Caribbean Stud Poker Strategy

July 26, 2014

Last updated: Feb 28, 2007

Because Caribbean stud poker enjoys a 5.26% house advantage, the rule of thumb is that for each $100 a player bets, that player stands to lose $5, 26. There are no fool-proof ways to beat these odds, but there are ways to minimize them.

All poker players face the decision of whether to fold or raise their bets once the first cards are dealt. There are four possible options that a player can take.

  • Firstly, the player could fold and thereby lose the ante bet.
  • The second option is to raise and win the ante bet due to the fact that the dealer does not qualify.
  • The third option is to raise and win both the ante and the raise bet because the dealer qualified and player's hand beat the dealer's.
  • The final outcome is that the player loses both the ante and the raise bet due to the fact that the dealer qualified and beat the player's hand.

Sometimes the decision of what to do is cut-and-dry. If the player is dealt a flush, one must hope that the dealer qualifies so that the player can raise. If, on the other hand, the player is dealt a bad hand of no pairs and no single high cards (Aces or Kings), the decision to fold should be obvious.

A player should always raise with pairs, no matter what the dealer's up card is. Pairs are dealt about 42% of the time and of the 13 possible pair combinations, 7 have a +50% win rate. Only three pairs (2's, 3's, 4's) are expected to lose.

Every time a player folds a pair, the house advantage jumps to 7%. In short, raise on your pairs and when you have an Ace/King combination.

Links to Experts

Fred Renzey from recommends the following Caribbean Stud strategy:

  • Play any hand containing A-K-J-8-3.
  • Fold anything weaker.

More complicated version of optimal strategy is offered by Michael Shackleford. It's a table containing the all possible combinations of 'your other three cards' with one of 6 possible actions depending on the dealer's up card. Read Caribbean Stud: When to stand on ace/king.

J. Phillip Vogel describes the Basic Calling Strategy for Caribbean Stud Poker where Common Mistakes are listed:

  • Folding on all pairs under 5.
  • Calling on an A-K, but folding on a pair of 2s.
  • Playing Ace-Queen-x-x-x hands.
  • Betting all hands.