Poker is a game that we often imagine played by humans against humans. The truth is, among the many variations of this game, some are played differently, such as Video Poker, played by a single person against a machine.

Nevertheless, Video Poker isn't the only variant played against the house. Recently, a poker game in its Stud version has been gaining traction – Caribbean Stud Poker.

Caribbean Stud Poker is a casino game with rules derived from Five Card Stud Poker. The main difference is that, unlike most poker variants, it's played against the house. 

So, there’s no bluffing or multiple rounds of betting.

Caribbean Stud Poker History

Due to the growing popularity of poker games, casinos decided to create a banked game based on Stud Poker to attract fans of the game to play more table games. 

Despite being a relatively new game, it's unclear how or where Caribbean Stud Poker originated.

David Sklansky, a well-known author of various poker books like Tournament Poker for Advanced Players, claims to have created this game in 1982 under the name "Casino Poker". 

However, when he developed the game, it had some differences:

  • For instance, the dealer revealed two of their cards instead of just one. 
  • Additionally, there was no progressive jackpot - various casinos that adopted the game introduced this aspect afterwards.

Unfortunately for Sklansky, and according his story, he couldn't patent "Casino Poker". Years later, a player introduced the game to the "King International Casino" in Aruba. 

He informed Sklansky that they patented it after changing some rules and renaming it “Caribbean Stud Poker".

Caribbean Stud Poker Rules and How to Play

Poker Dealer

If you've ever played 5-Card Stud, you have virtually all the knowledge you need to play Caribbean Stud Poker. 

The rules are simple and easy to learn, and in terms of skill and poker strategy:

  • Bluffing is non-existent.
  • There are no draws.
  • Despite being seated with other players at the table, we only play against the house.
  1. The dealer will deal five cards face down to each player who has placed the initial bet (also called the ante) on the table.
  2. Next, the dealer will deal themselves five cards, with all but the last card face-down. 
  3. So, FOUR cards are face-down, and ONE is face-up.
  4. Once the dealer's card is revealed, we can look at our five cards and decide whether or not to continue playing. 

If we want to play, we have to make an additional bet of twice the value of the ante: if the ante is $10, the bet must be $20, totalling an investment of $30 in a hand. If we don't want to play, we fold and lose the ante (in this case, $10).

When the betting or folding round ends, the dealer reveals their hand.

There are several possibilities, and each of them concludes differently. Remember, despite there being other players at the table, your hand only needs to beat the dealer's:

  1. If the dealer's hand doesn't qualify, all players who bet will receive an amount equal to their ante, and they get their bets back.
  2. If the dealer's hand qualifies and beats yours, you lose the ante and the bet.
  3. If the dealer's hand qualifies but loses to yours, you will receive an amount equal to your ante and an amount equal to or X times your bet. The strength of your hand determines the amount.

Caribbean Stud Poker Payouts

The following table presents the amounts paid by the house based on the strength of the player's hand in play. 

This table might differ depending on the country/location. 

But for simplicity’s sake, we will present the American version:

Royal Flush 100 to 1
Straight Flush 50 to 1
Quads 20 to 1
Full House 7 to 1
Flush 5 to 1
Straight 4 to 1
Trips 3 to 1
2 Pair 2 to 1
1 Pair or High Card 1 to 1

How to Determine if the Dealer's Hand Qualifies?

The dealer only qualifies to play based on the following:

  • Their hand either contains an Ace and a King
  • Their hand forms a pair.
  • They hold any higher-ranked poker hand. 

So, if the dealer has anything worse than A-K-4-3-2, they do not qualify to play.

If the dealer has worse than A-K-4-3-2, the house pays the value of the ante to all players who placed bets.

Progressive Jackpot

The ante and bet aren't the only values we can win at Caribbean Stud Poker tables. In most casinos, there's also a progressive jackpot in play. And it's possible to win a portion of it or even the entire amount.

For this to happen, we must place a fixed bet solely dedicated to the jackpot before seeing any cards.

Typically, American casinos payout as follows:

Royal Flush 100% of the Progressive Jackpot
Straight Flush 10% of the Progressive Jackpot
Quads $500
Full House $100
Flush $50

You don't need to beat the dealer's hand to win the progressive jackpot. 

If you form one of the hands from the table above, you will immediately receive the corresponding amount - even if the dealer has a higher hand than yours.

Typically, the bet to play the progressive jackpot is $1.

Caribbean Stud Poker Strategy Tips

Poker Dealer

It may seem simple and even easy to make money playing Caribbean Stud Poker. But it's essential to clarify that this poker variant is still a game where the house has an edge of about 5%.

By studying and applying optimal strategy, it's possible to reduce the casino's edge to around 1%. Considering that there's only one decision to make in each hand (raise or fold), mastering this game will be straightforward in a short amount of time.

There are just two basic rules you need to know and consistently apply:

  1. Always play any hand with a pair or better.
  2. Always fold any hand weaker than A-K-x-x-x.

By applying these two rules, there's only one hand that we need to analyse and discuss -  Ace-King (AK):

  • If you receive AK and the dealer's upcard is a Queen or lower, and you have a card of the same value, raise.
  • If the dealer shows an Ace or a King, continue in the hand only if you have a Queen or a Jack, i.e., A-K-Q-J-x.
  • If you have a Queen and the dealer's upcard is lower than your fourth highest card, bet (For example, you have A-K-Q-8-4, and the dealer is showing a 6).

In addition to these tips, it's crucial not to bet on the progressive jackpot. Like any progressive jackpot, the one in Caribbean Stud Poker is highly appealing. Moreover, five combinations can earn you part or the entirety of that jackpot, which sounds great.

Poker Chips

However, the probability of forming one of these five combinations is extremely low. It's so low, in fact, that you'll likely never win enough to be profitable.

That's why it's crucial never to play it if you intend to minimise the casino's advantage in Caribbean Stud Poker.

But if your goal is to have fun and try your luck, by all means, play the progressive jackpot.

Embrace the excitement of the possibility of winning a slice of that appetising pie!

In Conclusion – Caribbean Stud Poker

We don't expect you to make a massive profit playing Caribbean Stud Poker, But the ease of learning the rules and the enjoyment make this poker variant very entertaining.

And if you're heading to the Caribbean Stud Poker tables purely for fun, you might be lucky to hit a Royal Flush and take home the entire progressive jackpot!

Poker lover and player, Frederico brings topics of interest about the modality to our blog. Articles about strategy, tips, news or simple curiosities will be a regular presence here at 888Poker.