And even if you’ve played poker all your life, as you walk through the tables you’ll find poker variations all over the floor you might never have heard of.
One you should find familiar, though, is Caribbean Stud Poker. Despite the fancy name, Caribbean Stud poker is more or less the same as good old fashioned 5-Card Stud – a game you likely played around the kitchen table with your grandparents.
If you’ve played 5-Card Stud you have all the game knowledge you need to play Caribbean Stud right away, although there are a few key differences to take note of before you sit down:
- Bluffing in Caribbean Stud Poker is non-existent
- No draws are made (although you might find some rare Caribbean Stud variations where a draw or two has been added)
- You’re playing against the house at all times – not other players
Outside of those small differences, you’re ready to play Caribbean Stud poker!
Rules of Caribbean Stud Poker
The actual rules of Caribbean Stud poker are simple. The dealer at the table will deal out 5 cards, face down, to each player at the table that has placed the initial bet (ante) on the table.
The dealer will then deal a 5-card hand face down to themselves with one major difference:
- They will flip one card (typically the last) over to display face up
Once that card is flipped up you can look at your own 5-card hand and decide if you’d like to place an extra bet (generally 2x the ante bet) on top of your ante bet.
If you decide to fold, you will lose your ante bet and will have to wait until the next hand is dealt to play again. You can continue on in the hand only by making the additional bet.
Caribbean Stud Poker – When Does the Dealer Qualify?
Once every player at the table has decided either paid the extra bet or folded, the dealer will then look at the full hand in front of them.
To “open” their hand the dealer MUST have at least:
- Ace-King or higher
The lowest possible qualifying dealer hand would be A-K-4-3-2.
If the dealer can’t “open” their hand and you have made the additional bet you will get your original ante paid out 1-1. Your extra bet is a push and returned to you.
If the dealer can open their hand, you have made the additional bet and your hand is higher than the dealer’s hand you will be paid out:
- The ante bet paid out 1-1
- The additional bet paid out according to a chart at each table with a sliding scale for higher hands
Generally, you can expect to be paid out 1-1 for a pair and up to 100x for a Royal Flush. See an example table below:
- Royal Flush pays 100 to 1
- Straight Flush pays 50 to 1
- Four of a Kind pays 20 to 1
- Full House pays 7 to 1
- Flush pays 5 to 1
- Straight pays 4 to 1
- Three of a Kind pays 3 to 1
- 2 Pair pays 2 to 1
- 1 Pair or less pays 1 to 1 (even money)
The payout table will vary slightly depending upon which individual Caribbean Stud poker table and casino (live or online) you play at. Be sure to check the table payouts before placing any additional bets.
If the dealer’s hand is higher than your hand, you will lose both the ante bet and your additional bets.
Remember: Each player is ONLY playing against the dealer alone, not the other players. Even if your 5-card hand is higher than another player’s you will still lose your bets if the dealer’s hand is higher than yours.
If your hand and the dealer’s are exactly the same all bets are a push and returned to the player.
Note: You will find that the dealer’s hand will qualify and be “opened” roughly 56% of the time.
Caribbean Stud Betting Limits
At a live casino, the smallest ante bet you’ll find at a Caribbean Stud poker table is likely $5 but there’s a chance you can stumble across a $3 table every now and then.
With online Caribbean Stud Poker you will find much lower limits – with the ante even capped at $2.50 in some cases.
Caribbean Stud Progressive Bet
There is also usually an additional optional wager you can place to qualify for the progressive jackpot. This supplemental bet has to be placed before the dealer announces bets are closed.
If your 5-card hand is a:
- Royal Flush
- Straight Flush
- Full House
you will win the bet, regardless of whether you beat the dealer’s hand or not. You will be paid out according to a sliding scale, however, with a Royal Flush claiming 100% of the progressive jackpot and a Flush, for example, paying out a much smaller percentage (usually 10%).
The progressive jackpot will be different at every table depending, obviously, on when it has last been paid out and how much has been contributed since. The current amount of the progressive jackpot should be clearly displayed at each Caribbean Stud poker table.
The standard progressive bet on most live Caribbean Stud poker tables is $1 but again can be much lower online.
Additional Caribbean Stud Poker Bets
5+1 Bonus Bet
On some online casinos (eg. Evolution Gaming) an optional side can be made. This is called the 5+1 bonus bet and pays if the player can make three-of-a-kind or better on any 5-card hand combining their own 5 cards plus the dealer’s exposed card.
Progressively higher hands are paid out on an escalating scale with a Royal Flush paying out up to 1,000x the bet.
How to Determine a Winning Caribbean Stud Hand
The best 5-card hand in Caribbean Stud poker is the same as the best high hand according to the standard hand ranking chart for Texas Hold’em and Omaha. If you need a refresher, hands ranked from best to worst:
- Royal Flush
- Straight Flush
- Full House
- Two Pair
- High Card
For more detail check our Poker Hand Ranking page here:
- Official Poker Hand Rankings
As in usual poker high-hand games, Aces can complete a straight at the high (A-K-Q-J-T or low (A-2-3-4-5) end.
Caribbean Stud Poker Online Live Dealer
If you’d like to play Caribbean Stud poker online you can usually opt between a completely automated online Caribbean Stud Poker table or one with a live dealer.
A live dealer online Caribbean Stud poker table will operate very much like a live one with the dealer viewable via a live streaming camera set up by the table. The online player will commit to and transfer all bets online but can interact with the dealer via chat box.
Look for live dealer Caribbean Stud poker games online at any casino site which uses the Evolution Gaming software. See our full list of live dealer online casinos here:
- Live Dealer Online Casinos
Caribbean Stud Poker Online – Basic Strategy Tips
By learning how to play optimal Caribbean Stud poker strategy you can decrease the house edge from about 5% down to less than 1%, so it’s definitely worth your while to learn the basics.
Caribbean Stud Poker Strategy Tip #1 – Don’t Play the Progressive Bet
The first, and most important, is to avoid playing the progressive jackpot bet. Like most progressive jackpots, it looks really good. You’ve also got five different hands you can hit to get a share of it.
The truth, though, is your odds of making one of those 5-card hands in one deal are very, very low. So low, of course, that you will never make even money by playing the progressive jackpot bet.
The actual house edge in most cases with the progressive jackpot bet is 26%, which shows you how unfavorable it is.
By all means, of course, play the progressive jackpot bet if you’re just out to have a good time and like a little thrill to your gamble. But long term, it’s not a winner.
Caribbean Stud Poker Tip #2 – Always Raise with Pair or Better
By “raise” here we mean pay the additional bet after the hands are dealt. In this case, if you are dealt anypair (yes, this includes 22) you should ALWAYS pay the extra bet to face the dealer’s hand.
Caribbean Stud Poker Tip #3 – Always Fold Any Hand with Less Than AK
If you’re five-card hand has an Ace and a King or higher, play on. If you don’t have at least and Ace and a King, fold it. Every time.
Caribbean Stud Poker Tip #4 – If You Have AK, Bet if Up Card is Queen or Lower
More sophisticated Caribbean Stud poker strategy is required if you are dealt Ace-King.
If you’re holding AK and the dealer’s up card is a queen or lower (and matches one of your cards – meaning it is less likely the dealer has a pair with that card), always bet.
If the dealer’s up card is an Ace or a King, but you have a Queen or a Jack as well, you should also play the extra bet.
Play Free Caribbean Stud Poker Online
Caribbean Stud poker is offered at virtually every online casino. As mentioned, the payout tables will change slightly depending on which casino and table you’re at. Generally speaking, the house edge is around 5% but as outlined if you play the right Caribbean Poker Stud strategy you can decrease it substantially.
if you’d like to play free Caribbean Stud poker online you can always check out the instant play or free play software provided by every casino. it’ll give you a very good idea of how to set your bets and manage your controls but truthfully it’s a very easy game to get a handle on.