Caribbean Stud Poker

Caribbean stud poker is a five-card stud variant designed to be played one-on-one against a dealer. It’s found at a ton of different online casinos, including live dealer games, and it offers a balance of action and strategy that’s reasonable for players who don’t want to put in a lot of work to master how to play every type of scenario. Use the top list to find the best online casino to play Caribbean Stud Poker at along with a great bonus offer.

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Introduction to Caribbean Stud Poker

Most styles of casino poker offer players some balance between luck and skill that keeps the game exciting while still giving you situations where you’ll have to think a bit to come up with the best play. Playing online Caribbean stud gives you a good balance between these elements, but because of the common side bets that are completely optional, you can add just about as much action as you want with chances to take down big progressive jackpots. Alternatively, if you just want to sit around and enjoy a fun game while meeting people online, live dealer Caribbean stud games will allow you to do just that.

In short, it’s a game with a lot of potential for you to pick out the types of tables that will give you the kind of experience that’s tailored to what you want as an individual.

The History of Caribbean Stud

In the 1980s, a lot of different casinos were coming up with table games based on poker concepts due to the popularity of the game at the time. The most popular games then were based on stud-style variations instead of hold’em variations that are mostly played today, and that fit well within the structure that’s usually found at different types of casino poker tables.

Well-known poker author David Sklansky has claimed that he invented a game very similar to the modern version of Caribbean stud around this time but that he received incorrect information that led him to believe that he wouldn’t be able to patent it. He essentially gave the game away for free and taught it to a number of people, according to his claims, and it was eventually patented in its current form by what’s now known as Excelsior Casino in Aruba (then King International).

There were some key changes in the rules to Sklansky’s game, which he referred to as Casino Poker, compared to the Caribbean stud tables that you’ll see today. The number of dealer cards that are face-up was changed, and there were no side bets in his version. With that having been said, and with the caveat that he’s generally considered trustworthy by the industry as a whole with things like this, there’s no way to tell if David Sklansky actually invented the game or not. However, we do know that it was patented by King International Casino in Aruba within the time frame that he suggests.

Rules and Play Procedure

This game is all about two five-card poker hands facing off against each other, so the winner is determined by five-card poker hand rankings. You will need to know these hand rankings in order to make decisions about how to play your hand.

There are a number of available side bets in different Caribbean stud games online that are outside of the normal flow of the game as well. Those will be considered further down below.

Stud Poker Hand Rankings

Very briefly, we want to cover the poker hand rankings for players who might not be familiar with them or who may need to brush up on the order in which the hands are ranked. These are listed in order from strongest hand down to weakest hand, along with their chances of being dealt to the player in this game, and the hand closest to the top of the list will win.

  • Royal Flush – The cards A, K, Q, J and T all of the same suit. (1/649,741)
  • Straight Flush – Any five consecutive cards other than AKQJT all with a matching suit. (1/72,193)
  • Four of a Kind – Four cards of the same rank where the fifth card doesn’t matter. (1/4,166)
  • Full House – Three of a card of one rank with two other cards of a different rank. (1/694)
  • Flush – Five cards, not consecutive, all of the same suit. (1/509)
  • Straight – Five consecutive cards where all of them are not of the same suit. (1/255)
  • Three of a Kind – Three cards of the same rank where the other two cards do not have the same rank. (~1/47)
  • Two Pair – Two cards of the same rank with two other cards of a different rank where the fifth card does not matter. (1/21)
  • One Pair – Two cards of the same rank where the other three cards are irrelevant. (~1/2.4)
  • High Card – A hand that does not qualify for any of the above (~1/2).

For the purposes of the results of this game, your hand will always be considered as the highest-ranking hand on this listing that’s possible with the five cards you were given.


One of the key aspects of this game that has helped it to maintain its popularity over time is that the gameplay is straightforward without a lot of complications. Consider the following as for how a hand of Caribbean stud goes:

  1. You start out by making an initial bet called the ante for the regular game. Any side bet wagers, including for a progressive jackpot, will be made at this point as well.
  2. Five cards are dealt to the player face-up, and five cards are dealt to the dealer so that all but one are face-down.
  3. The player decides to fold or raise: Folding means that you give up your ante and any chance of winning the hand, and raising means that you add an additional wager worth twice the value of the ante.
  4. Once your decision is made, the dealer’s remaining four cards are revealed, and it’s decided if the dealer qualifies: The dealer needs at least AK-high to qualify. This means a high card hand with both an ace and a king in it.
  5. When the dealer does not qualify, the ante pays 1:1 regardless of the player’s cards, and the raise is simply returned to the player.
  6. If the dealer qualifies, and the player’s hand loses, then both the ante and the raise are lost.
  7. If the dealer qualifies, and the player’s hand wins, the ante pays at 1:1, and the raise pays according the raise pay table. This pay table can vary, and we’ll look at different options below, but the idea is that you’ll get better wins for better hands.
  8. Progressive jackpot wins are based completely and totally on the five cards that the player is dealt, and the player can lose the hand and still get a progressive jackpot payout because the dealer’s cards are irrelevant for these wins.

There are two main variables that can change how the game goes from this basic style of gameplay: the structure of the raise pay table and the structure of the progressive jackpot pay table.

Raise Pay Table Structures

There isn’t really a standardized pay table for how raise bets pay out in this game. What this means for players is that you can shop around a bit to see what’s available from different software providers in order to try to get better payout rates. This is done by picking the tables with the lowest house advantage that you can.

To give a standardized approach to comparing the different games, we’re going to list out the house advantage available with computer-generated perfect play at online Caribbean Stud tables from a variety of different software companies.

  • Microgaming – 5.01 percent
  • Cryptologic – 5.21 percent
  • Evolution Gaming (Live Dealer) – 5.21 percent
  • Galewind – 3.35 percent
  • Realtime Gaming – 5.21 percent
  • Playtech – 5.22 percent

While the Galewind pay table was the best that we could find, it’s not as popular as a software as the other options, and it doesn’t have any interesting side bets, so there are downsides as well.

Progressive Caribbean Stud Jackpot Payout Structures

You’ll find a lot more variation in the Caribbean stud progressive jackpot pay tables than the raise tables, but they almost always have a few things in common. First, they usually pay 100 percent of the progressive for a royal flush and 10 percent of the total jackpot for a straight flush. From there, you’ll get static wins on various hands that usually pay out for a flush or higher, but there are some that will pay you for three of a kind or better.

Players who are interested in situations where a progressive jackpot can be high enough to make it profitable in the long run for the player shouldn’t get too excited about the jackpots for Caribbean stud. For the most popular pay tables, you need the jackpot to get well over the €250,000 mark, and that very rarely happens because they pay out so often (the chances of getting a royal flush are only around 650,000:1, much more likely than most slot-based progressives, for example).

Caribbean Stud Strategy

Of all of the table games that use poker motifs and concepts, the basic strategy for Caribbean Stud is one of the easiest for a new player to pick up and run with because it’s so cut and dry. There are multiple levels of strategy that you can use depending on how much you want to learn for the game, but the basic level is really simple.

Something to understand about this game is that playing online is different than playing live because if you were able to see the cards that the other players were dealt at the table, then it could help you to make better decisions in certain situations.

Keeping that in mind, the most basic online Caribbean stud strategy (being online is important since you’re the only person at the table) is to simply raise if you have a pair or better and to fold if you have a high card hand. This will have you playing correctly almost always.

To improve on that, you can learn advanced AK-high strategies along with learning how seeing cards from other players’ hands could help you.

AK-high Strategies

There are certain situations where you can break away from the basic strategy and raise if you have AK-high instead of folding. Remember that AK-high is when you have a high card hand that includes both an ace and a king.

The relevant information you have to make a decision in these spots, which are admittedly uncommon, are the three remaining cards in your hand (called kickers) along with the one card that the dealer is showing. To use these advanced strategies, you’ll look first at the dealer’s card and then compare it to those three kickers that you hold.

Along these lines, we’ll give you two rules for these AK-high strategies:

  1. Dealer Shows Ace or King – Raise if you hold a queen or jack in your kickers.
  2. Dealer Shows Queen or Lower – Raise if it matches one of your kickers.

Adding these exceptions to basic strategy will improve your payout rate and lower the house advantage, but keep in mind that it’s virtually impossible for a player to learn how to play perfect Caribbean stud poker. Instead, we can just try to make the house edge as small as possible with these types of strategies.

Player Collusion

Here’s the premise to know when it comes to Caribbean stud collusion: In theory, if there were at least seven player hands being dealt at a time at a Caribbean stud table, then players would be able to collude to get an advantage of a couple of percentage points against the house in the long run.

There are a few problems with putting this into practice:

  1. Tables at brick-and-mortar casinos do not allow players to show each other their cards, and collusion is not allowed.
  2. Typical online tables only deal to one player at a time.
  3. Live dealer games usually deal fewer than seven hands at a time. Otherwise, players could try to collude using telephone or instant messaging systems.

With that having been said, you could still use this type of strategy in certain situations, especially at online live dealer Caribbean stud tables, with six or fewer hands being dealt at a time. It wouldn’t get an edge against the house, but it would put you in a position to lower the house advantage down to something better than what you typically see when playing alone, so it’s a fun idea to think about.

Live Dealer Caribbean Stud

Evolution Gaming is the most popular provider to offer live Caribbean stud tables as a part of their software package. Vivo Gaming and some other smaller companies have been known to run this game, but you won’t find their games all that often, so we’re going to focus on what’s available from Evolution.

They offer a pretty balanced raise pay table that we described above, but they also offer some great side bets that include a progressive.

The 5+1 Bonus Bet uses the dealer’s up-card along with all five of the player’s cards to give wins if at least three of a kind can be made. The highest payout with this side bet is 1,000:1.

The Progressive Jackpot works much like what we described above in our section on progressive jackpot pay tables. However, something that stands out here is that you’ll get payouts for three of a kind or more, which means this side bet is a win more often than most Caribbean stud progressives.

Tie-in With Caribbean Draw Poker/Oasis Poker

There’s another style of casino poker that will be called either Caribbean draw poker or, less commonly, Oasis Poker depending on where you play online. Caribbean stud is related to this game because you’ll actually play a hand of caribbean stud within each hand of Caribbean draw poker.

The basic idea is that the draw variation has the cards dealt in the same way as the stud variation, but before you decide to raise or fold, you get an option to draw up to five cards for a given price. The price is usually a multiple of the ante, so you’ll spend 1x the ante to draw one card, 2x the ante to draw two cards and so on.

We mention this tie-in because to learn to play that game well, you have to understand the rules and strategy for the Caribbean stud poker as well since you’ll actually play a hand of it after the draw even if you decide not to take the draw.

In fact, if you play Caribbean draw poker and never take the draw, then you’re ultimately just playing Caribbean stud instead.


With online and live dealer Caribbean stud poker games, you’ll find that the whole experience centers around using a limited amount of information to choose between a couple of options, which is pretty normal for how casino poker games go. From a strategic standpoint, it’s a really easy game to learn to play, and even the more advanced strategies aren’t very difficult.

The live dealer version of this title has more options than most with a progressive jackpot option and an innovative side bet that pays out often, so you can add on even more action, but you also have the choice to just sit back and enjoy the regular gameplay while socializing with new friends you meet online.


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