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A Guide to Playing Royal Holdem

You don’t have to be a king in order to dominate at Royal Holdem, which has many similarities to limit Texas Holdem. What makes the game unique is that there are only high cards (ten, jack, queen, king, ace) in the deck, hence the name “Royal”. As a result, the game is played with up to six players on a 20 card deck.

How Royal Holdem Works

The game then follows the basic limit structure where players receive two hole cards to build the best hand with 5 community cards. Hand rankings follow the same structure as traditional poker, although only a Royal Flush applies (other flushes do not count) and standard pairs do not apply. Therefore, players are drawing to Royal flushes, quads (four of a kind), full houses, straights and two pairs to build the strongest hand.

Optimal Royal Holdem Strategy

With an absence of lower cards, high hands are offered up at a significant premium, producing higher quality complete hands. Picking only quality starting hands is key to competing successfully in the game, and the lowest hand a player should consider taking up is Ace-Jack (which is a marginal hand, at best.) Most players consider premium hands to be a pair of Kings or aces, while queens and Ace-King is a strong hand as well. At the same time, Ace-Queen and a pair of jacks is also considered a marginal hand which may be played depending on the position.

In Royal Holdem, the high quality of the hands makes position even more important since you can assume anyone raising has a pair of kings or aces, while you can pinpoint hands of those remaining in the game. Players with marginal hands should only play them in good position or in the small blind without a raise in advance. Since high pocket pairs are quite common in the game, players should realize the odds of hitting a set (three of a king) is greater than 1 in three hands given the adjustment in the holding cards. If you are holding a pair of aces and another player is betting strong, consider the possibility he or she also has aces or is playing with a pair of kings – this makes it easier to pigeonhole the types of hands your opponent is holding.

Since players want to draw to three of a king or better, consider you’re drawing from a possible set of 15 cards (the 20 card deck minus your two hole cards and the three community cards.) You always want to play strong hands aggressively and to consider you pot odds before betting further – you can assume other players have three of a kind (or better) of they are betting aggressively on the turn. For example, suppose you’re holding two kings and the flop reveals King-Jack-Ten (unsuited.) In this case you have the second best hand (Ace-Queen is best.) You may be competing against Ace-King or Jack-Jack, so consider the number of possible outs to a full house or the chances of your competitor holding a straight given his or her position and betting structure.

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