Caribbean Stud Poker Strategy

Learn how to play Caribbean Stud Poker and effective strategies to beat the house more often. These Caribbean Stud Poker strategies are suitable for beginners.
Caribbean Stud Poker Strategy
Find out how you can win at Caribbean Stud Poker
Caribbean Stud Poker might not be the most-played poker variant, but it certainly isn’t lacking in excitement. 

On this page, you’ll learn all about how to play Caribbean Stud Poker and the best strategy to beat the house more often. Even if you’re a complete beginner, we’ll show you all you need to know.

How to Play Caribbean Stud Poker

Caribbean Stud Poker is a heads up game. This means that you play against a dealer. Other players may be present at the table, but their cards do not influence whether or not you will win. The only objective is to beat the dealer.

Here’s a quick explanation on how to play Caribbean Stud Poker:

  • You make an ante bet to participate in a hand. This bet is placed in the box marked ‘ante’ in front of you. 

  • You will be dealt five cards; all face up. The dealer also receives five cards, but four of these are face down, and only one is showing. 

  • You need to decide whether you think you can form a better hand than the dealer. There are no additional cards dealt in Caribbean Stud Poker.

  • Once you’ve seen your cards and the dealer’s one visible hole card, you need to decide whether to fold or raise. 

  • If you fold, the hand ends for you there and then and the dealer takes the chips from your ante bet. If you decide to raise and continue playing, you must place 2x your original stake in the raise box in front of your cards.

The dealer then reveals their remaining cards. If they win, your chips will be forfeited. If you win, you are paid at even money on your ante bet, and your raise bet will have the following payouts:

  • High Card – 1/1
  • Two-of-a-Kind – 1/1
  • Two Pair – 2/1
  • Three-of-a-Kind – 3/1
  • Straight – 4/1
  • Flush – 5/1
  • Full House – 7/1
  • Quads – 20/1
  • Straight Flush – 50/1
  • Royal Flush – 100/1

These odds are fairly standard in this version of poker, but they may vary at different casinos. Check the paytable before you start playing.

Caribbean Stud Poker Strategy

When considering a Caribbean Stud Poker strategy, there are two which can give you an edge over the house. It’s all about knowing when to raise and when to fold. The first strategy dictates that you should always place a raise bet when you have:

  • A pair or better.
  • A-K and at least one card matching the dealer’s visible hole card.
  • A-K-Q or A-K-J plus one card matching the dealer’s visible hole card.
  • A-K-Q and any card of higher value than the dealer’s visible hole card.

If you have cards which do not fulfill any of these criteria, you should fold. The house edge is only 5.22% when you use this strategy.

The second strategy is a little simpler and gives you a slightly smaller edge than the one outlined above (the house edge improves to 5.32%). If you have A-K-J-8-3 or better, you should raise. You should fold if your cards are worse than this combination.

When Does the Dealer Qualify?

The dealer must have a hand containing A-K or better to qualify. If the dealer qualifies, you will receive a payout at the odds shown above if you win. If the dealer does not qualify, you are paid out at 1/1 for your ante bet, but your raise bet is returned to you, and you do not win, regardless of the hand you have.

Betting Limits

The Caribbean Stud Poker betting limits vary from table to table and casino to casino. There are generally low limit tables for players who are novices. There are also high limit tables with bets of hundreds per hand for high stakes players.

Alternative Rules

Caribbean Stud Poker is usually played according to the standard rules which we have described here. Some casinos will offer a version with minor differences.

For example, you might find enhanced odds on the payouts of certain hands if you bet the maximum amount per hand. Always check the rules of the game at your chosen casino before you start playing to see if there is any variation to the standard rules.

Progressive Jackpot Side Bets

Most Caribbean Stud Poker games have progressive jackpot side bets. To have a chance of winning the current jackpot, or a portion of it, you must place a side bet.

You should place your bet on the ‘progressive’ button before you place your ante bet. Most side bets are generally a fixed amount, and they are in no way related to the amount you place in your ante and raise bets. 

The side bet gives you the chance to win a share of the progressive jackpot. The jackpot amount is usually displayed at the top of the screen. The total jackpot increases for every hand played were no player wins it. Most side bets only pay for hands of a Flush or better. Typical Caribbean Stud Poker progressive side bets pay:

  • Flush – 75/1
  • Full House – 100/1
  • Four-of-a-Kind – 500/1
  • Straight Flush – 10% of progressive side bet pot.
  • Royal Flush – 100% of progressive side bet pot.

One great thing about the progressive jackpot side bet is that the dealer doesn’t have to qualify for you to win this bet.

Play Caribbean Stud Poker Online

Now that you’ve read about how to play, you’re probably itching to play Caribbean Stud Poker online. This variant of poker is available at many online casinos. Have a look at our reviews of recommended casinos - they all offer it.

Some of our recommended casinos offer the chance to play against a live dealer. Live games add extra excitement to the game and are much more sociable than playing against computer programs. We recommend playing live dealer versions first.

Best Caribbean Stud Poker Sites

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