Caribbean Stud Poker Strategy




Optimal Caribbean Stud Strategy

As a player, you only make one choice in Caribbean Stud: Whether or not to continue with your hand when you’ve seen your five cards and the dealer’s up-card. 

This first and only is obviously important.

Basic Raising Strategy

1. Fold any hand without a pair or better that doesn't contain at least an ace and a king (same as the dealer's qualifying hand.)

The folding part is easy enough – it's the unpaired ace-king hands that are difficult to play. As a rule of thumb, you want the dealer's up-card to match one of the cards in your hand in order to raise.

2. Raise with any pair or better - even the small pairs, even though they have a small chance of winning if the dealer qualifies.

In fact, even a raise with a pair of deuces plus low side cards yields positive expectation in the long run – even though it’s very close to break even.

The dealer will qualify a little over half the time in the long haul – 56% to be exact – so if you have a playable hand, you’re in good shape to beat the dealer.

This strategy is not optimal, but it is very close. If you were to play according to the optimal strategy you would end up with loads of charts and tables. It’s very complicated.

The regular gambler will do well just remembering the basic strategy above, and he will only give up a fraction of a percent to the house.

The Progressive Jackpot

The progressive-jackpot side bet can certainly add to the excitement, but under normal circumstances it's not very profitable.

You want the jackpot to be quite large in order to play, but if it's large enough, you could even have a positive expectation from the side bet. This also depends on the house rules, but in order to reach break-even in most casinos the progressive jackpot should contain at least $150,000.

This is rarely the case, and in most online casinos there’s a $10,000 or $5,000 cap on the jackpot.

As you may understand, this makes the Caribbean Stud side bet one of the true sucker bets in the casino. On average, the house has a 25% advantage. Ouch!

Caribbean Stud House Edge

Caribbean Stud has a comparatively high house advantage, a little over 5% if you play optimally.

As said earlier, playing a perfect game is quite complicated, but if you follow the tips in this article you should end up with a 5.3% advantage in the casino’s favor. 

As you can see, optimal blackjack or good bets in craps, for instance, offer much better odds, but if you feel like playing casino poker, why not give Caribbean Stud a shot.

At least it’s better than most slot machines and most wagers in craps and the odds are even on par with American roulette.

History of Caribbean Stud

Caribbean Stud is one of the more recent casino games. When it was invented people had voluminous hair styles, wore bright tuxedos and talked in brick-sized cell phones. And if you wanted to do all that with class, you did it on a Caribbean cruise ship. The game was first played on Aruba and on ships circling the islands. With the popularity of the game growing, it was soon adopted by the Las Vegas casinos.

The Short History of Caribbean Stud Poker