Caribbean Stud Poker Strategy

Although Caribbean Stud Poker is named after poker, it has a very different strategy to regular poker games, such as 7-card Stud or Hold ‘Em poker. The optimal strategy for Caribbean Stud is very complicated. In fact, there is no consensus among dealers, casino executives or pit bosses as to what the optimal strategy is.

To go even further, there are those who say that the optimal strategy for Caribbean stud is not to play the game at all and that Caribbean Stud is an unbeatable game over the long term, regardless of strategy used.
If however, a player chooses to play this game, then there are a few generalizations that can be made and a number of guidelines that can be followed in order to increase your odds.
There are times when it is obvious to hold and raise, such as if you hold a flush or a full house. On the other end of the spectrum, when to fold can also be a simple decision, such as when you hold no pair and no high card. It is the marginal hands that cause the difficult decisions.

As a rule, a player should always raise with a pair or higher. Also, you should always fold if you are dealt a hand that is lower than the dealer’s qualifying hand (which is always Ace and King high – the lowest combination possible). Bluffing is not advisable in Caribbean Stud Poker.
If the dealer holds an Ace and King, it is more tricky to know what to do. Ideally, raise on an Ace and King if these three rules apply:

  • The dealer’s card is a 2 through to Queen and matches a card that you have in your hand.
  • The dealer’s card is an Ace or King and you are holding a Queen or a Jack.
  • The dealer’s rank does not match yours and you hold a Queen and the dealer’s card is less than your fourth highest card.

If your cards contain at least a pair, you should always bet and play. Pairs tend to win approximately 50-58% of the time, regardless of how low they are. Many people make the mistake of not betting on low pairs. Even if the odds are not as good as winning on higher pairs, folding the hand and losing your ante each time you have a low pair, will lose you more money in the long run.

If you want to bet on the progressive jackpot, you must make sure to put the side bet in. It is a difficult bet to win and lots of money can be lost by placing this bet, as you need a very high hand to get a payoff. Also, without the high hand, you will lose your side bet, regardless of whether or not you won the actual hand by beating the dealer. However, if you want to win big, this is a way to do it.

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