Caribbean Stud Poker

Caribbean Stud Poker is a casino game that derives from the traditional 5 Card Stud. Most forms of casino poker involve player versus player confrontation. However, in Caribbean Stud, all players are up against the casino or the dealer of each game.

Its origins are somewhat of a mystery at best, with a few claims to its conception. Most notably is poker pro and well known 2+2 author; David Sklansky. Sklansky has been writing books and articles on poker since back in the 80s. His most famous pieces of work are those he co-authored with Mason Malmuth. The Theory of Poker is considered one of the must have poker books among all poker players.

David claims that in 1982 he invented the game which was called; “Casino Poker” back then. The rules were supposedly a bit different then today’s Caribbean Stud, but its format and ideas were the same. It said that he was unable to obtain any legal rights to the game and allowed a poker playing friend of his to market the game in another country.

Other stories revolve around ex casino owners who purchased rights to the game they played on a cruise while sailing to Aruba. My favorite story is about an unlucky gambler who offered to teach his buddy the game if let him borrow $5,000.

With the cloudiness and uncertainty of Caribbean Studs origins, one fact remains constant in all of them. The game gets its name from being played first in the Caribbean Islands, more specifically; Aruba.

The game was brought to casinos with the intentions of cashing in on the popularity of regular poker back then. The casinos do not make money off the poker tables and were searching for ways to get more players off the felt and playing against the house.

The game did not fare well when first introduced in American casinos for one main reason. Caribbean has unbelievably high house advantage. This led many gamblers to stay away from the game and look elsewhere.

It wasn’t until the progressive jackpot was added to all Caribbean Stud games that it would start to gain some popularity. Until then players had no incentives to play. The jackpot, which would be displayed above the gaming table would lure in hopeful or gullible gamblers in from all corners of the casino. This addition of the jackpot could be considered a stroke of genius. It not only made the game popular, it costs the casinos very little out of pocket as it is funded by the players.

How to Play

To start a game of Caribbean Stud, all players must place an ante before they are dealt cards. Once all antes are placed, both players and dealer are dealt 5 cards. Each card is dealt face down with the exception of one card being exposed for the dealer.

At this point, the player has the option to fold or raise their hand. If they feel they will not be able to beat the dealer’s hand, they fold. If they think their hand is good enough, they must put in a bet amount of twice the ante to continue playing.

Once all decisions are made by the players, the dealer will turn over their cards and determine winners and losers.

Rules

The overall concept of Caribbean Stud is to beat the dealers 5 card hand with your own. Sometimes you don’t even need to beat the dealer as they must have a hand that qualifies. A qualifying hand for the dealer consists of having at least and Ace and a King. If this is not the case, the hand is declared dead and all players win even money on their ante bets. All raised bets are considered a push In this case and the raise bet is returned.

If the dealer has a hand that qualifies and beats the players’ hand, you lose both ante, and raised bets. If your hand beats a qualifying dealer hand, you will win both ante and raised bets. All ante bets on a win are paid even money regardless of what the player has. However, a winning raised bet will pay out based what their hand ranking is. For example: a winning hand that holds a straight or a flush will pay more than a High card or one pair winning hand.

It’s important to note that although the dealer must have at least an Ace and a King to qualify, the players hand does not follow this rule. The players hand always qualifies even if they hold 7 high.

Progressive Jackpot

All Caribbean Studs will have a progressive jackpot that the player can choose to play. This is not a forced bet, and should be considered a prop, or side bet option in the game. But, it is a very important aspect of the game that is worth noting.

Before each hand, the player has the option to place $1 into a slot next to his spot at the table. This $1 bet signifies that you are playing the jackpot. The bet must be placed each hand in order to participate as well.

The progressive jackpot will only pay if you make a certain hand. The lowest possible qualifying jackpot hand is a flush which pays $50 in most American casinos. Here is a full payout table for the progressive jackpot according to American casino rules.

  • Royal Flush – 100% of jackpot
  • Straight Flush – 10% of jackpot
  • Four of a Kind – $500
  • Full House – $100
  • Flush – $50

Important notes about the progressive jackpot

  • This jackpot is paid regardless if your actual hand loses to the dealer or wins.
  • The jackpot is funded by the $1 bet from each player, but once someone hits the Royal Flush, the house will replenish it starting at $10,000 in most casinos.
  • In the event that 2 players are dealt a Royal Flush in the same hand, the person who was dealt first will win 100% of the jackpot. The second player will then receive 10% of the reset jackpot.

Payouts

Depending on what hand you hold, will determine what your payout is on all winning raised bets. The hand rankings are exactly the same as regular poker and are as follows.

  • High Card (Ace High) – Pays even money
  • One Pair – Pays even money
  • Two Pair – Pays 2:1
  • Straight – Pays 4:1
  • Three of a Kind – Pays 3:1
  • Flush – Pays 5:1
  • Full House – Pays 7:1
  • Four of a Kind – Pays 20:1
  • Straight Flush – Pays 50:1
  • Royal Flush – Pays 100:1

Variations

All rules outlined are found at just about every casino. Some parts of the world such as: Macau and Australia may have different payout structures for both the jackpot and winning raised hands. But, almost all the rules will be the same.

Basic Strategy

There’s not much a player can do to overcome the enormous house edge in Caribbean Stud. The average house edge is a bit more than 5% which is difficult to overcome. However, using a perfect strategy, you can lower this edge to about 2.5%.

It said that no one knows how to play the perfectly, as it can be a guessing game most of the time. There are a few tips you can take to the table to make give a one up on others though.

First tip is to always raise when you have at least a pair, regardless of what the dealer shows. This is the most obvious strategy and fairly straightforward. It’s when you get the non-pair hands that can be tricky.

A good rule of thumb is to make your decision based on the dealers up card. If it’s an ace and you have no Ace, folding is always the best option. If you have Ace King, you should always play even if the dealer is showing Ace.

One aspect I like to use is what’s called the blocking concept. If the dealer has less than a Queen showing and it matches one of your cards, this lowers the possibility that they will have a pair. If the dealers’ card is a 2 through Queen and matches one of yours, it’s best to raise and stay in the hand.

One more piece of advice is to never play the progressive jackpot. This bet is one of the worse you can make in any table game. It has a house of almost 25% in most casinos. You’re better off throwing that $1 dollar down a well and wishing for more money.