How to Play Caribbean Stud Poker – Rules and Odds

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For players looking to learn how to play Caribbean Stud Poker, the most important point to understand is that it’s a casino table game.

This Caribbean Stud Poker tutorial will walk you through everything you need to know, from the hierarchy of poker hands to a step-by-step guide to how to play Caribbean Stud Poker.

A Caribbean Stud Poker table at an online casino.

What is Caribbean Stud Poker?

Being a casino poker game, unlike many other forms of poker, you’re not looking to beat the other players at the table, so there’s no need to worry about maintaining a poker face. Instead, you must simply beat the dealer. Likewise, you won’t be able to control the size of the pot by varying the sizes of your bets; as a table game, the Caribbean Stud Poker payouts are fixed in relation to the size of your wager. No slow-playing, traps or fancy plays are needed to win here.

Caribbean Stud Poker was created in the 1980s to bring the thrills of poker to a fast, casino table game that could sit alongside the likes of blackjack and baccarat, with comparable payout odds and a similar pace of play. It uses poker hands, but you don’t need to be an expert in poker strategy to play it, enjoy it and win. With a little knowledge of poker hands and a few Caribbean Stud Poker tips, you’ll have everything you need to beat the dealer.

How to Play Caribbean Stud Poker

Let’s take a closer look at Caribbean Stud Poker rules by walking through a hand from start to finish.

  1. To begin a hand, a player places a wager in the ‘ante’ area. Many casinos will also offer the chance to place an additional, optional ‘jackpot’ wager as well.
  2. The dealer, and each player, receive five cards. The player’s cards are face-up, while the dealer only reveals one of their cards.
  3. At this stage the player can fold, surrendering the hand, if they feel they do not have a good chance of winning. Otherwise, they must place a ‘raise’ or ‘call’ bet of double their ante.
  4. If the player continues, all cards are revealed. If the dealer does not have at least Ace-King or better, they do not ‘qualify’. If this happens, ante bets are paid out at even money (1 to 1) and raise/call bets are returned.
  5. If the dealer does qualify, and has a better hand than the player, all player bets are lost.
  6. If the dealer qualifies and is beaten by the player, ante bets are paid out at even money and raise/call bets are paid according to the strength of the hand (see the ‘Caribbean Stud Poker Payouts & Odds’ section below for details).
  7. If the dealer qualifies and has the exact same hand as the player, all bets are returned.

If a player has made a jackpot bet, they will be eligible for additional payouts if they make a particularly strong hand, such as a Flush or higher. Payouts will depend on the strength of their hand and the size of the progressive jackpot when they hit it.

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Caribbean Stud Poker Hands

You’ve seen how a round of Caribbean Stud Poker plays out, but what is a good poker hand and what is a bad one? This is important knowledge to have, both so you know when you are likely to be stronger than the dealer, and so you know when you have hit a good hand for a higher payout. Whatever game you’re playing, and whether at a land-based casino or one of the best online poker sites, this information is essential for a winning Caribbean Stud Poker strategy. We recommend you bookmark this page until you have the following committed to memory.

This is the hierarchy of poker hands, from best to worst. A hand from higher up the list will always defeat a hand beneath it.

Poker Hand Example
Royal Flush Ts-Js-Qs-Ks-As
Straight Flush 8d-9d-Td-Jd-Qd
Four-of-a-Kind A-A-A-A-X*
Full House 4-4-4-J-J
Flush 3c-5c-8c-Jc-Kc
Straight 4-5-6-7-8
Three-of-a-Kind Q-Q-Q-X-X
Two Pair 6-6-7-7-X
One Pair T-T-X-X-X
High Card A-K-5-3-2

*X = any unrelated card

Looking for more? We have plenty of poker cheat sheets to help you out, whatever game you’re playing.

Caribbean Stud Poker Payouts & Odds

When learning how to play Caribbean Stud Poker, it’s important to have one eye on the payouts table as that is where your biggest wins will come from. Ante bets will only ever pay out at even money, or 1 to 1, but how much can you win from your raise/call bets?

Different online casinos may offer slightly different payouts for making strong hands, but the following is a good benchmark of the Caribbean Stud Poker odds you can expect to get for winning raise/bet wagers.

Poker Hand Caribbean Stud Poker Payouts
Royal Flush 100 to 1
Straight Flush 50 to 1
Four-of-a-Kind 20 to 1
Full House 7 to 1
Flush 5 to 1
Straight 4 to 1
Three-of-a-Kind 3 to 1
Two Pair 2 to 1
One Pair or less 1 to 1

So now you know the payouts you can expect to see, what are the Caribbean Stud Poker odds of actually making these hands?

The following Caribbean Stud Poker guide provides the mathematical probabilities of making each poker hand when dealt five random cards.

Poker Hand Probability Odds Against
Royal Flush 0.0001% 649,739 to 1
Straight Flush 0.001% 72,192 to 1
Four-of-a-Kind 0.02% 4,165 to 1
Full House 0.1% 693 to 1
Flush 0.2% 509 to 1
Straight 0.4% 254 to 1
Three-of-a-Kind 2.1% 46 to 1
Two Pair 4.7% 20 to 1
One Pair 42.2% 1.3 to 1
High Card 50.1% 0.99 to 1

When developing your own Caribbean Stud Poker strategy, another useful statistic to know is that the dealer will qualify around 56% of the time.

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How to play Caribbean Stud Poker online

Caribbean Stud Poker is often available in both multiplayer and single-player formats, as well as in live dealer and software-only versions. To get started, we recommend using a site with single-player, software-only tables, to enable you to play at your own pace without feeling the pressure to act quickly.

1. Find a place to play

Follow our expert recommendations to find a safe and fun option.

2. Hit the button to sign up

This might say ‘Join’ or ‘Register’. You may be prompted to download casino software, or you may be able to play in your browser.

EveryGame poker signup page.

3. Create your account

Here’s where you choose your User ID and make your first deposit. Don’t forget to make use of any Welcome Bonuses available.

Everygame new account registration.

4. Find a table

Caribbean Stud games will be found in the Table Games section of an online casino, and if the casino has a Live Dealer section you’ll often find it available there too.

A live caribbean stud poker table from evolution gaming.

5. Enjoy the game

Place your ante wager and hit ‘Deal’ to play your first hand.

Tips and Caribbean Stud strategy

With a lot of options at your disposal, learning how to play poker can be complex, but your options in a game of Caribbean Stud Poker are limited to whether or not to fold or make the call/raise bet. While every hand is different, there are some basic guidelines you can apply to help you make this decision each time you play.

  • If you have a pair or better, make the raise/call bet.
  • If you have worse than Ace-King, fold.

When you have Ace-King and no pairs, things can become a little more complicated and will often depend on the rank of the dealer’s up-card.

  • If the up-card is in the 2-Q range, make the bet if it matches one of your own cards, or if it’s worse than your fourth-highest card.
  • If the up-card is an Ace or King, make the bet if you also hold a Queen or Jack.

No Caribbean Stud Poker guide is going to give you a bulletproof system for winning, and don’t forget that as a casino table game there is always going to be a house edge at work. But if you use the guidelines above as a basis for developing your own Caribbean Stud strategy you’ll be starting from a great position.

How to play Caribbean Stud Poker at a casino

Playing Caribbean Stud Poker at a casino is as simple as playing any other casino table game.

Firstly, keep an eye on the table limits, which will be clearly marked and visible somewhere by the dealer. It’s important to play within your means, so make sure you’re at a table where the stakes are comfortable and the minimum bet isn’t going to wipe out your bankroll in short order if you hit a bad run of cards.

If there is a seat free, take it and signal to the dealer you are ready to play. Place the cash you wish to convert to chips on the table and ask the dealer to change it for you. Once you have your chips, place the wager in the betting circle and play your first hand. When you win a hand, wait for the dealer to place your winnings next to your original bets before reaching for your chips.

Whenever you’re ready to leave, let the dealer know and take your chips with you to the Cashier to exchange them for cash. If you need any guidance or tips on how to play Caribbean Stud Poker, be sure to ask your dealer.

How to Deal Caribbean Stud Poker

If you’re playing at home, whether for small change or just for fun, first make sure you have agreed on any payouts – we recommend using the payouts listed above in the ‘Caribbean Stud Poker Payouts and Odds’ section. Make these visible to all players so people know what to expect if they hit a big hand.

You’ll also need to make sure you have enough money to cover any big wins. If someone makes a Royal Flush for a payout of 100 to 1, will you have enough money to pay them and keep playing afterwards? While it’s true that the casino – or the dealer, in the case of playing at home – has a statistical edge, it’s always possible for a player to hit a huge hand. That’s why we play, after all.

Once you’ve established the above, simply deal a hand the way it would be dealt at a casino, online or land-based. Each player receives five cards, and the dealer receives five but only exposes one until the players have all made their decisions on whether or not to fold.

Caribbean Stud Variations

Caribbean Stud Poker is one of the most widely spread casino poker games and is available in a wide range of land-based and offshore poker casinos across the world. However, variations and twists on the formula can also be found. Here are a few variants to keep an eye out for.

Casino Hold’em

In this twist player and dealer each receive two hole cards, with a three-card ‘flop’ then dealt which all players share – dealer included. Players then decide whether to make the ‘call’ bet or fold. If they continue, a further two communal board cards are dealt. The dealer needs a pair of fours or better to qualify.

Heads Up Hold’em/Ultimate Texas Hold’em

Players and dealer receive two hole cards each. Players can then check or make a ‘play’ bet of three times the ante (or four times the ante in Ultimate Texas Hold’em). A three-card communal flop then follows, after which any players who checked can make a play bet of two times the ante, or check once again. A final two communal board cards are dealt, after which any players who checked must make a play bet equal to the ante bet, or fold. The dealer needs a pair to qualify.

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Adam Hampton
Poker Expert
Adam Hampton
Poker Expert

Adam has been writing about poker and gaming for more than a decade, and playing for much longer than that. Based in London, UK, his work for brands such as PokerStars, Full Tilt Poker, CardsChat, CardPlayer Lifestyle and more has taken him across the world, but his favorite spot is always 'on the button'.