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How to Play Caribbean Stud Poker

Last updated on March 4, 2018

A favorite on cruise ships and beachfront casinos, Caribbean Stud Poker (also called Spice Island Poker) is an easy game to learn and fun to play online.

Game Play

Introduction: Caribbean Stud Poker (also called Spice Island Poker) is a variation of the classic five card poker game, but it’s played on a blackjack-sized table and you play against the dealer, not other players. Caribbean Stud, depending on the rule variations and payouts, generally has a house edge of about 5.2% and can be played effectively by using a simple three-step strategy.

The Ante: Before every hand, each player must ante (usually minimum $5) to be dealt in that round.

The Deal: Once all players have anted, the dealer will deal each player five cards face down, and will deal himself four cards down and one card face up, for the whole table to see. The cards that you have in your hand after the initial deal are yours for the whole round — you don’t get to draw. That’s why it’s called Caribbean STUD!

Betting: The goal in Caribbean Stud is to beat the dealer’s hand. If you think your hand can beat what the dealer has, you bet or raiseby placing exactly twice your ante on the table. For example, if your ante was $5, you would bet $10, and you would then have a total of $15 on the table.

Folding: If you’re not so confident about your hand, it’s best to fold. The dealer then takes your cards and your ante.

Winning: Once all bets are placed, the dealer will reveal his cards. Don’t get excited yet — the dealer’s hand must then qualify before any winnings are paid. To qualify, the dealer must have at least an Ace and King combo or better poker hand.

If the dealer does not qualify, meaning he does not have any poker hand, the dealer will pay every ante even money and push on every bet. Even if you had a royal flush in your hand, you win nothing on your raise if the dealer does not qualify.

If the dealer does qualify, meaning he has at least an Ace and a King, or any higher poker hand, then the fun begins. The dealer will compare his hand to each player’s hand. If you beat the dealer, you win! The ante pays even money, and your raise will pay according to this table:


If the dealer’s hand beats yours, you lose both your bet and your ante. Better luck next hand!


Caribbean Stud Poker Strategy

There is a general strategy that most good players follow to maximize their winnings and minimize the house edge. It’s simple to learn, and easy to remember:


1. Raise on a pair or better
2. Fold if you have less than an Ace & King
3. If you have an Ace & King:

A. Raise if the dealer is showing a 2 through Queen, and it matches one of your cards.
B. Raise if the dealer is showing an Ace or King, and you have a Queen or Jack in your hand
C. Otherwise fold.

Progressive Jackpot Side Bet

In most casinos you have the option of a $1 side bet for the progressive jackpot that’s paid out to the next player to be dealt a Royal Flush. Some progressive jackpots can get to hundreds of thousands of dollars! Usually, the casino will also pay 10% of the jackpot to players dealt a Straight Flush. You lose the side bet every time you don’t get one of these hands.

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