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There are five types of Caribbean stud poker games. The game itself is made more complex than it actually is. Stud Poker means you do not draw additional cards - you must live with the cards you are dealt. This normally would limit the strategy of a game, but this game variant introduces a progressive jackpot as well as other choice to raise or fold. To start with, the play lays down an ante to receive their 5 cards. The dealer gets 5 cards as well, but only one is face up. The player now has a choice - they can either raze or fold. A fold will cost the player the full value of their ante and the game is over. Should the player rise, they need to add 2X the ante to the pot. For example, a $5 ante would necessitate a $10 raise - for $15 total stake. The game would continue.
The dealer then exposes their hand. In dealer’s hand must have at least an Ace and King in their hand to qualify. Any pair or above also qualifies the dealer. Should the dealer qualify, the two hands are compared using traditional hand rankings. If the player's hand beats the dealer, they are paid even money on their ante - $5 in the example above. The remaining $10 wagered would be paid additional monies, based on the quality of the hand. The table below shows the payout for the additional bet.
So, should your hand produce a 3 of kind, you would win $30 on the additional bet, plus the $5 you won on the ante.
Should the dealer NOT qualify, the player would win on the ante bet, but push on the raise. It does not matter if the dealer's high card is higher than yours. And even if you made a royal flush, you wouldn't be paid unless the dealer hand qualifies. And remember it is 5 card studs, so making a qualified hand does not happen anywhere near every hand.
For an additional $1, you can be entered for a progressive jackpot. The progressive jackpot pays itself in full when a royal flush is hit. The progressive will pay 10% of the value for any straight flush. Additionally, the extra dollar bet pays if you have a four of a kind, full house, or flush. The payout is usually $500, $100, $50, respectively - but can vary widely - usually lower than numbers quoted.
Basic Caribbean Stud Poker Strategy After you pay your ante, the only decision point occurs after you have seen all your cards. Always play through if you are holding a pair or higher. Generally, you should usually fold if your hand value is less than A-K. If you hold A-K (no pair), you should fold, unless certain conditions are met involving the dealer's exposed card. For example, if the dealer upcard is also in your hand, you should play - except if the upcard is a king or ace. An optimal strategy will only cost you a fraction of a percent and is very difficult to master, so stick to the basics. The chart below shows why it is OK to play with generalized rules:
The progressive bet is not a good wager, unless the jackpot is extremely high - about a quarter million dollars on average, but depending on the payouts for the other winning hands. With jackpots usually starting at 10K, it rarely gets high enough to make it worth playing. The payouts vary a lot - so look for games which pay high for a four of a kind, as they seem to be most beneficial to the player. If you are feeling lucky, go for it. Gambling is about the excitement and hope for a big payday - just don’t be too disappointed if today isn't your day.
The Statistics: 5 Card Stud is extremely difficult to make good hands, as seen in the table to the right.
If you are playing the progressive jackpot, you will only have a paying hand once in every 480 hands on average. That is the frequency which you will get a flush or better. There is a 56% chance the dealer hand will qualify... That means on 44% of the hands, the dealer will not qualify and the most you can win is even money on your ante bet. This also puts the pay table out of reach on almost half the hands. Assuming both hands have a 56% chance to qualify, that means only 1 on every 3.2 hands will generate 2 qualifying hands.
As standardized as many casino games are, it is amazing how diverse Caribbean Stud poker is played at various casinos - both online and offline. But the house edge is always right about 5%, without the progressive bet. Considering how simple the game is, the game is made overly complex. It is also frustrating as getting a big hand happens very infrequently. And while the dealer has the same odds to hit a big hand, it's no fun when more than half your hands are junk.