Caribbean Stud Poker is one of the most fashionable games in the casino. It’s popularity has grown over the last decade or so, mainly down to the growth of online poker and the better understanding of how that works. Whilst this form of casino game doesn’t quite as technical as most other poker variants, it can include some strategy, of which we will discuss throughout this article.

How to play Caribbean Stud

The aim of the game is make sure that your hand beats the dealers hand using any poker hand ranking. It’s a game where you don’t need to worry about playing against any opponents, even if there are other players at the table, it’s just you versus the dealer, a little like blackjack. The game will play out and then the showdown must show that you have the stronger hand of the dealer, otherwise you lose the bet. However, there are a few stipulations to the game that we have addressed in the next section.

Step 1 – Take your seat

The first thing you need to do to get started is to take your seat and add some funds. If you are playing online then you can choose to add funds from the cashier and then decide how much you want to bet with each hand. Bear in mind that many tables will have different minimum and maximum stakes involved, so make sure you’re at a table that you can afford to sit at for a healthy period of time, rather than risking it all with just a few bets.

Step 2 – Place your ante

The first bet you need to make is called an ante. This must be placed at the start of each hand to signify to the dealer that you are playing the game. You may also be able to place a progressive bet, which is a jackpot bet that will get paid out if you hit a flush, straight flush, full house, four of a kind or royal flush, regardless of what the dealer has. This is an option bet and not all tables will allow you to do this. It also runs on the side of the main bet, so isn’t connected to how the rest of the game pans out.

Step 3 – Bet or fold?

You will now be dealt 5 cards all face down and the dealer will be dealt 5 cards with 1 face up and the remaining four face down. After checking your hand you then decide if you want to play your hand or fold it. If you decide to play then you must place double your ante bet in the ‘Bet’ box to signify your intentions. If you decide to fold then your cards will be removed along with your ante.

Step 4 – The dealer plays

The dealer will now turn the remaining four cards over to create their best hand from the 5 cards on offer. If the dealer’s hand fails to include at least and Ace and King then their hand will be classed as non-qualified as a result your ante will be paid out 1:1 and you get to keep your bet amount. The dealers hand contains at least and Ace and a King high then the hand will be classed as qualifying, meaning that your hands go to showdown.

With a qualifying hand if the dealer beats your hand then they win both the ante and the bet. With a qualifying hand if the dealer loses to your hand then the dealer will pay out 1:1 on your ante and then at the odds taken from the pay table below. If hands are tied then both ante and the raise are ‘pushed’.

Pay Table

  • 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
  • Tow pair – 2/1
  • All other  - 1/1

Hints and Tips

Optimal strategy

Just like blackjack, there is a way in which you can apply an optimal strategy to Caribbean Stud Poker, but it’s almost impossible to remember each scenario. Due to the number of cards that are on show and the possible hands that can be made, applying this strategy to each bet isn’t plausible.

But, you can apply a pretty solid rule of thumb:

  • Bet with pairs or higher
  • Fold with less than Ace/King

Whilst this isn’t the most scientific of strategies, always staying in the hand with strong hands such pairs is pretty obvious. But, when you have hands that don’t even meet the dealers qualifying hand you are essentially playing to get paid on your ante bet in the hope that the dealer does not have a qualifying hand. If they do, then you would lose every time due to your poor starting hand.

Take note of the dealers up card

The dealers up card should be a very important aspect of the game and one that many players fail to take note of. The reason behind this is that you need to be able to match up card. So, let’s say the dealer is holding a 4, which you would think is pretty innocuous. But, if you are holding a 4 as well then it means that there are only two more 4’s left in the 52-card deck, making it more unlikely that they have a pair.