3x your side bet. Likewise, if you’re dealt AK suited and win the hand with a flush, you’re paid out the bonus bet at a 25:1 ratio.
It’s fairly easy to find a quick game of online poker. Most sites have a turbo option that limits the time each player has to make each decision. But no version of poker can match the speed of Bonus Hold’ em.
In Bonus Hold’ em, there is only one player making decisions – you. This means your hands progress as quickly as you want. That means never sitting idly by after folding pre-flop.
Give Bonus Hold’ Em A Try
If the concept of facing off with the dealer for a game of Hold’ em feels foreign to you, give it a try using play money at our practice table. This way you can get a feel for the unique betting rounds and decision-making processes. Once you’ve found your rhythm, you can get started for real.