While Caribbean Stud has a fairly high house edge in comparison to many other table games, it remains quite popular among casino patrons. This is due in large part to the progressive jackpot side bet that’s available to players at most live and online casinos – a bet that often offers $100,000 or more if a player hits a royal flush.
But, of course, in order to play the side bet, you’ll need to make a normal wager on each hand as well. And while many players choose to play their Caribbean Stud hands thoughtlessly, a little strategy can go a long way towards minimizing the casino’s advantage.
There’s really only one point during each Caribbean Stud hand when players have the opportunity to employ strategy. This comes when the player chooses whether to fold, ending the hand immediately, or make a raise, thus continuing on with the hand. To begin with, there are two key rules that should always be followed when playing Caribbean Stud. They’re both very simple, and alone, remove most of the house edge:
- If you have a pair or better, you should always raise.
- If you have less than ace-king high (meaning both an ace and a king appear in your hand), you should always fold.
Almost any strategy that follows these two simple rules is enough to keep you from getting into any serious trouble. However, if you’d like to improve your results, there are a couple of practical tips you can employ in order to cut the casino’s edge even further.
All of the difficult choices come when you have a hand of exactly ace-king high. In these cases, if your cards are generally higher than the card that the dealer is showing, that’s usually a sign that you should choose to raise, rather than fold. In addition, if you match the dealer’s up card, it makes it somewhat less likely that the dealer will make a pair, again suggesting you should raise. Conversely, if the dealer is showing a king or an ace, that should dissuade you from raising somewhat, as it increases the chances of the dealer making a qualifying hand.
In theory, a perfect strategy in Caribbean Stud Poker would lead to a house edge of approximately 5.224%. However, the optimal strategy is extraordinarily complicated, with few clear patterns that would allow you to easily memorize how to play in every conceivable situation.
Luckily, there are a number of simplified strategies that come very close to replicating the correct way to play your ace-king high hands. Perhaps the easiest one to remember is simply to raise whenever you have a hand of ace-king-jack-eight-three or better, disregarding the dealer’s up card entirely. This strategy results in a house edge of just over 5.31% – less than 0.1% higher than optimal play.
If you are ready to start playing Caribbean Stud poker, why not check out our online Caribbean Stud pages for more information.