Caribbean Stud Poker is the most popular of the poker based card games at online casinos. Every software provider includes the game in its portfolio. This article briefly explains the game play and then the optimum strategy for wagering on Caribbean Stud Poker.
The game begins with the player placing the ante bet. Then five cards are dealt face up to the player. Five cards are also dealt to the dealer, but only one of these is face up. The player has the option of folding. If he does so then he forfeits the ante wager and the game is over.
Alternatively the player can raise. A bet equal to the ante bet has to be placed by the player in that event. The dealer’s remaining four cards are turned over, the hands compared and payouts made. The hand comparison is made according to the normal poker hand rankings. If the dealer does not have an ace-king or higher hand, he does not qualify. In that event the ante bet is paid even money and the raise bet pushes. If the dealer qualifies and holds the higher ranked hand then both bets lose. If the dealer qualifies and holds the lower ranked hand then the ante bet is paid even money and the raise bet is paid according to a payout table, which is based on poker hand rankings. If the dealer qualifies and the hands are of equal ranking then both bets push.
The decision of folding or raising should neither be made randomly nor intuitively. It has to be made in accordance with optimum online Caribbean Stud Poker strategy if the player wants to maximize his return in the long run. The average return to the player with optimum strategy is about 97.5%. Expert players would want to understand the mathematics on which the optimum strategy is based but novice players should simply memorize it for starters. The player should raise if he holds a pair, two pairs, three of a kind, four of a kind, straight, flush, full house, straight flush and royal flush. The player should fold when he holds ace-queen or less because this is even lower than the dealer’s qualifying hand.
The slightly complicated decision is when the player holds ace-king or higher. Here the player’s third highest card and the dealer’s face up card come into play. If the third highest card is a jack or a queen then the player should always raise. If the third highest card is less than a jack then the player should raise only when the dealer’s face up card matches with any of the player’s cards. The reasoning behind this strategy is that the chance of the dealer drawing a pair is reduced because one of the three cards that can result in the pair is with the player.
Online Caribbean Stud Poker has an optional side bet of $1. Players need not place this bet, but if they do then the denomination is always $1. This bet pays out according to another payout table that starts with flush. Usually there is a progressive jackpot attached to the top two payouts. 10% of the jackpot amount is paid for a straight flush and 100% of the jackpot is paid out for a royal flush. Players are advised to avoid this bet.