p How to Play Caribbean Stud

How to Play Caribbean Stud

Excerpt from

The Intelligent Guide to Casino Gaming

by Sylvester Suzuki

Caribbean Stud is a game that was first introduced to American casino gamblers aboard cruise ships that plied the Caribbean Sea. Like its close cousin “Let It Ride,” it is a variation of Five-Card Stud poker. However, in Caribbean Stud, players are not merely trying to qualify for a payout based on an established payout schedule; they are also trying to beat the dealer’s hand. The game is played on a small table similar to that which is shown in the figure.

Caribbean Stud Table Layout

Caribbean Poker Table Layout

The game begins with players placing the amount of their wagers in the Ante Boxes. Usually, the minimum bet will be $5. Players may also make side bets by placing $1 in the circle that is located above the Ante Box. This side bet, which is usually limited to a $1 bet, will be discussed later on.

After the dealer has accounted for the side bet, using a standard 52-card deck, she will deal each player, as well as herself, five cards face-down. She will then expose one of her cards. At this point, based on the qualifying hand table that follows, players must decide if their hand is strong enough to beat the dealer’s hand.

Caribbean Stud Qualifying Hands
Hand
Description
Royal Flush
A, K, Q, J, and 10, in the same suit.
Straight Flush
Five cards in sequence, all in the same suit.
Four of a Kind
Four cards of the same rank.
Full House
Three cards of one rank, two cards also of equal rank.
Flush
Five cards in the same suit, not in sequence.
Straight
Five cards in sequence, not in the same suit.
Three of a Kind
Three cards of the same rank.
Two Pair
Two cards of one rank, two matched cards of another rank.
One Pair
Two cards of the same rank. Other cards of various ranks.
Ace-King High
No pairs, but the hand contains an Ace and a King.

If the player considers his hand to be strong enough to beat the dealer, he will call by placing double the amount of his ante into the Bet Box. If the player does not wish to call, he will fold by placing his cards face-down in front of him. The dealer will then pick up the cards in addition to the player’s ante. After each player has acted on his hand in accordance with the foregoing, the dealer will then turn over her four remaining cards and determine if she has a qualifying hand as indicated in the previous table.

If the dealer does not have a qualifying hand, all remaining players win an amount equal to the ante, but do not receive payment on their call bet. The amount that was in the Bet Box is merely returned to the player.

If the dealer does have a qualifying hand, but the player still wins, the player will win even money on his ante and a bonus payment on his call bet as shown below.

Caribbean Stud Bonus Payout Table
Hand
Payout
Royal Flush
100 to 1
Straight Flush
50 to 1
Four of a Kind
20 to 1
Full House
7 to 1
Flush
5 to 1
Straight
4 to 1
Three of a Kind
3 to 1
Two Pair
2 to 1
One Pair
1 to 1

If the dealer has the winning hand, the player will lose his ante as well as the amount that was in the Bet Box.

With a 52-card deck, a total of 2,598,960 different combinations of five cards are possible. Forty-four percent of these hands will not be qualifying hands. This means that, assuming that no player will call with a hand that does not even qualify, forty-four percent of the time that a player calls, he will have the dealer beat, but will not get paid for his call bet. In other words, if a player has a royal flush, which is an extreme 649,740 to 1 long shot (see the next chapter), there is a forty-four percent chance that he still will not win the meager 100 to 1 payout that is indicated in the Payout Table. If you have a low tolerance for frustrations of this type, a Caribbean Stud table is probably not the place for you, notwithstanding the fact that there are other tables in the casino that have a higher house advantage. Perhaps Let It Ride, which is discussed in the next chapter, might be better suited to your temperament.

Basic Playing Strategy

It is recommended that the call be made under the following circumstances:

• Whenever you have a pair (even a pair of deuces) in your hand. This recommendation is based on the fact that if you do not make the call, you will forfeit your ante and there is a 50% chance that the dealer will not even have a pair in his hand. Do not be intimidated if the dealer is showing a “scare” card such as an Ace or a King. If you have a pair of deuces, you would prefer that the dealer show an Ace or King rather than a three. Why? Because if an Ace or King helps the dealer make a qualifying hand, it will probably be an Ace-King high hand which your lowly pair of deuces will beat, thereby qualifying you for a bonus payment. However, it makes no difference to you whether you lose to a pair of Aces or a pair of threes.

• Whenever you do not have a pair, but do have an Ace and King as high cards. However, exercise caution if the dealer is showing an Ace or King because your third highest card then becomes very important. If the dealer is showing an Ace or King, call only if your third highest card is a queen.

The Progressive Jackpot

One way to avoid frustrations of the type that were described in the previous paragraph is to participate in the progressive jackpot. However, the cost may be high. Payouts from the progressive jackpot are totally independent of the basic game. In other words, payment will be made without regard to whether or not the dealer has a qualifying hand. A typical payout table for the progressive jackpot is shown below. However, there may be significant differences between casinos.

Caribbean Stud Progressive Jackpot Table
Hand
Payout
Royal Flush
100% of jackpot
Straight Flush
50% of jackpot
Four of a Kind
$100
Full House
$75
Flush
$50

The size of the jackpot depends on the amount that was collected from previous progressive jackpot participants. In general, immediately after the jackpot has been hit, the casino will “seed” the new jackpot for a predetermined amount. Thereafter, a percentage of each progressive jackpot collection will go towards increasing the jackpot until it is again hit.

Note that the odds of getting a royal flush with five random cards are almost 650,000 to 1. To put this into perspective, if you were to play 50 hands per hour, 40 hours per week, 52 weeks each year, with average luck, you should expect to get a royal flush approximately once every 6.25 years. Giving consideration to the fact that during that time, you will have many thousands of other smaller winning hands, it is estimated that participation in a progressive jackpot pool, as is described above, will not have a positive expectation unless the jackpot is more than $200,000. However, this may vary greatly between casinos because some casinos pay different amounts for flushes, full houses and four of a kind than is shown in the table. Some casinos also make payments for straights. Regardless, because payment from this progressive jackpot pool is made only for a few long shot hands, participation in this pool should be expected to result in a substantial drain on your funds, unless of course, you happen to get extremely lucky and hit the big one.

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