5 Amazing Secrets About Caribbean Stud Poker No One Tells You About

Group of Friends Surrounding Laptop Playing Online Game, Background Image of Caribbean Stud Poker Game
Caribbean Stud Poker has experienced booms and busts akin to every gambler’s personal experience.

After debuting in the late 1980s, casino operators and players alike flocked to the new table game, the first to shake up the old guard of blackjack, baccarat, craps, and roulette. Five-card stud poker game play taking on the house instead of fellow players, an easy to learn structure, strategic elements, and bonus payouts – the game was always destined to be a fan favorite.

Unfortunately, the rise of Caribbean Stud Poker prompted game designers to try their hand at creating the next big thing.

While the Caribbean Stud Poker tables became increasingly common sights on casino floors from coast to coast in the 1990s, rivals like Mississippi Stud Poker, Let It Ride, and Three Card Poker emerged. Eventually, players moved on from the original hybrid table game and found the “new wave” of alternatives were more to their liking.

From having hundreds of placements in Las Vegas alone in the ‘90s, Caribbean Stud Poker slowly died off, so much so that only two venues in Sin City (Venetian and Palazzo) still offer the game today.

Fortunately for fans of the game like myself – and you if you’re reading this – online casinos have sparked a revival for Caribbean Stud Poker. Every major online casino platform spreads their own version of the game, usually under a slightly different title to avoid copyright infringement, so a real rebirth has occurred over the last few years.

If you’ve recently discovered online Caribbean Stud Poker, or simply want to learn a little more about an old favorite, I hope you’ll enjoy the five amazing secrets nobody tells you about the game listed here.

 1 – A Three-Time WSOP Champion Claims He Invented Caribbean Stud Poker

If you’re like most poker players, you probably have a dog-eared copy of Doyle Brunson’s Super / System: A Course in Power Poker (1978) on your bookshelf.

But old “Texas Dolly” – a 10-time World Series of Poker (WSOP) gold bracelet champion – didn’t write the epic tome all by himself, he enlisted fellow top pros of the era like David Sklansky to contribute chapters on their best games. Sklansky tackled the beast known as seven-card stud high-low split, one of the more complex poker variants of them all.

And for good reason…David Sklansky at a Poker Table with Casino Chips Stacked in Front of Him

Sklansky was, and still is, a mathematics experts and statistical theorist who mastered the ins and outs of poker in all its various forms.

Sklansky brought home three gold bracelets himself, winning his trio at the 1982 and 1983 editions of the WSOP. He followed that success up by becoming an author of his own, publishing “Hold’em Poker (1984)” and The “Theory of Poker (1999)” some 15 years apart.

Back in 1982, however, Sklansky says he had his mind on another card game, one he invented in fact – “Casino Poker.”

To play Casino Poker as devised by Sklansky, players put up a forced Ante bet to draw five cards randomly from the deck. The house dealer also drew five cards, leaving two of them face up for the table to see. Based on this partial information – their own five-card hand and the dealer’s two up cards – Casino Poker players then proceeded to either a) fold or b) place a second “Play” wager worth double the Ante bet.

Whoever made the better five-card poker hand at showdown was the winner, and if the dealer held A-K high or better for a “qualifying hand,” players with strong hands would receive additional bonus payouts up to 100 to 1 for a Royal Flush.

No, I’m not confusing Casino Poker with Caribbean Stud Poker… Sklansky claims he invented the former before another gambler co-opted it to create the latter.

Taking to his popular Two Plus Two online poker forum in 2007, Sklansky declared himself the true brains behind the operation in a post titled “I Invented Caribbean Stud”:

“In 1982 I invented the game that became Caribbean Stud. I called it Casino Poker. Except for the fact that I exposed one card rather than two, and had no progressive jackpot betting option, the rules were the same. Ante one, bet two more, dealer qualifies with AK. Plus there were bonus pays for high hands. I was told I couldn’t patent the game but I trademarked the name and put it on trial at Vegas World. I didn’t follow through because my girlfriend died during that time and I wasn’t up to it. A few years later a poker player asked me about the game because he knew a casino owner in Aruba. He brought the rules down there, they added the progressive, exposed only one card and got it patented. There is ongoing controversy about that patent and I was asked to give a deposition about it a few years ago.”

Sklansky’s reputation in the gambling industry is unparalleled, so there’s no reason whatsoever to doubt his story.

And sure enough, plenty of poker pros have stumbled into great ideas over the years, before ultimately failing to protect them properly through the patent process.

For my money, I’d bet my bottom dollar Sklansky did indeed invent Caribbean Stud Poker, only to see his lack of patent protection put the rights into another player’s pockets.

2 – Caribbean Stud Poker Provided the Template for Three Card Poker

The year was 1994 and Caribbean Stud Poker was all the rage.

Derek Webb was a casino gambler and aspiring game inventor at the time, so he started tinkering with existing hybrid table games to see if he might come up with the next gambling sensation.

And boy did he ever…

As Webb recounted to Global Gaming Business magazine a few years back, Caribbean Stud Poker formed the foundation for his new invention Three Card Poker:

“I wanted to design a three-unit bet game that incorporated what I thought was the best of Caribbean Stud and the best of Let It Ride, and it was going to be naturally faster than Caribbean or Let It Ride. But also, the design needed to make sure that we got the three bet units out more frequently than Caribbean or Let It Ride. And those two combined features meant that it could go with a lower house advantage than either of those games, and give the player a more positive experience, and at the same time, create a higher win for the operator. So, in effect, you’re serving both sides of the table better than what was already out there.”

As luck would have it – bad luck for Caribbean Stud Poker fans – Webb’s new game wound up crushing all comers to become the favored poker-based house-banked table game.

And it remains so to this day, with hundreds of tables currently running around the clock in Las Vegas alone – many of which likely occupy the same floor space where Caribbean Stud Poker tables once stood.

3 – You Should Be Folding Right Around Half of Your Hands

One of the main reasons explaining Caribbean Stud Poker’s decline can be found in the table below:

Probability Chart for Caribbean Stud Poker



Player Wins with Royal Flush 100 to 1 201 0.0001 percent
Player wins Straight Flush 50 to 1 101 0.0008 percent
Player wins with Four of a Kind 20 to 1 41 0.0142 percent
Player wins with Full House 7 to 1 15 0.0834 percent
Player wins with Flush 5 to 1 11 0.1097 percent
Player wins with Straight 4 to 1 9 0.2198 percent
Player wins with Three of a Kind 3 to 1 7 1.1751 percent
Players wins with two pair 2 to 1 5 2.4482 percent
Players wins with pair or less 1 to 1 1 11.7555 percent
Dealer doesn’t qualify 1 to 1 1 22.7385 percent
Push 0 0 0.0016 percent
Fold N/A (-1) 47.7745 percent
Dealer wins N/A (-3) 13.6786 percent

As you can see, statistical expectation for basic strategy players shows that 47.77 percent of hands should be folded straight away.

This “tight is right” strategy is right out of Sklansky’s playbook for traditional poker, but recreational table game gamblers don’t like the idea of forfeiting their Ante bet without a fight.

At least not on half of the hands they see, that is…

When the only choice is to hand the dealer a chip without going to showdown, or make a mistake by playing the Raise bet in bad spots, it’s no wonder so many players sought more exciting options.

4 – Perfect Strategy for Caribbean Stud Poker Is Extremely Easy to Learn

If you start out with one pair or better in this game, even a lowly pair of 2s, you should ALWAYS make the Raise bet.

And if you’re hand ranks at A-K-J-8-3 or worse – meaning hands like A-K-10-x-x or A-Q-x-x-x – you should ALWAYS fold.

That’s literally the entire basic strategy for online Caribbean Stud Poker right there in two simple rules. Using this system creates a house edge of 5.32 percent, along with a 2.60 percent element of risk.

5 – You Can Practice Your Basic Strategy Skills for Free Online

Screenshot of Caribbean Poker Training Tool
You’re now armed with basic strategy lessons for Caribbean Stud Poker, so the next step should be to test your newly acquired skills with a training tool.

An online Caribbean Stud Poker trainer will let you know if you’ve made a mistake based on basic strategy, so after a few hours spent practicing, you’ll be playing to perfection without a second thought.


The beautiful thing about casino gambling is how it constantly evolves with the times. Players in the ‘70s widely derided blackjack as a “woman’s game,” a diversion for the wife while they rolled dice at the craps table. Then, basic strategy and card counting books made blackjack the game of choice for a new generation. Caribbean Stud Poker came next, and after a rollicking decade of success in the ‘90s, it disappeared like dust. And today, thanks to online casinos taking a gamble of their own, the game is back to offer a new generation of players a taste of the old days.