How to Play Caribbean Stud

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Also known as Caribbean Poker, Caribbean Stud, also is a rather new card game that was first introduced aboard cruise ships in the 1980s. After casinos added a progressive jackpot to the payouts, its popularity rose by leaps and bounds. The game is played with one or more decks of 52 playing cards by up to seven players, plus a dealer.

The specially designed Caribbean Stud table used in casinos features a slot with on/off lights to accept progressive jackpot wagers. In the multi-deck version of the game, cards are placed in a dealing “shoe” and collected in a discard tray after play.

Every player receives five cards and the object of Caribbean Stud is to beat the dealer’s five cards by holding a higher ranking poker hand. To receive a payout, the dealer’s losing hand must contain at least an Ace-King or better, otherwise the player’s wager is returned. Payout odds typically appear on the table’s surface.

Beating the dealer pays 1-to-1. Higher payouts are awarded for higher ranking hands, starting at 2-to-1 for winning with two pair, 3-to-1 for three-of-a-kind, and 4-to-1 for a straight, and so on. The top hand, a Royal Flush, pays 100-to-1. Quite often the maximum payout per hand limited, but progressive jackpots for a Royal Flush may be worth tens or even hundreds of thousands.

There are two betting areas on the surface of the table, one for the “ante” and a second for the “bet.” The progressive jackpot side bets are optional and most often cost one unit. A hand begins as soon as all players have placed their “ante” bets—which can be any amount within the posted limits.

Cards are dealt face down to each active player clockwise from the dealer’s left, with the dealer’s hand dealt last. When all participants have five cards the dealer exposes one of his/her own cards for all to see. Players may then look at their own cards to decide if they may have a potential winner. Of course, sharing hand information between players is not allowed.

Next, the players have the opportunity to raise or fold. Those who fold lose their ante. Those who wish to play on must double their initial wager by placing a bet equal to the ante in the appropriate spot on the table. Then, the dealer turns over his/her four remaining cards.

If the dealer’s hand does not contain at least an Ace-King, it does not “qualify.” All remaining players receive even money for their antes and their raises are returned as a “push.” No additional premiums are paid.

If the dealer’s hand qualifies and wins, the losing players’ antes and raises are lost. If the dealer’s hand qualifies and loses, the winning players’ antes pay even money and the raise is paid out at whatever odds are indicated on the pay table. Should the dealer and player have identical hands, it is a “push” with no winner and both the ante and the raise are returned to the tying player. The progressive jackpot pays out when the player has a Royal Flush, regardless of the outcome of the hand and not subject to dealer qualification.

It is possible to use progressive betting systems for the ante wager. This allows large raises to be made when a strong hand is received following a series of losses. From a strategic point of view, it is not advisable to raise on low pairs or strong Ace-high hands, unless to protect a large ante. Most losses in Caribbean Stud come from surrendered antes as opposed to lost raises. The House maintains an edge of about 5%.

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