John Grochowski

John Grochowski John Grochowski John Grochowski John Grochowski

Online gambling is by no means an American mainstay at this point. Only New Jersey, Nevada and Delaware have legalized playing casino games online for money.

Nonetheless, online play is making an impact both on casino revenue and on the games we play. On the revenue side, New Jersey posted a 1.5 percent overall increase last year despite a 0.3 decrease in live casino revenue — and that decrease is largely due to the closing of the Trump Taj Mahal.

As for games, most of the offerings are standards such as blackjack, craps, roulette, Three Card Poker and video poker. But there’s also room for online casinos to try new games without having to clear floor space.

One such game is Casino Hold’em, which has mainly been played in international markets including Russia, Ireland, South Africa and Egypt. It is available to online casinos and was recently brought to its New Jersey site by 888 Casino.

It’s a seven-card, Hold’em-based game, but you play against the dealer and not against other players. Rules include a dealer qualifying hand, a concept that’s become the norm in poker-based games such as Caribbean Stud and Three Card Poker.

Here are the basics:

1. Players begin with an ante.

2. Each player and the dealer receive two cards face down, just as in Texas Hold’em. However, there is no round of betting at this point. Instead, the dealer immediately deals three cards face up. These are community cards that can be used in anyone’s hand, including the dealer’s.

3. Once those five cards have been dealt, there is a round of betting. Players who like their cards can call by betting twice their ante — if your ante is $5, you must bet an additional $10 to stay. Otherwise, you fold and lose your ante.

4. Two more community cards are dealt face up. There are no more bets.

5. Your final hand is the best five-card hand that can be made from your two cards plus the five community cards. The dealer also makes his best five-card hand from his two cards and the community cards.

6. For the dealer hand to qualify, it must include a pair of 4s or better.

7. If the dealer hand does not qualify, the call bet is off — it’s returned to the player. The ante bet is paid according to a pay table. Several are available, but the most common returns 100-1 on a royal flush, 20-1 on a straight flush, 10-1 on four of a kind, 3-1 on a full house, 2-1 on a flush and even money on other hands.

8. If the dealer qualifies and you have the higher-ranking hand, your call bet is paid at even money and the ante is paid according to the pay table.

9. If the dealer qualifies and has the higher-ranking hand, you lose your ante and call bets.

With the ante pay table listed above, Michael Shackleford’s site lists the house edge at 2.16 percent.

There is no easy way to memorize strategy for when to call and when to fold, however at, Shackleford explains that players should call about 82 percent of the team, so only the weakest hands are foldable. In general terms, that means folding when your two face down cards are unpaired, low compared to the first three community cards, and with minimal chance at a straight or a flush.

If you want to check out some sample hands to get your bearings, Winner Strategy has a Casino Hold’em strategy calculator at

Look for John Grochowski on Facebook ( and Twitter (@GrochowskiJ).

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