Caribbean Stud Poker

About Caribbean Stud Poker

Caribbean Stud Poker (Cyberstud Poker) is a table poker game variation. The game is a bit similar to 3-Card Poker but with five cards hands and also to Let It Ride. All major casino softwares offer this game. The game has relatively high house edge as well as high variance.

Caribbean Stud Poker Rules

After placing Ante bet, the player and dealer are both dealt 5-card poker hands. Player’s 5-card hand and the first card of dealer’s hand are visible. The player then either folds the hand and loses the Ante bet or raises by placing a Raise bet which equals 2 x Ante bet. After player raises, dealer’s hand is revealed and player is paid according to following rules:

  • If dealer’s five card hand is at least Ace/King high or better (with usual poker hand rankings) then dealer qualifies. If dealer doesn’t qualify, then the raise bet is returned and Ante bet wins with 1:1 payout.
  • If dealer qualifies and has a better hand than the player, the player loses his whole bet (Ante + Raise).
  • If dealer qualifies and the player wins the hand, then Ante bet pays 1:1 and the Raise bet pays according to following paytable. The paytable varies with casino software used.

Caribbean Stud Poker also has an optional bonus bet.

Optimal Strategy

The true optimal strategy for Caribbean Stud Poker is complex. However a simplified strategy gives a very small difference from the optimal strategy. Always raise with any pair or better and always fold with Ace/Queen high or worse. The strategy with Ace/King high is more complicated. If you raise with Ace/King/Jack/8/3 high or better (first compare the highest card, then second highest card etc.) you will get a house edge of 0.1% from the optimal. If you wish to further optimize the strategy from this, you can follow these guidelines:

Raise with A-K-X-X-X if any of the following situations apply:

  1. Dealer´s card is a 2-Q and matches one of yours.
  2. Dealer´s card is A or K and you have a Q or J in your hand.
  3. Dealer’s card does not match any of yours and you have a Q in your hand and the dealer’s card is less than your 4th highest card.

Notice that the slight strategy changes only involve hands with Ace/King high.

If it is possible to play Caribbean Stud Poker in multi-player table (live or on-line) then the opportunity to peek other players’ cards can affect strategy decisions and reduce the house edge a little bit. However the optimal strategy in this situation becomes very complicated and the casinos usually forbid exchanging information between players.

House Edge and Rule Variations

The house edges for different paytables are listed in the table above. The standard paytable has 2.56% house edge, Microgaming paytable has 2.46% house edge and Wagerworks paytable has 2.36% house edge.

Variance and Results Over Bonus Wagering Requirement

The paytable used in Caribbean Stud Poker also affects the variance of the game. With the standard and Wagerworks paytable the standard deviation per unit wagered is 1.57 and with Microgaming paytable this value is much higher, 2.75. So the variance with Microgaming paytable is much higher.

One possible strategy when playing Caribbean Stud Poker with a bonus is to use a larger bet size and if you get a decent win, you could switch to smaller bet size and complete the wagering requirement. This slightly increases the expected return but also increases the risk of busting (losing deposit + bonus) before completing the playthrough.

The following table shows Chance of Gain, Risk of Busting and the Bonus EV for different wagering requirements and Ante bet sizes when completing the wagering requirement on Caribbean Stud Poker using the standard paytable. See the return and variance calculator for other bet sizes and WRs.