Casinos have many poker-based games on offer – though none are as popular as Caribbean Stud.
This popularity is due to a combination of straightforward game-play, the chance of hitting a strong poker hand and getting paid off with a big win, and some giant progressive jackpot payouts.
This article explains how to play Caribbean Stud Poker so that a beginner can jump right in and start playing the game. You will also find a guide to the progressive jackpot payouts (there are several prizes) and a comparison of this game with other online casino poker variations.
Caribbean Stud Poker – How The Game Works
Unlike traditional poker games, each individual plays against the house or ‘dealer’ position in Caribbean Stud. Before the cards get dealt, players need to place their bets.
There are a total of 3 bets in this game. First the Ante, which you must place in order to be dealt into the game. If you then want to continue with your hand after seeing your cards, you will need to place a ‘Raise’ bet, which is exactly double the amount of the ante. Make sure you have enough chips left to place this raise before you start the hand. The 3rd bet is exactly $1, this is a separate progressive jackpot bet, the outcome of this final bet does not depend on the dealer’s hand. I look at this as a separate optional jackpot game with some potentially huge payouts.
Bet sizes vary in real casinos, with $2 to $10 Ante’s being common. Online you will usually find that the minimum is $1 with a maximum per hand of around $50. Whether live or online the Raise portion of the bet is always double the ante.
The Deal And Decision
Each player and the dealer are dealt 5 cards each. You will see your own cards, and one of the dealer’s 5 cards will be turned up (called the ‘upcard’).
This is the key decision point in the game.
Based on your cards, you can either fold your hand – in which case your ante bet is lost and you participate no further – or you can raise by placing a bet of exactly double the ante on the table.
Which you choose depends on your hand, and to a lesser extent the dealer’s upcard. If your hand is Ace-King high or better (a pair, 2 pairs etc) then you should always raise. If your hand is Ace-Queen high and the dealer does not show either an ace or a king then you should also raise. In all other cases it keeps the house edge to a minimum to fold your hand.
Does The Dealer Qualify?
Next the dealer turns over her unseen cards. Whether the dealer has a ‘qualifying’ hand or not makes a huge difference to the payouts. If the dealer has Ace-King high or better, the hand qualifies and is compared to the hand of the player(s) using the standard poker hand rankings. If the player has a better hand then payouts on the ‘raise’ part of the betting are determined by the payout chart below. In addition the ante is paid out at 1-to-1 on top!
If the dealer does not qualify, then it does not matter what hands the player(s) are showing at all – the ante bet is paid at 1-to-1 and the raise bet is returned. This can be frustrating when you have a good hand and the dealer fails to qualify. In some cases the payout from the progressive jackpot side-bet can mean you still get some money (though you will need a great hand – see below).
Here is the payout table for your hand against the dealer
- Royal Flush
- Straight Flush
- Four Of A Kind
- Full House
- 3 Of A Kind
- 2 Pairs
- 1 Pair or Ace-King High
The Progressive Jackpot Bet
For an extra $1 per hand you can participate in the progressive jackpot game alongside the game against the dealer. This gives you the chance of a seriously large payout (I have seen Caribbean stud jackpots at some casinos go over the $1,000,000 mark). On the other hand, your bankroll will go down a little faster. You win the big prize by hitting a Royal Flush. Some cash will be left to seed the next jackpot at most casinos, but this will still be a massive win!
For me this jackpot bet adds some extra excitement to the game, and the extra payouts for straights, flushes, 4 of a kind and straight flush can add up while you wait to be dealt the Royal Flush which will scoop you the big prize.
Here are the payouts:
- Royal Flush
- Straight Flush
- 4 Of A Kind
How Does Caribbean Stud Poker Compare To Other Casino Poker Games?
What I love about this game is the combination of simplicity and the potential for big wins. If you play it live you will also find this a friendly game compared to blackjack (for example), where ‘taking someone’s 10’ can get you a terse comment!
Comparing Caribbean Stud with Pai-Gow Poker is like comparing chalk and cheese. Pai-Gow is a complex game involving high and low hands and is an accumulator rather than a big-win game. This format is so complex that most people simply choose ‘house way’ and let the software do it for them online. While Pai-Gow does have a following, it is not in the same league of popularity compared to Caribbean Stud.
Comparing Caribbean Stud with Tri-Card poker is a closer match in terms of speed and enjoyment of the game. Tri-Card only has 3 cards, and so there is not the scope for the full Royal Flush jackpot. You can still get some good payout on a 3-card straight flush though. There is a side-bet game in addition to the hand against the dealer. I recommend fans of Caribbean Stud give tri-card poker a try (pun intended!) at some point soon.
Other variations include Casino Holdem and Caribbean Draw / Holdem variations. Casino Holdem tris to emulate the popular multi-player Texas Holdem poker variant. For me it just about works, though it feels like more attention and focus is required. For the other ‘Caribbean’ games, well, I’ll sign off by saying that the Stud hits the sweet spot for casino poker games – there is a reason why this game is so much more popular than the others.
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