This amazing and enjoyable game was born on the Caribbean islands. Just how it got to the rest of the world is an easy tale. The primary vehicle was cruise ships. Soon, passengers were learning this game and before too long, it appeared in many casino pits. What’s amazing is that the game survived, so you know it’s good. Many games have been tried in casino pits and almost all fail.
Caribbean Stud Poker is popular because it’s so darn easy to learn and it’s fun. The game is played with a regular 52-card deck on a blackjack-style table. Each table holds up to 7 players. And of course, you can play at online casinos. Some online casinos have multi-player Caribbean Stud Poker. Even if you’re playing by yourself, it’s still a fun game.
When you look at a Caribbean Stud Poker table you’ll notice five main areas of interest to the game. The closest to your seat is the card area where you’ll receive your cards each hand. The dealer also has a card area. These are the two main focal points during a hand.
Following that up are the three betting areas in Caribbean Stud Poker. First, there’s the Ante spot. This is where you place your first bet for each hand. It’s required to play. The second betting spot is the progressive slot. If you slip $1 into the progressive slot before each hand, you’ll be qualified to win one of the progressive jackpots should you receive the proper hand. More on this later. And the last betting spot is the Raise wager spot. This is a required bet to stay in the hand after you’ve received your cards. We’ll discuss all of this in more detail shortly.
Seeing the betting options should put your mind at ease about this game. It’s not complicated. You bet, get your cards, bet a fixed amount to stay in, and win or lose. It’s very simple. Heck, even a child could pick up Caribbean Stud Poker to a degree and play. Perhaps the “biggest” item to learn is the hand ranking. But, if you already play poker or video poker, you know this. And if not, it’s fairly easy-especially online where they have help menus.
Next part of our Caribbean Stud Poker series we’ll talk about the action of a hand from start to finish. Later in the series, we’ll talk about payouts, hand ranking, and progressives, which vary from casino to casino. Some call Caribbean Stud Poker a “carnival” game, because the house advantage is high. Still, it’s a great game to break up the monotony and there’s nothing wrong with enjoying yourself every now and then.
How to play a hand of Caribbean Stud Poker
I told you that Caribbean Stud Poker was a fun and exciting game and we have went over some of the layout basics and the game setup. Now, we will continue the discussion by going over game play from start to finish. You know the setup of the game, so now it’s time to play a hand of Caribbean Stud Poker.
First, placing a wager on the Ante spot is mandatory. Don’t place it and you can’t play. Most tables have a $5 or $10 minimum wager, so this would be the lowest you could go on your ante. You basically have up to three decisions to make each hand and deciding to play by placing the ante is the first one.
Once you’ve anted up, it’s time to make your second playing decision of the hand. Do you want to play the progressive? If so, you need to place $1 into the progressive slot. By doing so, you’re qualified for all the progressive payouts should your hand qualify.
After that’s settled, the cards are dealt. Once you’ve analyzed your hand, the last decision that you’ll make on each hand is whether to fold and call it a day or to stay in and play. If you want to fold, you lose your ante and progressive and the hand is over. Should you stay, you must place a Raise wager. This wager is always double your ante. For instance, let’s say you anted with $10, your raise would be $20. It’s never more or less.
Let’s back up for a minute. After you ante and decide on the progressive, the dealer will deal you five cards. And these are your only cards of the hand (unlike draw poker). The dealer also gets five cards. Your goal is to beat the dealer’s hand. If you think you can beat the dealer’s hand, that’s when you raise and stay in. The dealer’s hand will reveal one card to you.
So let’s imagine that you’ve stayed in the hand. It’s time to evaluate all hands to see who wins. The dealer must have an Ace-King hand or better to qualify. If not, all bettors win their Ante bet only and all raises are simply returned. However, all progressives are paid. We’ll talk about hand rankings and payouts in the next segment of this series.
The downside about qualifying is felt when you have a good hand, like a four of a kind. If the dealer doesn’t qualify and you have a four of a kind, you’d be paid even money on your ante wager, say $10, and that’s it. By the way, antes are always paid even money. The raises are paid based on the hand ranking only if the dealer qualifies.
And that leads us into our next segment, hand payouts and progressive payouts.
Payouts in Caribbean Stud Poker
Up to this point we’ve talked about Caribbean Stud Poker’s layout basics, typical hand play and some other entry-level information. Now, we’ll continue the discussion by venturing into payouts. After all, that’s the best part, right? We’ll start with Caribbean Stud Poker hand payouts and finish with a segment about progressive payouts. Let’s get started.
As you know from our previous segment, the dealer must qualify for you to be paid on your raise wagers. Antes are always paid even money. Here’s a handy listing of what raise wagers are paid when the dealer’s hand rank is an Ace-King or better.
- One Pair: paid even money. Ex: $10 is paid $10.
- Two Pair: paid 2x your raise. Ex: $10 is paid $20.
- Three of a Kind: paid 3x your raise. Ex: $10 is paid $30.
- Straight: paid 4x your raise. Ex: $10 is paid $40.
- Flush: paid 5x your raise. Ex: $10 is paid $50.
- Full House: paid 7x your raise. Ex: $10 is paid $70.
- Four of a Kind: paid 20x your raise. Ex: $10 is paid $200.
- Straight Flush: paid 50x your raise. Ex: $10 is paid $500.
- Royal Flush: paid 100x your raise. Ex: $10 is paid $1,000.
Here’s an important note. These payouts are not globally applied. Each casino may have different payouts. For instance, I once saw an online casino that paid 200x on the Royal Flush and 6x on a Full House. Shop around. That’s vital for the progressives.
The real money in Caribbean Stud Poker is won via the progressives. These payouts vary from casino to casino, so shop around to find the best deal. Some will pay less on a Royal Flush, but a lot more on a Four of a Kind. Also keep in mind that these payouts are always made regardless of the dealer’s hand. It’s $1 per hand to get locked into the progressives.
Here’s an example setup for a Caribbean Stud Poker progressive:
- Flush: Payout of $50 – $100.
- Full House: Payout of $75 – $250.
- Four of a Kind: Payout of $100 – $500 (see, shop around).
- Straight Flush: 10% of the current progressive jackpot amount. Ex: progressive is $50,000 so the payout would be $5,000.
- Royal Flush: The big boy. It pays the whole progressive.
If you read any decent book on casino gambling, it will probably tell you that the progressive is a bad wager. But, they obviously haven’t been sitting at a Caribbean Stud Table and received a Four of a Kind only to see the dealer not qualify. To me, it’s a small price to pay for insurance.
Next, we’ll talk about hand rankings and perhaps look at some strategy for winning.
Rankings and strategy
We’ve looked at layout issues, hand play, the basics of the game and payouts. In this final installment, I’ll go over hand rankings and briefly touch on strategy.
It’s not wise to play the game without knowing how it works, so let’s go over hand rankings. If you’ve played poker of any kind, you probably know this already. It’s fairly simple. Here is the Caribbean Stud Poker hand-ranking list. I’m starting with the lowest hands first.
- High Card: This is the hand you have when you can’t make any hand. Your highest card is your hand.
- One Pair: Having two cards of the same rank, such as two Kings.
- Two Pair: When you have two cards of one rank and two more cards of an additional ranks, such as two Kings and two Queens.
- Three of a Kind: When you have three cards of the same rank, such as three Jacks.
- Straight: When you have five cards all in sequential orders, such as 6, 7, 8 ,9 and 10. As a note, the Ace can be used before the 2 or after the King.
- Flush: All five of your cards are the same suit, such as five clubs.
- Full House: You have three cards of one rank and two cards of another rank, such as three Jacks and two Aces.
- Four of a Kind: Four of your cards are the same rank, such as four 7s.
- Straight Flush: This is the same as the straight except all five cards are the same suit, such as hearts.
- Royal Flush: This is the granddaddy of the them all. It’s a straight flush that has the cards 10, Jack, Queen, King and Ace. Think the progressive is a waste of $1? Imagine you have this hand and the dealer doesn’t qualify. You’d be paid even money on your ante bet only.
Let’s close with a little strategy talk. Strategy is all over the place in this game. Since the dealer doesn’t qualify a good amount of time, I have two strategy ideas to present with you.
First, if you’re playing $10 or higher hands, bet the progressive. At $10 antes, the progressive is a 10% add-on, so it’s not too much. And you’ll be glad when you have a decent hand and the dealer doesn’t qualify.
Second, stay in hands when you have a hand. If all you have is a high card, you have to pray the dealer doesn’t qualify. I don’t think it’s worth risking 2x your ante for a shot in the dark.
Either way, Caribbean Stud Poker is a great game to play. I hope you’ll give it a try.