Caribbean Draw Poker

Caribbean Draw Poker is yet another of the popular Caribbean poker games, in all of which the goal is to make a better five-card poker hand than the dealer to win. However, unlike Caribbean Stud or Caribbean Hold’em, Caribbean Draw Poker allows the player to draw cards in an attempt to improve their hand.

This makes strategy rather complex, but also makes it much more likely for the player to make a big hand. It is licensed by Shufflemaster (see a full list of casino games and their licensees here).

How Each Hand is Played

Each hand begins with the player making an ante bet, as well as an optional progressive side bet. The player is dealt five cards, which he may examine. The dealer is also dealt a five-card hand, however only one card is exposed.

At this point the player has a decision to make. The player may fold their hand, thus forfeiting their hand and their ante bet. Or the player may choose to call, which also comes with the option of discarding up to two cards. The call bet is twice the size of the initial ante bet. Any discarded cards will be replaced by the dealer, leaving the player with a new five-card hand.

After the player has made his decisions and received any new cards, the dealer reveals his hand.

If the dealer has a straight or better, then the dealer will stand. If the dealer has less than a straight, they will also take the option to discard up to two cards. If the dealer has three of a kind, a pair, or no pair, the dealer will draw two new cards. If the dealer has two pair, a four card straight draw, or a four card flush draw, he will take one card.

The dealer now checks to see if he qualifies. The dealer needs a minimum of a pair of eights to qualify. If the dealer does not qualify any player still in the hand wins even money on the ante bet, and pushes their call bet.

If the dealer does qualify then the dealer’s hand is compared to the player’s hand. If the dealer has the best hand, the player loses the ante and call bets. If the player has the best hand, the player wins even money on the ante bet, and wins the call bet. Pay-outs are determined by a pay chart like the one below. In the case of a tie, both bets push.

Pay Chart

Hand Pays
Royal Flush 100 to 1
Straight Flush 50 to 1
Four of a Kind 20 to 1
Full House 7 to 1
Flush 5 to 1
Straight 3 to 1
Three of a Kind 2 to 1
Two Pair or Less 1 to 1



As in other Caribbean games, the Caribbean Draw Poker progressive jackpot is typically paid only on the player’s initial five-card hand. If the player discards and draws new cards, they cannot win the progressive jackpot (in some rare cases, lesser pay-outs are given for drawn hands).

The pay-outs are typically as follows:

Hand Pays
Royal Flush 100% of Jackpot
Straight Flush 10% of Jackpot
Four of a Kind $500
Full House $100
Flush $50


Strategy for Playing

The golden rule of Caribbean Draw Poker is – never fold! Even with the worst possible hand it is worth drawing and trying to improve your hand. The reason is simple – the dealer will only qualify about 52 per cent of the time, meaning that 48 per cent of the time you’ll win regardless of the cards you hold.

Despite the simplicity of the fold/call decision, drawing strategy can still be rather complex. You should never break up a flush (including straight flushes and royal flushes), four of a kind or full house. Only break up a straight if you hold K-Q-J-T of the same suit, since this hand gives you the opportunity to improve to a flush, a straight flush, or a royal flush. With three of a kind, discard the other two cards. With two pair, discard the odd card.

With pairs, the standard play is to hold the pair and the highest other card, discarding the two low singletons. However, there are many exceptions.

Generally, you’ll break up the pair when it allows you to draw to a four-card royal or straight flush. With tens or lower, you can also break them up to chase a four-card flush draw. Pairs lower than eights should be broken up to many three card draws as well, as these small pairs must improve to beat any qualifying dealer hand.

With no pair, you’ll want to hold onto (in order of preference) a four-card royal/straight draw, a four card open-ended straight draw, a three card royal or straight flush draw, a three card flush draw, or a four card inside straight draw. If you have none of these options, simply hold your three highest cards.