Caribbean Stud Poker is a game that gives the casino a chance to offer fast-moving poker action to players without the need of running a poker game with players. Although the name may imply exotic rules it is actually the simplest of all poker games, five-card stud, played in a blackjack-style table game. Players compete only against the dealer’s hand and not other players.
The game’s biggest attraction in a casino is the presence of a linked progressive jackpot in the manner of slot machines. A slice of the jackpot is won with any hand that is a flush or better. Punters can also find draw poker and hold’em poker games that are played using Caribbean-style rules.
Caribbean Stud Poker History
Despite its exotic sounding name Caribbean Stud Poker is simply a game to give gamblers a chance to play the most basic of all poker games – five-card stud – against the house. The origin story of Caribbean Stud Poker is a bit murky but dates back to the 1980s and a game popular on cruise ships. A fellow by the name of James Suttle with connections to casino owners bought the game from a down-on-his-luck gambler in Binion’s Horseshoe Casino in Las Vegas in 1987. Suttle then sold the rights to Danny Jones who owned a casino located inside the Holiday Inn in Aruba called King International Casino.
Jones peddled the game with indifferent success for several years. The problem was that “casino poker” was just too strong a game for the house. That was not much of a concern to tourists who were looking to play a few hands of poker and hop back on the cruise ship but was more of a worry to casinos seeking to build regular clientele. The solution came from poker player and computer programmer Michael Titus who realized that the game needed a progressive element similar to that of slot machines to draw punters to the table. Jones and Titus worked out the first live progressive shared jackpot for table games and the newly named Caribbean Stud Poker has been a casino fixture ever since.
How To Play Caribbean Stud
When joining a Caribbean Stud Poker game the player is matching hands and wits with the dealer, not the other players at the table so there is no need to worry about competing strategies and shenanigans. Before cards are dealt the player makes a mandatory ante at the game limit and also has the option to take a crack at the progressive jackpot with a second and separate bet at the prescribed amount. Depending on casino rules you will win a share of this linked jackpot with a flush, full house, four-of-a-kind, or straight flush. A royal flush takes home the entire jackpot.
After all bets are accounted for the players and dealer all receive five cards. The dealer’s last card arrives face up. There is no draw and no bluffing so if you have nothing you muck your cards and lose your ante and your progressive bet if you have made one. If the player thinks the hand will beat the dealer’s hand based on the upcard when it is revealed an additional amount is wagered that is twice the ante.
When all players in the game have folded or played the dealer’s hand is revealed. If the dealer does not have a poker hand of at least King High he folds and there is No Play. Players who stayed in the hand have their ante returned and a matching amount from the house. All secondary bets, however, are returned without additional money since there is no play. If the dealer does have a playable hand the secondary bet is in play. If the player wins his return is based on the pay table, usually even money on the ante and even money for a pair up to 100X for a royal flush. If the dealer’s hand prevails the player loses the ante and the secondary bet. Progressive bets are unaffected by game play – the player does not lose the jackpot if a full house is trumped by a dealer’s straight flush.
A European version of the game is called “Casino Five Stud Poker” which can have a jackpot (Casino Jackpot Five Card Stud Poker) or not. In Caribbean Draw Poker both the player and the dealer are given the opportunity to improve their hands by replacing one or two cards with a draw; in this version the dealer’s play hand must be at least a small pair, usually Eights or Better, instead of just King High. Caribbean Hold’em is also on offer, although without the critical strategic elements of bluffing and raising.
Caribbean Stud Poker Tips & Advice
The house edge in Caribbean Stud Poker against optimal strategy is in the neighbourhood of 5%. A player can reduce the casino advantage by holding to a tight strategy of never folding any pair and automatically folding anything less than A-K. if the dealer’s upcard is an ace or a king and you hold A-K-Q or A-K-J you should play the hand as you hold blockers to the dealer’s pair and a likely higher hand. Also raise an A-K hand if the dealer’s card is a deuce through queen and you hold the same value card in your hand that will act as a blocker.