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