Caribbean Stud Poker Basics – Your Ultimate Primer

Caribbean Stud Poker is not as popular as it once was, but it does have a cult-like following. Based on a classic form of poker, Five-Card Stud, Caribbean Stud borrows the most basic concepts from the original. It is a fast-paced game played against the house, rather than the other players. Even though it was one of the first casino “novelty” table games, it has lasted in casinos. So, let’s revisit Caribbean Stud Poker Basics.

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A Brief History of Caribbean Stud Poker says “According to popular Caribbean Stud history, it is believed the game originated in Aruba, an island in the Caribbean some time in the 1980s. Some stories state the game was officially discovered after it was found being played on a cruise ship that was sailing to Aruba. Unusually, for such a recently developed game, the person who created the game is yet to be found though several individuals have made claims they invented it. The most famous of these is renowned author and gambling expert David Sklansky.”

Before you play Caribbean Stud Poker, know the official poker hand rankings. Once you understand that, the game is very straight forward.

  • Royal Flush – A,K,Q,J, and 10 all of the same suit
  • Straight Flush – Five cards in sequence and all of the same suit
  • Four of a Kind – Four cards of the same rank
  • Full House – Three of a kind, plus a pair
  • Flush – Five cards of the same suit
  • Straight – Five cards in sequence. (Ace can be high or low)
  • Three of a Kind – Three cards of the same rank
  • Two Pair – Two cards of one rank and two cards of another rank
  • Jacks or Better – A pair of jacks, queens, kings or aces

Caribbean Stud Poker Basics – Playing the Game

caribbean stud poker table
Caribbean stud poker table (image courtesy of

Step One – Ante

Like any form of Stud poker, you begin the game by placing an Ante. The size of your ante is up to you, but must be within the table’s designated minimum and maximum bet amounts.

Step Two – Look at Your Cards

After all players have ante’d the dealer deals each players five cards. The players cards are all dealt face down, while the dealer turns one of his five cards face up. Players are not allowed to talk about, or show their hand to any other players on or off the table.

Step Three – Bet or Fold

After looking at your hand, you are required to either bet or fold. If you fold, you forfeit your ante and wait for the next hand. If you bet, your bet must be exactly equal to twice the amount of your ante.

Step Four – Dealer

Once all players have chosen to fold or bet, the dealer turns up his remaining four cards. If the dealer does not have a hand equal to or better than Ace-King high (meaning they have both an ace and a king in their hand), all players are paid 1:1 on their ante, and are returned their bet. If the dealer’s hand is equal to Ace-King high or better, then the dealers hand is said to “qualify”.

The dealer then compares your hand to their own. If your hand is worse than the dealer’s qualifying hand, you lose your ante and bet. If you hand is better than the dealer’s qualifying hand, you receive even money (1:1) on your ante, and payment on your bet in accordance to the pay scale.

Caribbean Stud Poker Basics – The Progressive Jackpot

Caribbean Stud Poker
Logo found on Caribbean Stud Poker table

Players can also bet the progressive jackpot side bet. An additional $1 during the ante stage of play is required. Players are then eligible to win a piece of, or all, of the progressive jackpot.

To win a piece of the jackpot a player must have a premium hand (flush or better), and it must beat the dealer’s qualifying hand. The player receives a percentage of the progressive jackpot after these conditions are met.

Basic Strategy – Not too difficult

If the dealer’s one show card is either an Ace or a King, you should only bet if you can beat an Ace King.  In general you should bet anytime you have ace-king or better.  It’s a guessing game whether or not the dealer will qualify, thus it’s often not worth risking three times the amount of your ante to potentially make back only 1:4 on your money.

When I played, it did seem to be a team game – everyone trying to beat the house without the worry of making mistakes that supposedly “hurt” the other players. Mathematically, we know this is not true. But, try it with some friends.  Bring a playing strategy on a card like the one below. Most casinos don’t mind if you do because they know that game gives them a huge house advantage of over 5% with perfect strategy.

Caribbean Stud poker
courtesy of

Related Post – The 5 Best Caribbean Stud Poker Tips

That’s all for now.