Caribbean Stud Poker

Who doesn't love a game of poker? This casino classic has been captivating bettors since time immemorial. To keep things interesting, of course, different variants of the original version have naturally emerged over time. One of them is Caribbean Stud Poker. This variant emerged in the early eighties. Traditional poker was in a golden age and alternative variations of the game popped up like mushrooms. It is unknown how and where it was born exactly. David Slansky claims to be the one who invented it in 1982. However, this version of the story is not entirely confirmed. What is certain is that its current name, Caribbean Stud, stems from the fact that it is especially popular on the Caribbean island of Aruba, where many tourists come each year just to enjoy this game in its "natural" environment.

What is Caribbean Stud Poker and how is it different?

If you are familiar with the rules of regular Five Card Poker, you won’t find it hard to get started with Caribbean Stud. Basically, it is very similar when it comes to card values and most of everything else. The biggest difference is that this version is strictly designed for casinos. As a result, you’ll always face the hand of the dealer, instead of competing against your fellow players. Another significant addition to the game is a jackpot. However, the exact rules for this can vary. Some casinos even added a progressive jackpot to their Caribbean Stud Poker tables that can be cracked by being dealt a royal flush while having a jackpot bet in play.

How to play – Caribbean Stud Poker rules

At Caribbean Stud Poker, you compete against the casino dealer, not other players. The game is played with a regular deck of cards, without jokers. It starts with putting down the ante. After that, you are dealt five cards. The dealer also receives five cards. One of the dealer’s cards is placed face-up on the table so that everyone can see it. You then determine whether you want to keep playing or if you would prefer to fold your hand. Folding means that you forfeit your ante that you put in earlier. If you think your hand is good enough to go on, you have to raise your bet and double your ante. When all players have passed or doubled, the dealer shows the four remaining face-down cards.

Then, the cards of each player are individually compared to those of the dealer. However, the dealer must have at least ace plus king high (AK) to qualify for the round. If the dealer doesn’t, all players still in the hand automatically win their ante bet and push their raise bet. If the dealer qualifies, however, there are three options:

  • You have a better hand than the dealer: you win and get paid out your ante bet (how much you’ll get paid for your raise bet depends on your hand)
  • The dealer has a better hand: you lose the ante and your raise bet
  • In case of a tie, your bet stands


The better your hand, the more you can win. As previously mentioned, you’ll always get paid one to one for your ante bet if you win against a qualifying hand of the dealer. The payout on the raise bet depends on the value of your hand. This is where the real winning potential of this game comes from:

  • 100:1 for a Royal Flush – A consecutive combination from 10 to Ace in the same suit
  • 50:1 for a Straight Flush –  Five consecutive cards of the same suit
  • 25:1 for a Four of a Kind – Four cards of the same rank
  • 10:1 for a Full House – Three of a kind with a pair
  • 7:1 for a Flush – Any five cards of the same suit but not in a sequence
  • 5:1 for a Straight – Five cards in a sequence but not of the same suit
  • 3:1 for a Three of a Kind – Three cards of the same rank
  • 2:1 for Two Pair – Two cards of the same rank
  • 1:1 for a Pair or a High Card – Two cards of the same rank or your highest card

Additionally, there are several Caribbean Stud Poker games where you have the opportunity to put down a jackpot side bet. The exact payout structure can vary from game to game and from casino to casino. Some of them even have a progressive jackpot connected to the game that is paid out when a player hits a royal flush. Typical jackpot payouts look something like this: 

  • You win the progressive jackpot if you hit a Royal Flush
  • 2,500 times your jackpot bet if you have a Straight Flush
  • 250 times your jackpot bet if you have a Four of a Kind
  • 100 times your jackpot bet for a Full House
  • 25 times your jackpot bet for a Flush
  • 10 times your jackpot bet for a Straight
  • Five times your jackpot bet for Three of a Kind

Caribbean Stud Poker strategies and other helpful tips

The optimal strategy for Caribbean Stud Poker is not rocket science. The simple rule of thumb is that you always play with one pair or better. You should always fold a hand that is lower than what the dealer needs to qualify for the round. Usually, this is ace plus king high, as previously explained. If the dealer qualifies, it means that he has a better hand than that anyway and, as a result, you would lose your ante and your raise bet. If you follow these simple rules, most hands are straightforward to play. 

GoodLuckMate’s best tips for playing Caribbean Stud Poker:

  • Always raise with a pair or higher
  • Always fold with less than ace/king
  • Raise on ace/king if:
    • the dealer's card is a 2 through queen and matches one of yours
    • the dealer's card is an ace or king and you hold a queen or jack in your hand
    • the dealer's rank does not match any of yours and you have a queen in your hand and the dealer's card is less than your fourth highest card

House edge – what are your chances of winning?

If you want to play Caribbean Stud Poker online you should be aware of the house edge that the casino has over the player. Now, this is not always easy to determine as it depends on the exact version of the game that you are playing and your strategy. If you follow the optimal Caribbean Stud Poker strategy, you will get a payout percentage of 98.19% at most tables. That is a house edge for the casino of 1.81%, which is a fantastic RTP compared to most casino games.

This sounds very interesting but do keep in mind that you always have to follow the optimal strategy to reach those numbers. If you deviate too much from it, the situation is completely different and the house edge will increase significantly. The same is true for jackpot bets. If the progressive jackpot is high it might be tempting to bet on it, but it’s rarely worth it. The payout percentage on a jackpot side bet can be lower than 80 percent. This depends, once again, on the casino and the exact version of the game you are playing as well as the amount of money accumulated in the progressive jackpot. 

Play Caribbean Stud Poker at online casinos

As Caribbean Stud Poker rules are very simple to learn, it is ideal for beginners. Combined with the thrill of a progressive jackpot, it shouldn’t come as much of a surprise that the game is immensely popular in online casinos as well. Some of the biggest game providers have developed their own versions of the game that can be played at all top online casinos. Amongst them are Evolution and NetEnt.  

Live dealer games vs RNG games

Most Caribbean Stud Poker casinos offer you a good selection of live dealer and RNG versions of the game. The foundation is always similar and they play pretty much the same. The biggest advantage of the Live Caribbean Stud is that you can follow the action at the table where a real dealer is shuffling the cards. This is not only more immersive, but it also means that you don’t have to rely on a random number generator to determine the outcome of the game for you. On top of that, live dealer Caribbean Stud oftentimes has way bigger progressive jackpots. But the RNG version has some advantages as well. For example, you can play free Caribbean Stud Poker online with play money. That way, you’re able to practice your skills without having to risk any money.

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