Caribbean Stud Poker Basics
Before delving into Caribbean Stud Poker strategy, it is worth recapping the basics to ensure that you have a solid foundation in the game. A round starts with the player placing the Ante bet on the table. The dealer then deals five cards to the player and five cards to the dealer. The dealer receives four face down cards and one face up.
The player then has the choice of Fold and Call. If the player folds it means that they are abandoning the hand and they will lose their Ante bet. If the player calls, it means that they wish to continue. A second bet equal to twice the Ante is made and then the dealer will reveal their remaining cards.
That is all there is to a round. It couldn’t be simpler. If the player hand is stronger than the dealer’s is, then they are paid at 1:1 for the Ante bet. The Call bet is a little more complicated. It only wins if the dealer has qualified. The dealer qualifies if they are holding at least an Ace-King. If the dealer does not qualify then the Ante bet is returned as a push. If the dealer has qualified but the player wins, then they also win on the Call bet.
There is some slight variation in the payouts for a Call bet, however, it will typically pay 1:1 for High Card, 1:1 for a Pair, 2:1 for Two Pair, 3:1 for Three of a Kind, 4:1 for a Straight, 5:1 for a Flush, 7:1 for a Full House, 20:1 for Four of a Kind, 50:1 for a Straight Flush, and 100:1 for a Royal Flush.
Caribbean Stud Poker Expert Strategy
There is actually an optimal strategy for Caribbean Stud Poker. However, it is so complicated that it is widely accepted that no one has managed to memorise it. Don’t let this get you down, it is still possible to use an advanced strategy that will reduce the house edge and give you a very good chance of winning. Unfortunately, there is no way of guaranteeing a win, but the following strategy will definitely help.
There are two basic rules that you should always follow, and they take no time at all to memorise:
- If you have at least a pair, then always Call
- If your hand ranks worse than the dealer’s minimum qualifying hand of Ace-King, then you should always Fold.
Amazingly, just these two rules are enough to cover almost every situation that arises in Caribbean Stud Poker. However, there are scenarios where things are not quite so clear and it is necessary to think a little further. For example, if you have Ace-King high and three lower value cards that do not strengthen the hand.
In situations such as these, there are three basic rules that you should follow to give yourself the best chance:
- When holding Ace King high, Call if the dealer is showing a 2 through Queen AND it matches one of your other three cards
- When holding Ace King high, Call if the dealer is showing an Ace or King AND you hold a Queen or a Jack in your other cards.
- When holding Ace King high, Call if the dealer is showing a card whose rank does not match any of yours AND you hold a Queen in your hand AND the dealer’s up card is worse than your fourth highest card.
If you take a minute to consider the above rules, you will quickly realise that they are very straight forward and they won’t take you any time at all to memorize. Furthermore, you can always keep them to hand as you play.
Many players will also advocate using a betting strategy, such as the Martingale system, while they play. It is true that these can aid bankroll management; however, there is an argument that a flat betting system is preferable (this is when you bet the same amount on every hand).
There is no denying that proper bankroll management should form a part of every player’s strategy. However, rather than studying systems, just ensure that your bets are small enough that you can sustain them for as long as you wish. You can probably play around two hands of Caribbean Stud Poker per minute. This means that if your budget for the session is $200 and you know that you want to play for an hour, you should be betting in the region of $1.50 per hand, as you will play roughly 120 hands.
If you hit a long winning streak and significantly increase your bankroll, then you could increase the size of your bets. Alternatively, you could cash out your winnings to save them for a later session. It is also important to budget properly for side bets. These can be a lot of fun, but they can also eat away at your bankroll.
Caribbean Stud Poker Side Bets
Nearly every Caribbean Stud Poker game offers a progressive jackpot side bet. It is a hugely tempting bet to make as it offers the chance of great rewards. However, as mentioned it can burn through your bankroll very quickly, so place it with care.
The progressive jackpot side bet is usually fixed at $1 and between 70% and 80% of that money is then added to the jackpot pool. The progressive jackpot is won if you are dealt a Royal Flush. However, many versions of Caribbean Stud Poker offer smaller payouts for other high value hands. For instance, you may win 50x for a Flush, 100x for a Full House, 500x for Four of a Kind, and 10% of the jackpot for a Straight Flush.
You should be aware that the chances of being dealt a Royal Flush are extremely low, just 1 in 649,740. This is almost the same likelihood as being struck by lightning. However, a progressive jackpot is far more enjoyable than a lightning strike, and while the chances are remote, it is not impossible.
As should now be clear, it doesn’t take much work to truly master Caribbean Stud Poker. It will only take you a few minutes to learn the rules explained above. However, you should take some time to practice the game before betting vast amounts on it. Remember, that even with perfect strategy the house will always have an edge. Nonetheless, it is a hugely enjoyable game and who knows, maybe you will be lucky enough to hit the progressive jackpot.