How to Play Caribbean Stud Poker

Hand of Caribbean Poker plus poker chips on a table.

Never tried playing Caribbean Stud Poker online before? Not to worry, our quick and easy guide to the rules will have you up and running in no time.

One thing you’ll start to notice as you make your way through the different poker variants is that, with the exception of Texas Hold’em, most game types are easy to learn. In fact, it can sometimes feel difficult to separate one ruleset from another, as in the case of 3 Card Poker and 3 Card Brag.

For most players, this is a good thing, as it means that you’ll still be able to find something to play even if your preferred variant isn’t available. 

Caribbean Stud Poker falls into this camp, too, as a modified version of 5 Card Stud. What is stud poker? In most poker variants, the cards you are given are dealt face-down, with the exception of a shared set of Community cards, which are laid face-up. However, when playing stud games, the cards are dealt in a mix of face-up and face-down positions. We’ll cover all this a little bit later on in this guide. 

For now, all you need to know is that Caribbean Stud Poker is a mainly online version of poker that’s played in a player versus croupier format.

Impatient players rejoice, it’s possible to learn Caribbean Stud Poker in just a few minutes. The game lacks many of the complexities associated with much more complicated versions of poker like Texas Hold’em, such as bluffing, reams of jargon, and a lengthy play cycle that can last for hours.

Game Rules for Caribbean Poker

You will never play against other players in Caribbean Stud Poker. Although, in offline games, other people may also join you at the table to play separately against the dealer. This absence of player vs. player action – or PVP for the video gamers out there – means that Caribbean Stud Poker is not considered a ‘true’ poker game by purists. 

All players at the Caribbean Stud Poker table go through the same process when playing. Note that, unlike Hold’em styles of poker, there are no Community cards at all. The cards you’re dealt at the outset are your only hope of beating the dealer. 

Here is our six-step guide to playing a hand of Caribbean Stud Poker:

  1. An entry or Ante bet is placed.
  2. The player(s) and dealer are dealt five cards, face down. 
  3. The dealer must then turn their last-dealt card face-up. 
  4. All player cards at the table are turned face-up. 
  5. The players must choose whether to Raise/Call (bet) or Fold (give up).
  6. The dealer reveals the rest of their hand.

We’ll discuss betting in a dedicated section, below. 

If you’ve ever played any version of poker before, you’ll have noticed that Caribbean Stud is a very condensed version of the full game. You can still make use of terminology like Streets, describing each separate gameplay stage, but the named streets from Texas Hold’em, for example, aren’t relevant to the game. So, there’s no Flop, River, or Turn

Hand of cards playing Caribbean Stud Poker online at Casino.com.

Fast and Open Casino Poker

This isn’t hugely important as far as playing the game is concerned but it does demonstrate the overall objective of Caribbean Stud Poker, chiefly, making things happen faster. It’s also a very ‘open’ type of poker, as all cards are visible almost from the moment they are dealt. In Hold’em games, this would make gameplay impossible. In fact, showing your cards to other people is a great way to get yourself thrown out of a real casino. 

Hold’em games also have three betting rounds, whereas Caribbean Stud has just one betting round, excluding the initial Ante bet. You must place a Bet (2x the Ante) or Fold after the deal in Caribbean Poker. This eliminates one of the more strategic elements of poker – checking. Checking falls somewhere between betting and folding, i.e. you don’t do anything but you don’t give up, either.

The concept of Qualification is important to Caribbean Stud games, too. If the croupier cannot produce a hand with at least an ace and a king, they do not qualify and, therefore, cannot continue the game. This rule does not apply to players, who must make their own decision regarding whether to bet or not. 

There is almost no thinking required at all in Caribbean Stud Poker, other than knowing when to Raise or Fold. Your chances of winning and losing are determined by the luck of the deal. Just like every other casino game, you will also be at a permanent disadvantage when playing, courtesy of the house edge. Unfortunately, the house edge in Caribbean Poker is among the highest of all poker variants, at more than 5%. In comparison, 3 Card Poker has a house edge of around 3.37%.

Types of Bets

In a standard game, you will make a total of two bets. Namely, the Ante bet and the Raise bet. It’s possible to win on both of these wagers or just one. You may also encounter what’s known as a side bet, which is usually a prediction on whether something, in particular, will happen during the game, such as a certain hand appearing. These can be standardised, casino-specific, or completely absent. 

There really is very little else to say about betting in Caribbean Poker, so let’s introduce one of the more common side bets – the 5+1 Bonus. Placed with the Ante, the 5+1 Bonus bet pays out (or not) depending on the strength of the five-card hand you can make from your own five cards plus the first dealer card that’s turned over. Inevitably, you can win the 5+1 Bonus wager even if you lose the overall game – but you must have a Three of a Kind or stronger. 

A quick tip, here: the Raise bet may also be known as the Play or Call bet. 

Stud Poker Card Values and Hand Rankings

As in Hold’em poker, the strength of the cards when it comes to forming a hand is determined by their suit, number, and what, if any, sequence you can create. From strongest to weakest, the cards in Caribbean Stud Poker are A, K, Q, J, 10, 9, 8, 7, 6, 5, 4, 3, and 2. Here are all the possible hands, again, from strongest to weakest.

  • Royal Flush: A, K, Q, J, 10, same suit.
  • Straight Flush: Five cards in sequence, same suit.
  • Four of a Kind: Four cards, same rank, any suit.
  • Full House: Three cards, same rank + two cards, same rank.
  • Flush: any five cards, same suit.
  • Straight: Five cards in sequence, any suit.
  • Three of a Kind: Three cards, same rank, any suit.
  • Two Pair: Two cards, same rank, any suit + two cards, same rank, any suit.
  • One Pair: Two cards, same rank, any suit.
  • High card: Anything else, identified by the highest value card, e.g. 9-high (ace-high).

Payouts and Odds

Caribbean Stud Poker is a fixed-odds game so just about everything can be quantified. This places it squarely in the same category as blackjack and roulette as far as odds and payouts are concerned. Let’s start by outlining all the possible outcomes in Caribbean Poker so that nothing unexpected happens. Once again, these may be familiar to veterans of other poker games.

Dealer Qualifies?Dealer HandPlayer HandOutcome
NoN/AN/AAnte bet pays out, Raise bet is returned
YesLosesWinsAnte bet pays out, Raise bet pays out
YesTieTieAll bets returned
YesWinsLosesAll bets lost

A quick tip, here. You may encounter the word Push when playing lots of different casino games. This is essentially a drawn game. All the players’ bets are usually returned in the event of a Push. Some poker variants, like pai gow, make a distinction between a Tie and a Push, where the dealer may actually win. This isn’t designed to trick you. These quirks of gameplay are usually available to read on the poker table itself. 

Now, to the payouts –

BetNamePayoutOdds
RaiseRoyal Flush100:11/649,351
 Straight Flush20:11/72,202
 Four of a Kind10:11/4,167
 Full House3:11/694
 Flush2:11/526
 Straight4:11/246
 Three of a Kind3:11/47
 Two Pair2:11/21
 One Pair1:11/2
5+1 BonusRoyal Flush1,000 to 11/649,351
 Straight Flush200 to 11/72,202
 Four of a Kind100 to 11/4,167
 Full House20 to 11/694
 Flush15 to 11/526
 Straight10 to 11/246
 Three of a Kind7 to 11/47

Side betting is sometimes associated with progressive jackpots in Caribbean Stud poker, whereby the strongest hands qualify to win a portion (usually around 10%) of a community prize pool. Pay tables and the number of opportunities to win can vary between individual casinos and poker software, however. 

In Summary

Caribbean Stud Poker might lack the intensity of ‘big’ poker variants like Texas Hold’em but its accessibility means that it’s no less popular than slots or blackjack. In general, Caribbean Poker operates on an either/or basis with other poker variants, which means that you might not find two, similar games in the same place at the same time. However, their shared ruleset means that their mutually exclusive nature doesn’t really matter. 

For beginners in the world of poker, any of the variants we’ve mentioned in this guide (other than Texas Hold’em) make for an ideal jumping-off point for the hobby. Be sure to read up on a few essential topics, like bankroll management, before joining any high-stakes games, though – and, as always, play responsibly.

Ross O’Connor has been working in the online gaming industry for almost a decade. Over that time he has written countless articles on related topics including casino and game reviews, gaming strategy and casino industry news, for a wide variety of online publications.

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