In Caribbean Stud Poker, the object of the game is to make a better five card poker hand than the dealer. Based on the hand a player begins with, they may choose to fold or raise, giving the player some control over how much money is at risk. There is also a very popular $1 side bet that usually comes with a progressive jackpot. The jackpot can often be very large, adding a great deal of excitement, as progressive jackpots are not common in most table games.
How to Play
A hand of Caribbean Stud Poker starts with each player making an ante bet. The player can also choose to make the $1 progressive side bet. Each player then receives a five-card hand, face down. The dealer also receives a hand, with one card face up. Each player can look at only their own hand.
Once a player has looked at his hand, he can choose to either fold or raise. If the player folds, they lose all bets they’ve made, including the side bet. If the player raises instead, they must make a raise bet that’s twice the size of the initial ante bet.
Once all players have chosen to raise or fold, the dealer reveals his hand. If the dealer has less than ace/king high, all remaining players win even money on their ante bets, and raise bets push.
If the dealer qualifies (by holding ace/king high or better), then the player’s hand is compared to the dealer’s hand. If the dealer hand is better, the player loses his ante and raise bets. If the player’s hand is higher, they win even money on the ante bet, and the raise bet pays depending on the strength of the player’s hand. Pay charts can vary, but the most common raise pay table is as follows;
- 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 Pair: 2-1
- Pair or Less: 1-1
The progressive side bet is based entirely on the player’s own hand, and does not consider what the dealer holds. Pay charts vary greatly, but most pay out only on hands of a flush or better. One typical pay chart is as follows:
- Royal Flush: 100% of Jackpot
- Straight Flush: 10% of Jackpot
- Four of a Kind: $100
- Full House: $75
- Flush: $50
Some Extra Tips
Caribbean Stud Poker strategy can seem pretty complicated, but for the most part, you really only have to remember two rules. First, raise with any hand in which you hold a pair or more. Secondly, fold any hand in which you hold less than ace/king high (i.e., any hand that would not qualify for the dealer). If you remember just these two rules, you’ll avoid any significant errors.
For example: Hands where you hold exactly ace/king high are close calls, and won’t have a significant impact on your overall winnings in the game. If you would like to play these hands better, a general rule of thumb is to raise if the dealer is showing a card other than an ace or king that you also hold in your hand (since it means the dealer is less likely to have a pair), or if you hold mostly higher cards than what the dealer is showing.
The progressive side bet is usually a bad bet, but this doesn’t mean you should never play it. When the jackpot reaches a certain point, it does become a great bet – one that even has an edge for the player! The point at which this happens varies depending on the exact pay table being used. However, under most common pay tables, this occurs somewhere around when the jackpot reaches $200,000 to $250,000.