Caribbean Stud Poker – How to Play This Game

Caribbean stud poker

8 minutes

Posted by: Ivan


Over the years, many versions of poker were invented by players and casinos alike. While most poker variations pit players against other players, Caribbean Stud Poker is a game played exclusively against the house.

In Caribbean Stud, you will be playing with just five cards against the dealer’s five cards. No drawing is allowed, and all five cards are dealt to both the player and the dealer at the same time.

The simple Caribbean Stud Poker rules, combined with the extremely fast-paced gameplay, make it a perfect casino game, as anyone can learn how to play it in just minutes.

The game’s origins are not fully known, although poker professional David Sklansky claims he invented it in 1982, calling it Casino Poker.

Casino Poker could not be patented at the time, and some years later, another player brought it to Aruba, where they finally managed to get a patent for the name Caribbean Stud Poker.

Today, Caribbean Stud poker is played in casinos around the world, both live and online. It is one of the more popular casino versions of the poker game, alongside Ultimate Texas Hold’em.

Whether Sklansky really does claim the rights to the game or not will never be known. Regardless, we can appreciate and enjoy it under whatever name we find it these days.

Today, you are going to learn how to play Caribbean Stud Poker in just minutes, and you will be ready for some real action before you know it.

Let’s start you off with some simple rules of Caribbean Stud Poker and the basic rundown of gameplay before we discuss Caribbean Stud Poker strategy in some detail.

Basic Caribbean Stud Poker Rules

Like any poker game, you will need to learn the flow of the game before you can play Caribbean Stud Poker. Fortunately, the game plays very simply.

At the start of every hand, you must place an ante bet to be dealt cards. You can pick how much you want to bet within the casino’s allowed limits.

Caribbean stud poker rules

Once you have placed your ante, the dealer will give you five cards face down. The dealer will also deal themselves five cards, with only one of them exposed to you.

In the early days of the game, the dealer used to expose two cards, which clearly gave players some additional benefits, but it was reduced to just one later.

Once you have your five cards, you will be able to choose your option.

You can decide between folding and giving up your ante bet or paying a raise to proceed with the hand.

If you want to raise, you will have to put out exactly twice the amount of your ante bet. If you do so, both your and the dealer’s cards will be turned over and compared.

The dealer will only qualify for the hand if he has at least Ace-King high in his hand. If the dealer does not qualify, you will win double money on your ante and will receive your raise back.

If the dealer does qualify and has a stronger poker hand than you, according to the standard poker hand rankings, you will lose both your ante bet and your raise.

If the dealer does qualify and your hand is stronger than theirs, you will be paid double money on the ante bet and will win on your raise, according to the Caribbean Stud Poker payouts table.

These are all the Caribbean Stud Poker rules you really have to know. The house will take care of everything else. However, it is useful to know the payouts as well, so let’s proceed to learn about the paytable.

Caribbean Stud Poker Payouts Table

Before you start playing the game, it would definitely be beneficial to know the Caribbean Stud Poker payouts table, so you know what you stand to win with various poker hands.

Caribbean stud poker payouts

The paytable is based on ratios and only applies to your raise. For instance, winning a hand with one pair will pay 1:1 on your raise, while doing so with two pair will pay 2:1 on your money.

Here is the full Caribbean Stud Poker payouts table for your to memorize:

Poker Hand Payout
Royal Flush 100:1 (or progressive jackpot)
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
One Pair or Below 1:1

As you can see, the paytable is quite simple and offers the biggest payouts for the strongest poker hands. The thing to keep in mind is that you will only win this amount if the dealer also manages to qualify for the hand.

If you can make the strongest hand in poker, the royal flush, you will be awarded 100:1 in the normal game or a progressive jackpot in a game that offers such a jackpot.

It is worth noting that you will always have to pay an extra fixed bet on the side to participate in the progressive jackpot game, usually $1 per hand.

This might seem insignificant if you are betting $25 or $50 per hand, but progressive jackpot money does tend to add up. Playing it is a risky proposition that can pay some real dividends or eat away at your profits.

Caribbean Stud Poker House Edge: Is It Worth Playing?

Caribbean Stud Poker is a very simple casino table game, but also one that does not look too good for the players.

While some card games like blackjack or baccarat only give the house about a 1% edge when played properly, Caribbean Stud Poker gives the house a 5.3% edge.

Such a massive edge resembles video slots more than table games and makes Caribbean Stud one of the least favorable casino table games out there.

In fact, you will need to learn some basic Caribbean Stud Poker strategy even to get the edge down to 5.3%.

Raising every hand and letting luck decide what happens would give the house a 16.5% edge, an insane amount!

If you still like the game too much to not play it at all, let me at least teach you the best Caribbean Stud Poker strategy and how it will reduce the advantage the house has over you.

Strategy Tips: How to Play Caribbean Stud Poker

If you have decided to go against the poker math and still play this highly unfavorable casino game, let’s take a look at the best approach.

I have seen some players raise every hand without looking at their cards. I can tell you that this is a horrible idea that will cost you a lot of money.

How to play Caribbean stud poker

On the other hand, what you should do is raise every time you have any pair in your hand, regardless of the dealer’s up card. You will be a favorite to win the hand anytime you have a pair.

Some experts will play anytime they have A, K, J, 8, 3, or better. This is a highly volatile strategy that relies on winning against other qualifying Ace-King high hands.

Paying attention to the dealer’s up-card can be important in some scenarios. Covering their up card with one from your hand does diminish their ability to make a pair by the end.

In either case, the only Caribbean Stud Poker strategy you should really care about is to raise when you have a pair and perhaps play your strongest Ace-King hands and fold-out everything else.

If you feel like gambling and want to play a hand just to see the dealer bust, remember that it will cost you 3x the ante bet to make that happen. There is simply no world in which you can make such play profitable.

What’s more, you should know that the progressive jackpot bets give the house a 26.5% edge over you (for that bet only) and should be avoided at all costs if you are looking to play optimally.

Remember that this is not a slot machine, and the royal flush cannot be “due” even if no one has had it in a long time. That means anytime you play, you have an equal chance of making it, and that chance is very slim.

Time to Hit the Tables

You now know the Caribbean Stud Poker rules, the payout table, and the basic strategy you should employ at the tables.

The truth remains that this is one of the least favorable table games in the world, and savvy gamblers should stay well away from it.

There is no real way to win in the long run in Caribbean Stud Poker, and the minimum house edge of 5.3% should be enough to deter you from playing for any significant stakes.

Caribbean stud poker strategy

If you still want to play and simply like the game too much, I recommend playing slow, betting relatively low for your standards, and milking any comps and free stuff that the casino will give away while you are playing.

If you go to play Caribbean Stud online, you should at least take a juicy welcome bonus from one of the casinos. Still, I definitely recommend looking at table games with lower house edge such as baccarat or other forms of casino poker games, or even video poker machines.


How to play Caribbean Stud Poker?

Caribbean Stud is a very simple poker game. The player and the dealer are dealt five cards each after the player posts an ante. The player can choose to raise (pay 2x the ante) or fold their cards. The hands are compared, and the winner is announced.

Where can I play Caribbean Stud Poker?

A great number of brick-and-mortar casinos, especially in the USA, offer the game. On top of this, you can find Caribbean Stud at a host of online casinos, as it is one of the more popular casino poker variations around.

What is the house edge in Caribbean Stud?

One of the biggest downsides of Caribbean Stud poker is the extremely high house edge. If you play your cards right, the house will still have a 5.3% advantage over you, which is definitely not even close to optimal for table game players.

What is the best Caribbean Stud Poker strategy?

The best Caribbean Stud Poker strategy involves raising all hands with at least one pair in them and folding all hands that can’t beat the dealer’s qualified hand. Strong Ace-King type hands can be played but can also be folded.

Can I get a bonus to play Caribbean Stud?

Yes! Online casinos that offer Caribbean Stud Poker offer valuable welcome bonuses and other perks that you can use to improve your winning chances and boost your bankroll before you jump into playing this highly volatile game.

Ivan Potocki

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