Caribbean Stud Poker: An Introduction

Caribbean Stud Poker is a casino table game that is similar to five-card stud, with the main difference being the player plays against the house and not other players. The game is also famous for having a progressive jackpot running at all times where players have been known to scoop hundreds of thousands of dollars for their $1 stakes.

The game is relatively new so it is unusual for there to be no official record into who it was created by or where but the accepted story involves a well-known American poker player and author by the name of David Sklansky. The story goes that Sklansky invented a game called “Casino Poker” but failed to get a patent for the game in Las Vegas so trademarked the name instead.

A few years later a friend of his knew a man in Aruba in the Caribbean who owned a casino and they introduced the game to him in the late 1980s. They changed the rules so that the dealer only exposed a single card and not two of them, added a progressive jackpot and called it Caribbean Stud Poker. They then managed to get a patent for the game and it has remained the same ever since. A few years later the casino owner sold the patent to a company called Mikohn for $30 million.

The rules are simple, as are most casino games, and to start a round a player places a bet in the ante box, and also a $1 bet into the progressive jackpot slot if they wish and is dealt five cards face down. They then have to choose whether to fold or raise. Folding forfeits the antes they place and if they choose to raise they have to be twice the amount in the ante box. The dealer then reveals their entire hand but it only comes into play if they have at least an ace and a king in it, otherwise the player wins his ante bet paid out at 1:1 odds. The player will also win varying amounts depending on their hand strength ranging from 1:1 for a pair or less all the way up to 100:1 for a Royal Flush.

There has been an optimal strategy created for Caribbean Stud Poker but unfortunately it is extremely complex and it is not practical to attempt in a casino and would take too much time to make it profitable even if playing in an online casino. The optimal strategy gives the house a 5.224% advantage but simply raising all pairs or better and Ace/King/Jack/Eight/Three or better gives the house an advantage of 5.316%, hardly any difference.

You will not go far wrong by simply raising all pairs and folding any hand that does not contain the dealer’s qualifying hand, Ace/King.

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