Caribbean Stud Poker – Learn How to Play Popular Casino Poker Variation


11 minutes

Last Updated: May 13, 2022


Caribbean Stud Poker – Learn How to Play Popular Casino Poker Variation

Caribbean Stud Poker is one of the first hybrid poker games and certainly one of the most popular ones. During its relatively short presence of only a few decades, this poker variation has become one of the most popular poker games in the world, and for many good reasons.

The game is very easy and straightforward to pick up but still has the decision-making factor that requires the players to think and engage hand after hand.

On this page, we’ve summed up everything you need to know about the game, from how to start playing it to the best strategies on how to maximize your chances of winning.

If you want to learn how to play Caribbean Stud Poker, continue reading this guide, and you’ll pick up the basics within minutes!

Caribbean Stud Poker Rules

Although Caribbean Stud Poker’s exact history is unknown, it’s estimated that the game came up sometime in the 1980s.

Three-time WSOP winner David Sklansky claims he invented it, but there’s no evidence of this being the case.

All of that aside, despite the fancy prefix, this variation is just a five-card stud poker game with a few key differences. These include:

  • You’re playing only against the house (dealer)
  • You can’t bluff in Caribbean Stud Poker
  • No draws are made in the game

Aside from these three crucial differences, this game plays much like any other poker game. With that in mind, if you’ve ever played any of the popular classic poker variations, you’ll have no trouble mastering Caribbean Stud Poker in no time.


Like most table casino games, this one is played against the dealer, who represents the house.

Regardless of how many players are at the Caribbean Stud Poker table, everyone is trying to beat the dealer.

So, what are the essential rules in Caribbean Stud Poker? We’ll go over the standards you’ll typically come across when playing in US casinos.

In simple terms, Caribbean Stud Poker plays like a streamlined version of poker. Everyone at the table, including the dealer, gets five cards, with one major distinction. The dealer will flip one card, usually the last one, for everyone to see.


An important aspect of Caribbean Stud Poker is that the dealer has to qualify in order to compare cards and determine the winner.

For this to happen, the dealer must have at least an Ace-King. If the dealer doesn’t qualify, you’ll get your original ante back at a 1 to 1 payout. If you or any players made any extra bets, it’s a push, and everyone gets their money returned to them.

Caribbean Stud Poker Progressive Jackpot

The progressive jackpot feature in Caribbean Stud Poker is one of the most significant reasons why this table game was so well adopted among poker players.


Each player can participate in the progressive jackpot, often marked by a specific field. Keep in mind that not all casinos offer such a feature on their Caribbean Stud Poker tables, so make sure to check before you sit down and start betting your hard-earned cash.

The progressive jackpot isn’t connected to the regular bets and can reach sums of thousands, even tens of thousands of dollars.

To win the entire progressive jackpot prize in Caribbean Stud Poker, you need to get a royal flush.

If you get a straight flush, you’ll be eligible for a much smaller amount, usually around 10 percent of the total jackpot. Some casinos feature a sliding scale, which rewards even weaker hand combinations, such as quads or a full house.

Caribbean Poker Card Rankings

There’s not much to talk about when it comes to Caribbean Stud Poker card rankings. This is because they are identical to those in all high poker versions.

Going from high to low, the cards are ranked from Ace to 2. The Ace can also be the highest-ranking or lowest-ranking card in a straight. Other than that, all other poker hand combinations entirely apply in Caribbean Stud Poker rankings.

How to Play Caribbean Stud Poker

We’ve gone over all of the rules in Caribbean Stud Poker in great detail, but how do they pan out on the table, in what order?

Take a look at this step-by-step guide and learn how an average Caribbean Stud Poker hand plays out:

  1. To participate in the game, you must place the ante (initial bet) on the table.
  2. After everyone has placed the initial bet, the dealer will deal five cards to everyone at the table and flip the last of his five cards.
  3. You can look at your 5-card hand and choose if you want to place the extra bet (usually amounting to 2x your ante). You can also choose to fold, but you’ll void your ante bet and have to wait until the next hand.
  4. Once every player at the table has decided, the dealer turns over his four remaining cards to determine the winners and payout according to the paytable.

Caribbean Stud Poker Payouts

If the dealer has a qualifying hand and you have a hand that beats his card combination, you will get paid out according to the strength of your cards.

The exact payouts can vary based on the venue. With that in mind, let’s take a looking at the expected payouts and probability of each winning hand in Caribbean Stud Poker:

Card Combination Payout Probability
Royal Flush 100 to 1 1 in 649,351 Hands
Straight Flush 50 to 1 1 in 72,202 Hands
Quads 20 to 1 1 in 4,167 Hands
Full Boat 7 to 1 1 in 694 Hands
Flush 5 to 1 1 in 526 Hands
Straight 4 to 1 1 in 246 Hands
Three of a Kind 3 to 1 1 in 47 Hands
Two Pair 2 to 1 1 in 21 Hands
Pair 1 to 1 1 in 2 Hands

The information featured above covers only the situations in which the dealer qualifies. It’s also crucial to remember that if the dealer doesn’t qualify, you’ll only get paid on the ante. This means that you win even money on your bet.

Caribbean Stud Poker House Edge

Like some other card games, the house edge in Caribbean Stud Poker will vary depending on your decisions and how efficiently you play the game.

If you plan on playing Caribbean Stud Poker for the long run, the house edge is something you should heavily focus on. Here are some common pointers:

  • House Edge of 5.3% – Applicable to players who have a practice of folding any hand worse than A, K, J, 8, and 3, and those who often raise when the dealer’s face-up card matches their own.
  • House Edge of 5.4% – You can expect this house edge if you’re raising on a pair or better.
  • House Edge of 5.7% – Expected house edge when you’re raising on an A, K, or better.
  • House Edge of 16.5% – If your strategy revolves around raising on every hand, you can expect such a whopping house edge.

Best Caribbean Stud Poker Strategy

Unlike most other poker variations or games like blackjack, Caribbean Stud Poker doesn’t involve a lot of strategies or tactical thinking. There’s no deception in this game, and you can’t bluff your way into any wins playing Caribbean Stud.

There’s also no possibility of drawing any additional cards and improving your existing hand. In this game, you only have to be sure about one decision – whether or not you want to chase with your hand.


With the information of one dealer’s up-card and your hand, you have to decide if you want to continue betting or want to give up right away. If you’re a beginner Caribbean Stud Poker player, you should mainly focus on the following points:

  • Don’t Fold Small Pairs – Newbies are often disappointed when they get a pair of twos or threes, not realizing that they can often be very valuable. Although you still need a bit of luck to win with these, even low pairs can win quite frequently.
  • Fold Every Weak Hand – In line with the previous tip, you shouldn’t play any hand that lacks an Ace or a King and is not considered to be any of the combinations mentioned in the table above.
  • Know When to Call Pairs or Better – If you have a hand containing a pair or better, you should always call or raise. This applies across the board if the dealer’s hole card is any card from 2 to King and matches one of your cards. However, if the dealer’s hole card is higher than what you have in your hand ,you should avoid calling and fold right away.
  • Don’t Waste Time on Hands Without a High Card – As we mentioned above, the dealer’s hand qualifies around 50 percent of the time. For this reason, you should always be certain that your hand is potentially strong enough to beat the dealer, even if you only have a King or an Ace. If you don’t have at least one high card, it’s best to fold your hand and move on to the next one.

Playing Caribbean Stud Poker – A Brief Sum Up

Caribbean Stud Poker is certainly one of the best and most popular hybrid variations and is undoubtedly worth trying for everyone who loves playing classic poker.

It takes a lot from traditional poker and some other card games, making for a unique and exciting niche game.

The game has stood the test of time and proven to be a player-favorite in casinos all over the world. Caribbean Stud Poker is much simpler and easy to follow than traditional poker, but it also comes with a relatively high house edge you should always keep in the back of your mind.


Even though Caribbean Stud Poker can offer you some really nice winnings, this is not the reason why most players decide to bet on it.

They play it for fun, and when you try it out for yourself, you’ll know exactly why. If you’re looking for a fun card game to bet on, Caribbean Stud Poker might just be the perfect choice for you.

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