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Caribbean stud poker part B: Strategy 101

Pai Yao
Written by Pai Yao

This article first appeared in the May/Jun 2012 issue of World Gaming magazine.

In the Jan/Feb issue of World Gaming we presented part A of our series on caribbean stud poker, which covered some history of caribbean stud and an explanation of the rules and procedures of the game. If you missed part A, you can find it on our website wgm8.com. In part B we will explain some of the strategies to help you walk away a winner. We will also discuss the progressive jackpot side bet, as this is one of the game’s big draw cards.

The absolute perfect strategy for caribbean stud is very complicated, but you can get about 97 percent of the perfect strategy’s value by remembering two simple rules:

1. Always raise with a pair or higher.
2. Always fold hands worse than AK (ace king).

AK hands are tricky. Many people will tell you different ways to play AK, but this is the way we play it:

3. If the dealer shows an ace or king, raise only if you have AKQ or AKJ.
4. If the dealer shows a queen or lower, raise if:

  • you have a card of the same rank as the dealer’s upcard in your hand (this way you have a blocker, reducing the dealer’s chance to make a pair), or
  • you have AKQ and your next highest card (that is your fourth-highest card) is bigger than the dealer’s upcard.

If you add rules 3 and 4 to the first two rules, you get a whopping 99.99 percent of the mathematically optimal strategy. If you follow these four rules correctly it will give you a much higher chance of walking away a winner compared to players who don’t.

Progressive jackpot

Players also have the chance to make a small wager on the progressive jackpot. This allows players the chance to win the entire jackpot with a royal flush,10 percent of the jackpot with a straight flush, and fixed amounts for other good hands such as quads, a full house or a flush. As it is a progressive jackpot, the amount will continually increase until someone is lucky enough to win.

There is no real strategy for the jackpot, other than not playing it in casinos where the jackpot has gone off recently, as this is when it will be at its smallest with barely more than the seed money in there. If you are betting on a progressive jackpot that pays only on a flush or better, you have a 0.21 percent (1 in 480 hands) chance of winning anything on your progressive jackpot bet. If it pays on a straight or more, the odds move up to a 0.43 percent (1 in 234 hands) chance. Is it worth the investment? Well, suffice it to say, you have to be in it to win it. Demonstrating commitment to research, World Gaming’s very own The Eagle showed it could be done, and recently was lucky enough to win 10 percent of the jackpot at the Rio in Macau with a straight flush. You can read about this feat on our website, just type “Eagle soars” (with the quotes) in the search box on the wgm8.com homepage. I know when I play I always have a side bet on the jackpot. I find it just too tempting to resist. If you are lucky enough to hit the jackpot, the money can be truly life changing.

Name of the game

A recent trend is for casinos to drop the name “caribbean” from this game. Instead they usually use the name “stud” in conjunction with some other word like the name of the casino or the city it is located in. All these “stud” games are essentially the same, and can be considered to be caribbean stud poker.

Where to play

The recent surge in popularity of caribbean stud poker means it is widely available in Macau. You will find it at most if not all of the big casinos and even some of the smaller ones.

In the Philippines we generally play at Resorts World Manila, in Singapore caribbean stud (or an alternatively named version of it) is available at both Marina Bay Sands and Resorts World Sentosa, while in Australia the game is widely available at Crown casino and the other big casinos. Our Sep/Oct 2011 issue gives you a guide to Australia’s casinos, and is available online at wgm8.com, just type “southern frontier” (with the quotes) in the search box on the wgm8.com homepage.

Resorts World Manila Marina Bay Sands Resorts World Sentosa Crown casino




Biggest jackpots

Lately the Caribbean stud jackpots have been getting larger. Gone are the days of a HK$2 million jackpot being considered enormous. Grand Lisboa had a HK$7.5 million jackpot go off last year and it’s no longer unusual to see the jackpot sitting over HK$5 million in the bigger casinos.

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