Caribbean Hold’em Poker – also known as Casino Hold’em Poker – is a game that shares some similarities with Caribbean Stud. The goal of both games is to make a better hand than the dealer, with big hands paying out a special bonus. However, Caribbean Hold’em revolves around the extremely popular Texas Hold’em form of poker, bringing some of the excitement of the popular poker room game into the world of casino table games. The game is licensed by Games Marketing Ltd.
Rules and Hand Play
Each hand begins with the player making an ante bet. Both the player and the dealer are dealt a two card hand, face down. The player may examine his own cards. The dealer will also deal “the flop,” three community cards that both the player and the dealer can use.
At this point, the player must make a decision: they may either fold or call. If the player folds, he must surrender his hand and loses the ante bet. If the player chooses to call, they must make a second bet, twice the size of the ante bet.
The dealer now deals out two more community cards: in poker terms, these are known as the turn and the river. After these cards are dealt, the dealer reveals his hand. Each player must make their best five card poker hand using any combination of their cards and the community cards.
The dealer needs a pair of fours or better to qualify. If the dealer does not qualify, any player still in the hand wins their ante bet (see payouts below), and all call bets push.
If the dealer does qualify, then the dealer’s hand is compared to the player’s hand. If the dealer hand is better, then the player loses both the ante and call bets. If the player wins after the dealer qualifies, then the call bet wins even money, and the ante bet wins according to the posted pay table. In the rare case of a tie, both bets push.
There are several different pay tables available for this game. However, the following is the most common, especially at online casinos. Winning ante bets typically pay out as follows:
- Royal Flush: 100-1
- Straight Flush: 20-1
- Four of a Kind: 10-1
- Full House: 3-1
- Flush: 2-1
- Straight or Less: 1-1
Side bets are also common in Caribbean Poker. For instance, many tables feature a progressive side bet that works similarly to that of the Caribbean Stud Poker progressive game. In fact, the game is identical, as only the player’s first five cards – their two-card hand and the flop – are considered when paying the progressive side bet. Payouts are typically similar to the following:
- Royal Flush: 100% of Jackpot
- Straight Flush: 10% of Jackpot
- Four of a Kind: $500
- Full House: $100
- Flush: $75
Another common side bet is the AA+ bet, in which the following payouts are again given based on the strength of a player’s hand and the flop (in other words, before the turn and river are dealt):
- Royal Flush: 100-1
- Straight Flush: 50-1
- Four of a Kind: 40-1
- Full House: 30-1
- Flush: 20-1
- Pair of Aces or Better: 7-1
The Quick Strategy
When playing, it is rarely correct to fold. In fact, according to analysis at wizardofodds.com, a player should only fold 18% of the time. This means that only very bad hands, like those where you hold low cards compared to the board and don’t have realistic flush or straight draws.
Using the most common pay table listed above, the house edge with optimal play is about 2.16%. While it’s hard to quantify exactly what the optimal strategy is, you should be able to come very close to this figure simply by raising about the right percentage of hands.
Just like with the progressive side bet in Caribbean Stud Poker, the Caribbean Hold’em progressive jackpot is usually a bad bet for the player. However, if the jackpot gets quite large – usually somewhere over $200,000 – then the bet actually has a player advantage, and should be taken at every opportunity!
The AA+ side bet is also one you might want to avoid; the house edge is over 6%.