Beginners Guide to Playing Caribbean Stud Poker

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Poker remains one of the most popular casino games, with the majority of wagering tables often being dedicated solely to this game.  Of all the different variations of poker, Caribbean stud poker remains one of the most well-liked.  

The history of Caribbean stud poker is not that well documented.  What’s certain is that the game first emerged in the early 1980s in the US, from where it expanded globally.

The actual mastermind of the game is believed to be an author of poker-related literature, David Sklansky, who first discussed the game in 1982. However, his version of gameplay did not precisely correspond to the contemporary form of Caribbean stud poker.  Regretfully for Sklansky, he never patented his version of the game and probably missed out on some juicy royalties.

How is Caribbean Stud Poker Played?

Caribbean stud poker table resembles a blackjack table, with seven player seats, overseen by a dealer who uses a 52-card deck.  Each player has a marked betting area in front of him, labelled either ante or bet.

The ante represents a mandatory bet with a CA$5 minimum.  After everyone places the ante bet, the dealer will draw a set of five cards and place a set in front of each player and himself.

Here, the player has two options, based on how good their hand is.  One option is to fold and lose the ante, by returning the cards to the dealer.  The alternative option is to play, by placing a wager in a corresponding spot on the table.  Here, the betted amount needs to be double that of the ante.

After each player makes their move, the dealer will flip over his four cards to see what kind of poker hand he’s got.  To qualify, the dealer’s hand needs to consist of an ace-king or higher.  What this means is that the dealer has to draw a hand with at least a king and an ace in it, or a hand that would beat a hand with a king and an ace in it.

How Does a Caribbean Stud Poker Hand Play Out?

Following the drawing of the cards, two outcomes are possible:

  • The dealer qualifies, and the hands are compared. If you have a stronger hand, you collect both the bet and the ante.  If not, you lose them both.  In case of a tie, the round is treated as a push, and you get your bet back without any winnings.
  • The dealer doesn’t qualify, in which case you win your ante, although the bet is treated as a push.

Caribbean Stud Poker Paytables

The ante always gets paid off at even money, although the bet pays off based on the strength of the hand in accordance with the game’s paytable:

Draw Payout Ratio
Royal flush 100 – 1
Straight flush 50 – 1
Four of a kind 20 – 1
Full house 7 – 1
Flush 5 – 1
Straight 4 – 1
Three of a kind 3 – 1
Two pairs 2 – 1
One pair Even

Progressive Jackpot in Caribbean Stud Poker

To wager on the progressive jackpot in Caribbean stud poker, you need to place an additional CA$1 bet.  The progressive jackpot is often deposited into a separate drop slot on the table.

The progressive jackpot pays in the following order:

Draw Payout Ratio
Royal flush 100% of the jackpot
Straight flush 10% of the jackpot
Four of a kind CA$100 – CA$500
Full house CA$75 – CA$250
Flush CA$50 – CA$100

Odds in Caribbean Stud Poker

The house edge in Caribbean stud poker is over 5% since to stay in a hand, you will need to put up three times the size of the ante.  Since the dealer won’t qualify about 45% of the time, you will only get your ante back, and the bet will be treated as a push.

Remember, bluffing is an ineffective strategy in this game since the dealer can’t fold, so your only hope would be for the dealer not qualifying.

Here are some hints to increase your chances:

  • Bet if you have a pair or better
  • Fold if you have nothing
  • If you have an ace-king, bet if you have a card that matches the dealer’s face-up card
  • If you have an AKQ or an AKJ, bet if you have a card that matches the dealer’s face-up card
  • Bet if you have AKQ, if you hold a card that’s higher than the dealer’s face-up card

Caribbean stud poker can be loads of fun, since the gameplay is relatively slow-paced, and the strategy is straightforward.  Keep in mind that having an edge doesn’t mean that much when dealing with progressive jackpots.  Hope you have fun and enjoy the game!

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Bojan Lipovic - Digital Project Manager

Besides polishing his SEO skills, Bojan has a penchant for creative writing. With over half a decade of experience in the online gambling industry under his belt, his written take on the latest news from the Canadian and global gambling industries is an indispensable source of information for the CASINOenquirer team. Bojan’s primary goal is to ensure that players get a superior experience through the top-notch content that he shares.

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