Caribbean Stud Poker is a meld-making table game based on the game mechanic and rules of the Poker genre of comparing games.
However, Caribbean Stud is not a comparing game in the same way as its relatives. Instead, it is a casino table game, where each individual Player faces off against the Dealer, instead of the whole table at once.
How to Play Caribbean Stud Poker?
Caribbean Stud Poker is played using the standard Anglo-American deck of 52 cards. As Texas Hold’em, Caribbean Stud is a “High-Hand” Poker game. This means that during the face-off, either the Player or the Dealer will have the superior hand (unless there is a tie), and the one with the highest value hand will win.
The hierarchy of melds in Stud will be explained below in the Hands and Payouts section of the guide.
The game begins with each Player making their initial wager in order to be dealt their cards. This wager is known as the Ante. Unlike many other Poker games, this Ante does not have to be equal for each Player.
Player 1 might place an Ante of $10, but Player 2 might place an Ante of $5. Most tables have rules that limit or require certain bets, a Minimum and Maximum bet.
The Initial Deal
Once each Player has placed their Ante, all Players that paid in will be dealt five cards at a time, all face-down. Players may look at their own cards, but not each other’s cards.
Once each Player has been dealt out, the Dealer will then deal themselves 5 cards, also face-down. One of those cards will then be flipped face-up, to reveal to other Players.
This card gives the Players at the table a very rough gauge of the Dealer’s possible hands. If a Player has a three-kind, for example, and they see that the Dealer’s revealed card is the 4th card of that three-of-a-kind, then they know that the Dealer at the very least does not have a pair, three-kind, or four-kind composed of that particular card.
Once the Dealer’s card has been revealed, Players are given the option to “Play, or Fold.”
Players that Fold surrender their Ante to the Dealer, and are not allowed to participate in the Showdown portion of the game, forfeiting all rights to winning a payout even if their cards would have won.
Play or Call
Players that choose to play, sometimes referred to as “Calling” at some casinos, must pay an additional wager that is exactly double their initial Ante. If the Player put in a $25 Ante, they must place an additional $50 on the table in order to continue with the game.
Revealing the cards (Showdown)
Once each Player has been given the chance to call or fold, the Players will then go in order, clockwise or counter-clockwise from the Dealer depending on the casino, revealing their hands and comparing them against the Dealer’s hand, which will also be revealed.
Players compare their hand against the Dealer one at a time and receive their payouts based on the payout table provided by the casino.
Although some casinos may set different odds, generally they want to maximize their own profit, and as such have the payout table set in such a way that provides the house with an Edge of nearly 5%. The most common payouts that one will find at a Caribbean Stud table will be provided below in the Hands and Payouts section of this guide.
There is another important rule Players should keep in mind:
- If the Dealer does not “qualify”, then the Player’s Call wager is returned to them without any additional payment. Players that beat the Dealer, whether or not they qualify, will always be paid out on their initial Ante 1:1.
Imagine a Player put $40 in their Ante, and then $80 in their Call, and then the Dealer does not qualify, the Player would win a total of $160. 80 returned to them from their Call, as the Dealer did not qualify, and an additional $80 from their wager for beating the Dealer.
The Dealer qualifies when they have at least an Ace-King, or higher. This means the Dealer must have at least an Ace and King in their hand, or they must have a pair or better.
Caribbean Stud Rules
In short, the official rules are as follows:
- Players that wish to Call and play the game must double their initial Ante. This means the Ante determines the total amount that will be bet on a particular hand.
- The House must “qualify” in order for payouts to be made on the Call. However, the Ante always pays out if it wins even if the Dealer does not qualify.
- Players do not play against each other. As a table game, Caribbean Stud Poker is played against the Dealer or “House.”
- One of the Dealer’s cards is left face-up before Players make their decision to Play or Fold.
Hands and Payouts
Caribbean Stud is played using the standard Poker hierarchy of melds. Aces in Caribbean Stud are both high and low.
Payouts for Caribbean Stud Poker are based on the quality of the hand. If the Dealer qualifies, and the Player wins in the comparison against the Dealer, then the Player will receive a payout based on their Call wager and only on their call wager. The Ante is considered separate from the Call wager, and does not receive a payout multiplier like the Call wager does.
When a Player beats the Dealer, their Ante is always won in a 1:1 ratio, meaning they win back their Ante as well as another sum of money equivalent to their Ante.
The following table demonstrates the most common payouts one will find at a casino’s Caribbean Stud tables:
|Royal Flush||♥(10, J, Q, K, A)||100x|
|Straight Flush||♣(8, 9, 10, J, Q)||50x|
|Four Kind||4♦ 4♣ 4♠ 4♥||20x|
|Full House||7♦ 7♣ 8♠ 8♣ 8♥||7x|
|Flush||♠(8, 5, Q, 10, 3)||5x|
|Straight||3♦ 4♣ 5♠ 6♠ 7♣||4x|
|Three Kind||3♥ 3♦ 3♣||3x|
|Two Pair||2♣ 2♠ 8♣ 8♠||2x|
*Players that manage to win against the Dealer with only a pair, which can only happen if the Dealer has a weaker pair or Ace-King (as they must qualify), will only receive a 1:1 payout on their call wager, the same as their Ante.
Imagine the following scenario in a game of Caribbean Stud:
You make an initial Ante of $20 in order to be dealt cards.
3♠ 5♦ 7♦ 10♥ K♥
The Dealer has the following card showing:
Even though one of the four Kings is in your hand, it is still more likely for the Dealer to qualify this hand, as they already have one of the two cards they need if they do not have a meld in order to qualify. As such, in the case of a qualifying dealer, it is up to the Player if they wish to Play or not.
The above hand is not very strong, absent of any components in order to form a meld. As such, a Player in this situation, with a Dealer that is likely to qualify and with a very weak hand, should consider folding.
Although hindsight is 20/20, and the Dealer might have junk or maybe even won’t qualify, the risk is too great due to the weak hand in the Player’s possession. As such, Players should probably fold in this scenario.
Frequently Asked Questions
How do you win in Caribbean Stud Poker?
Caribbean Stud Poker is unlike other poker games, where players face off against each other in a table-wide Battle Royale. Instead, in Caribbean Stud, Players are facing off against the Dealer. For that reason, players only need to form a hand that is better than the Dealer’s.
With one of the Dealer’s cards face-up, it is also possible to discern the Dealer’s possible hands. If there is any card below a 9 as the face-up, players know that it is impossible for the Dealer to have a Royal Flush, for instance.
What is the house edge in Caribbean Stud?
Caribbean Stud has a house edge of about 5%. This is a higher edge than in more popular “professional” games, such as Texas Hold’em or Blackjack.
What are the odds of winning?
Considering the house edge, the odds of winning a significant payout consistently are actually quite low. This essentially means the house will win 5% more of the time than the Player, or about a 45% chance to win for the Player overall.
What is the 5+1 Bonus?
The 5+1 Bonus is a side bet that can be made, but only after a Player has already paid in their Ante. In order to successfully receive a payout for the 5+1 bonus, a Player must use their five cards, plus the Dealer’s face-up card, in order to form a meld of a three-kind or better. The 5+1 Bonus can be paid out even if a Player loses the Showdown against the Dealer.
What is the best hand in Caribbean Stud Poker?
The best hand in Caribbean Stud, as in most Poker games, is the Royal Flush. Aces are high and low, meaning a Royal Flush might be 9, 10, J, Q, K, or 10, J, Q, K, A.