The history of Caribbean Stud Poker

Caribbean stud poker was invented in the mid-1980s on the Caribbean island of Aruba. It began to be played on cruise ships and gradually spread to casinos around the world. It differs from other poker games as it is played against the casino which acts as banker. Instead of playing for a pot, the winning hands are paid out at fixed odds. There is also no bluffing involved. In order to win, you have only to beat the dealer’s hand. The other player’s hands do not affect the outcome of your bets.


The game
The object of the game is to win by having a five-card poker hand that ranks higher than the dealer’s. Each player makes an ante-bet and is dealt five cards face down. The dealer receives four cards face down and one card face up.

Players then look at their cards and have the option to play or fold. If a player folds, his ante-bet is lost. If a player decides to continue, he must then make a further bet of double his ante-bet.

The dealer’s hand is then revealed. He must have an ace and a king or higher in order to play his hand. If a player’s hand beats the dealer’s, the ante-bet is paid at evens. See the below Table for the odds for the second bet. If the dealer does not have at least an ace and a king then a player is paid even money on the ante-bet and the additional bet is void (not lost). If, however, the dealer’s hand beats the player’s, both bets are lost.

One pair or less           1/1 (even)

Two pair                      2/1

Three of a kind            3/1

Straight                       4/1

Flush                           5/1

Full House                    7/1

Four of a kind               20/1

Straight Flush               50/1

Royal Flush                  100/1


If the dealer and the player play the same poker hand, the remaining cards are taken into consideration. If all five cards are equal, the hand is void (the bet is not lost). Neither the ante-bet nor the additional bet is paid. The type of suit makes no difference to the hand.

The disadvantage of this game is that you are relying purely on luck. There is no skill involved. You do not have the opportunity to bluff. In poker games where you are playing for a pot, you are still able to win even with a poor hand but with Caribbean stud poker, if you have a poor hand, you stand little chance of winning.

The minimum odds in this game are evens. In a normal game of poker with, for example, seven players, you would have odds of at least 6/1 and quite often a great deal better. The odds paid for the additional bet are also poor compared to the chances of achieving them. Odds of 100/1 are paid for a royal flush, yet your chances of being dealt one are 649,739/1. The only advantage you have is that you know how much each game is going to cost you.

Caribbean stud poker should be played only for amusement purposes. If you want to win money, you are better advised to play games where you are contesting for a pot.


Caribbean stud strategy
Caribbean stud poker has a house advantage of 5.26 per cent. By playing the following strategy it is possible to cut the house advantage to about 2.6 per cent. You need to decide whether to play or fold your hand. You should fold if you don’t get a minimum hand of an ace and a king.

Players should raise when they hold any pair or an ace and a king. With some hands you need to match the dealer’s up card to reduce the possibility that the dealer has a pair.

Player’s hand        Dealer’s hand                  Action
Lower than A K                                      Fold
Any pair              Any up card                 Raise
AKQJx                Any up card                  Raise
AKQxx                Must match one card     Raise
AKJxx                 Must match one card     Raise
A K 10 xx            Must match one card     Raise

The $1 progressive jackpot bet is extremely difficult to win. It is not worthwhile playing until the level of the jackpot exceeds $263,000.