Caribbean Stud Poker: A Comprehensive Guide to Mastering the Game

how to play caribbean stud poker
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Caribbean Stud Poker, also known as Casino Stud Poker, is a casino table poker game based on five-card stud poker. Unlike standard poker games, Caribbean Stud Poker is played against the dealer’s hand rather than against other players.

This guide will provide you with everything you need to know to get started playing Caribbean Stud Poker. We will go through the basic rules, how to play, and the different hand rankings.

We will also tell you where you can find the best poker sites to play Caribbean Stud Poker. Let’s get started…

The Basics of Caribbean Stud Poker

The main thing you need to know about Caribbean Stud Poker is that it uses standard hand rankings. So if you’re familiar with Texas Hold’Em, Omaha or Five-Card Draw, you should be well on your way. We’ll go through the hand rankings later.

What distinguishes this version from other poker games is that you play against the house instead of other players. While there may be more people at the table at the same time, everyone is playing against the same dealer. The betting structure is also different from other poker games. Rather than multiple betting rounds, where you can raise and call other players’ bets, you must instead place an opening wager, known as an ‘ante bet’. There is only one further betting round, where you double your original bet if you wish to continue playing.

After that, five cards are dealt to the player face down. The dealer then deals the house’s five-card hand, with one card placed face up. Once the dealer’s hand has been dealt, players can look at their cards and decide whether or not to play or fold.

…you play against the house instead of other players

Caribbean Stud Poker Rules

The rules of Caribbean Stud Poker are standard for most casinos and poker sites, but the payouts and betting limits may vary depending on location and site.

To play, each player must place an ante bet on a marked spot on the table. These must be placed before the dealer calls for no more bets to be allowed. Players also have the option of joining the progressive jackpot bet. This also must be done before the dealer starts play. There is usually another designated spot to place your bet for the progressive jackpot.

Play commences with the dealer placing 5 cards in front of each player, face down. The dealer also places five cards in front of him/her, with the last card being face up. After this, the players may look at their cards.

If a player chooses to play, they raise their bet to equal twice the amount of the initial ante. They place this bet on another designated spot, labelled ‘bet’. If a player chooses to fold, he/she forfeits their ante. Once all the players have placed their bets, the dealer proceeds to turn up their remaining four cards.

The dealer only qualifies to play, if their hand contains an Ace/king, a pair, or any higher-ranking hand. The dealer’s hand is then compared to the player’s hand.

If a player’s hand beats the dealer, they win the ante and the raise. Depending on the winning hand, the bet can be multiplied. We’ll come to the payout and the related hand later.

If a player ties with the dealer, both the ante and the raise return to the respective player. If the dealer’s hand does not qualify, the ante gets paid out even money, while the raised bets are returned.

How to Play Caribbean Stud Poker

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Now that we have the basics covered, let’s follow a standard game:

  1. The Original Ante Betting Round: To get started, a player must place an opening bet called an ante. A player does this by placing a chip in a designated mark called ‘Ante’.
  2. Optional Progressive Jackpot Bet: A player can also choose to join the progressive jackpot. They do this by placing another chip on the spot labelled progressive jackpot bet.
    Once all the players at the table have placed their ante, the dealer calls ‘no more bets’.
    To commence play, the dealer places five cards in front of the player, face down.
    The dealer then proceeds to place five cards in front of him/her, with only the last card facing up. Play then proceeds to…
  3. The Final Betting Round: Once the cards are dealt, and players have had the chance to look at their own cards, they have the opportunity to place a raised bet (a bet equaling double of the original ante) or fold. If a player chooses to raise, he/she places chips on the designated spot, labelled bet.
    After the player has placed a raised bet, the dealer then proceeds to turn the remaining four cards face-up. The dealer then compares your hand to theirs.
    If the dealer does not have at least an Ace & King, players are paid back even money on their ante wager only. Even money means you get paid back exactly the same amount you put in, along with your initial chip.
    If your hand ties with that of the dealer’s hand, your ante, along with your raised bet, gets returned to you.
    If your hand wins, you receive a payout which depends on the strength of your hand.
    Most progressive jackpots pay out the jackpot to a player who has a Royal flush.

Caribbean Stud Game Hand Rankings

The poker hand rankings for Caribbean stud are standard hand rankings.

You can see an overview of the hand rankings, from the strongest to weakest below:

Poker hand rankings for Caribbean stud poker

Payout

As we mentioned earlier, if your hand beats the dealer’s hand, you always get paid 1 to 1 on your ante. However, on your raised bet, you will only get paid even money if the dealer’s hand does not qualify.

If your hand beats the dealer’s, and is a two-pair or better, your bet is multiplied according to the strength of your hand.

The following table gives the standard payout for each hand:

HAND PAYOUT
1 Pair or Less Even Money
2 Pairs 2 to 1
3 of a Kind 3 to 1
Straight 4 to 1
Flush 5 to 1
Full House 7 to 1
4 of a Kind 20 to 1
Straight Flush 50 to 1
Royal Flush 100 to 1

The probability and odds against each hand are:

HAND PROBABILITY ODDS AGAINST
Royal Flush 0.0001% 649,739 to 1
Straight Flush 0.001% 72,192 to 1
Four of a Kind 0.02% 4,165 to 1
Full House 0.1% 693 to 1
Flush 0.2% 509 to 1
Straight 0.4% 254 to 1
Three of a Kind 2.1% 46 to 1
Two Pair 4.7% 20 to 1
One Pair 42.2% 1.3 to 1
High Card 50.1% 0.99 to 1

How to Play Online

If you’re ready to get started, follow our step-by-step guide to playing Caribbean Study Poker online:

  1. Choose a casino: Our expert team has spent years checking out the top online casinos for poker, so check out our list of recommended sites to find one that’s right for you.
  2. Create an account: You’ll need to register for an account before you can play online, which usually involves entering some personal information, providing proof of your identity and verifying your account via email.
  3. Check out any bonuses and promotions: After you’ve registered your account, make sure you check for any generous welcome bonuses on offer that can include cash credits to let you play for free.
  4. Find a table: Head to the table games section of the online casino to see what Caribbean Stud games are available. Also, take a look at the Live Dealer section to see if you’re able to play a live version of the game.
  5. Start playing: Place your ante bets, hit ‘Deal’ and start playing. Good luck!

How to Play Caribbean Stud Poker at Land-based Casinos

Playing at land-based casinos is a little different to playing online. Here’s how to play if you’re visiting a physical casino:

  1. Get your chips: You can get chips from the cashier’s cage before visiting a table or provide cash at the dealer directly. Try to bring cash rather than credit or debit cards, as fees can be high at casinos when using cards.
  2. Find a table: When you’re looking for a table, make sure you keep an eye out for the table limits. All tables will have their limits clearly marked (usually near the dealer). Look for one that’s within your budget.
  3. Take a seat: If there’s a seat available at the table, take a seat. This will signal to the dealer you’re ready to play. Get your chips from the dealer, or place the chips you already have from the cashier’s cage on the table.
  4. Place your bets: Place your wager in the betting circle to start your first hand!
  5. Collect your winnings: If you win, wait for the dealer to place your winnings beside your original bet before grabbing your chips.
  6. Cash out: When you finish, let the dealer know and take your chips to the cashier’s cage to cash out.

Tips and Strategies

The best tip when you’re playing this version of poker is:

  • If you’ve got a pair or better, make a raise or call bet.
  • If your hand is worse than Ace-King, fold.

When you’re holding an Ace-King and no pairs, it can be a little more complicated. It often depends on the rank of the dealer’s up-card.

If it’s between two and a Queen, make a bet if you’re holding a similar card or if the dealer’s card is worse than your fourth-highest card.

If the dealer’s up-card is an Ace or a King, make a bet if you’re holding a Queen or a Jack.

How to Deal Caribbean Stud Poker

If you’re playing at home, deal the same way as if you were playing at a casino. Each player is dealt five cards. The dealer also gets five cards.

After each player decides whether to play or fold, the dealer turns their fifth card over so it’s visible to all players.

Make sure you agree on the table limits before starting, even if playing with friends and family, so everyone is happy with the terms.

Who Created Caribbean Stud Poker?

Professional poker player David Sklansky allegedly invented this version of poker back in 1982. It was originally known as Casino Poker, though the rules of this version are different to how we play Caribbean Stud Poker today.

In the original version, there wasn’t a progressive jackpot feature, and the dealer revealed two of their cards instead of one. At the time, Sklansky couldn’t patent the game because of strict patent laws.

A few years later, another poker player took the game to the King International Casino (Excelsior Casino) in Aruba. The player and the casino altered the rules slightly and patented it, creating the version we play today.

Developed on an Island in the Caribbean Sea

Another story of how this version of poker came about was that it was first played on a cruise ship headed to Aruba. The rumour is that the owner of the Excelsior Casino (which used to be known as The King International) purchased the game after it was discovered.

The King International

There’s also another theory about a gambler who was down on his luck and offered to teach another gambler, James Suttle, how to play this version in 1987 for $5,000. However, James Suttle denies this version of events.

Apparently, Sutton knew he could sell this version of the game to a friend who owned the King International Casino. The game didn’t have instant success, however, until the owner spoke to a computer software engineer, discussing the strengths and weaknesses of the game.

The assessment was that the game favoured the house too much and that players needed a greater incentive to play, which is why they added a progressive jackpot. Once they added this, Caribbean Stud started to become more popular.

The computer engineer then went to work for Progressive Games, which eventually split into two companies in Florida and Nevada. The Florida company began distributing Caribbean Stud, while the original casino owner’s son operated the Nevada branch and also made a distribution deal for the game. But there were lots of licensing issues and non-payment issues for years, which is perhaps why the game’s history is so unclear.

Caribbean Stud Variations

There are a few different variations to Caribbean Stud that you can also play, either online or in a physical casino, including:

Hold’em

Players and dealers both receive two hole cards in this version. A three-card ‘flop’ is then dealt, and the players and the dealer share that. Based on your cards, you can decide whether to make a call bet or fold. If you decide to keep playing, an additional two communal board cards are dealt. To qualify, the dealer needs to have a pair of fours or better.

Heads up Hold’em

In this version of the game, both the players and the dealer are dealt two hole cards each. Players can then check or make a bet three times the ante.

A three-card communal flop follows this. Players who checked can then make a bet of two times the ante or check again.

Two more communal board cards are dealt. Players who checked must make a bet equal to the ante bet or fold. The dealer needs a pair to qualify.

Ultimate Texas Hold’em

Ultimate Texas Hold’em is the same as Heads up Hold’em with one key difference. Instead of making a bet of three times the ante, players bet four times the ante when playing this version.

Side Bets

Players can make a side bet of $1 that pays for hands that are a flush or higher. The payout varies depending on the casino you’re playing but always features a progressive jackpot that pays out 100% for a royal flush and 10% for a straight flush. If two players have a royal flush, the first player to the dealer’s right wins the jackpot.

If two players hold a straight flush, the first player to the dealer’s right receives 10% of the jackpot, and the second receives 10% of what was left after the first player’s payout.

Did you Know…

Professional poker player, David Sklansky, is alleged to have invented the game in 1982 under the name ‘Casino Poker’. The rules of this original game differed slightly from the modern version. For instance, there was no progressive jackpot and the dealer had two cards revealed, instead of one. However, Sklansky could not patent the game due to patent laws. A few years later, a poker player brought the game to the King International Casino (Excelsior Casino) in Aruba and had it patented. The player and the casino altered the rules and created the ‘Caribbean stud poker’ we know today.

Find Casinos to Play Caribbean Stud Online

If you feel like giving Caribbean stud poker a go but want to get a feel for the game before playing for real money, you can find free versions of this poker game version at any of the top online poker sites in NZ.

The Bottom Line

Caribbean Stud is a great poker game to try out if you want to get away from the stress of bluffing and competing against a table of other players. You should always remember that Caribbean Stud Poker does have a house edge.

So, while it may be entertaining to try, it can quickly become costly if you play too often. Having said that, with the right crowd it can be quite exciting, and there is always the outside chance of winning the Jackpot.

Caribbean Stud Poker FAQ

What is the best strategy for this version?

Unlike other poker variants, your only real decision is whether your hand is good enough to continue or fold.
Always play if you're holding a hand that contains a pair or better. And consider folding if you're holding a hand weaker than Ace-King.

If you're dealt an Ace-King, try these tips:

  • If the dealer's up card shows any card between two and Queen, and you're holding a card of the same rank in your hand – raise.
  • If the dealer's up card shows an Ace or a King, raise if you're holding a Queen or a Jack.
  • If you're holding a Queen and the dealer's up-card shows a card that is less than your fourth-highest card, raise.

Is Caribbean Stud worth playing?

Caribbean Stud Poker can be a lot of fun, and if you enjoy playing this version, then it's worthwhile. But it doesn't offer great odds compared to some other poker variants and table games found at online casinos. So, if you're just out for a game that offers a decent house edge, then it may be worth choosing another game.

How do you win at Caribbean Stud Poker?

There are two ways you can win playing this version of poker. The first is if the dealer fails to make a hand of Ace-King or better. The second is if you beat the dealer's hand by holding a better five-card poker hand.

What is the best hand?

As with nearly any other type of poker (apart from low-hand versions), the best player you can aim to build is a Royal Flush. This is a straight flush that is made up of cards from 10 to Ace in the same suit.

A straight flush is the next best hand you can aim for. A straight flush comprises five cards of the same suit in a sequence. For example, 10, 9, 8, 7, 6 - all diamonds.

What is the house edge on Caribbean Poker?

The house edge is actually quite high at 5.2%. This is higher than many other table games at online casinos, including roulette, blackjack, and Texas Hold'em.

What are the rankings in Caribbean Stud Poker?

The ranking of poker hands in this version of poker is similar to most other variants. An unpaired high card is the worst hand you can hold, while a Royal Flush is the best hand. The full hierarchy of poker hands can be found in the Caribbean Stud Poker guide above.

What is the 5 1 bonus in Caribbean Stud Poker?

In some online casinos, you may be offered an additional bonus opportunity. This is based on the best hand that you can make using your five cards, as well as the dealer’s face-up card. Payouts for this bonus typically start for hands of Three-of-a-Kind or better.

How do dealers qualify?

After each player has placed a bet or folded, the dealer exposes their hand, arranging the cards face up to form the highest-ranking hand possible. The dealer's hand only qualifies if it contains at least an Ace and King or One Pair or higher.

References:

  • Wikipedia. “Caribbean Stud Poker”, https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Caribbean_stud_poker
  • Youtube. “All American Casino Guide – How to Play Caribbean Stud Poker”, https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=J-EZTS85RxI
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Noah Adams
Noah Adams
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Noah is the senior content editor at CasinoCrawlers and a writer with many iGaming articles under his portfolio. Therefore, he is skilled at writing bonus guidelines, gambling strategies, and casino reviews. During his spare time, he enjoys playing Call of Duty and is a huge rugby fan.

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