One of the most popular table games used to be Caribbean Stud Poker. The lure of a progressive jackpot for a dealt royal flush kept the tables packed. The game is still available at some properties, so if you ever decide to sit down and play here are some factors to keep in mind:
First, bet on any pair or higher, and second, if you're holding Ace-King, make a bet only if one of your remaining cards matches the dealer's up card.
That's about it. But really, what more could there be? No matter how much you analyze the game, the basic premise is that each player at the table is dealt five cards out of a single 52-card deck. Those are the cards you must play. The only other clue you have is the dealer's up card. If you could peek at the hands of the other players you'd haveanother edge, to be sure, but such practice is strictly prohibited.
You just have to hope to be lucky enough to be dealt a good hand. But even if you are, there is still no guarantee that you can capitalize on it.
You must remember that even though Caribbean Stud poker is a variation of 5-Card Stud poker, you are playing your hand against the dealer's hand and not against the other players at the table.
Say you're dealt a pair of deuces, the low end of so-called playable hands. In addition to the $5 that you've already put up as your ante to be dealt a hand, you now are obliged, according to the rules of play, to make a bet that is double your ante, which means you now have $15 riding on a couple of twos! The only way you can win your ante and bet is for the dealer to flip over an Ace-King. A pair of threes or better beats you. If the dealer has nothing (a non-qualifying hand), you win even money on your ante and you take back your bet. I consider that a paltry return for having $15 at risk on the table.
It can be tiresome being dealt a series of hands that contain nothing. You sit there folding time after time and losing your ante money. Sure, you can bet with your feelings or on a hunch, hoping that the dealer comes up with nothing as well, and you'll at least win even money on your ante. But Ace-King or better in the dealer's hand will wipe out your $15, and believe me, it hurts to lose that much money when you're holding "garbage".
Let's consider the frustration of getting a good hand, say a high pair or even three of a kind. It's difficult enough to be dealt a hand like that, but in Caribbean Stud, you have to sweat out hoping the dealer will qualify with Ace-King or better if you hope to win a nice little pot. Your three of a kind will pay 3-1 on your bet if the dealer qualifies. If not, you'll win even money on your ante and nothing on your bet. It's maddening waiting for a good hand, and when you finally get one the dealer turns over zilch...but when you had deuces, he flipped over a pair of threes to beat you!
The real attraction of Caribbean Stud is the progressive jackpot the game includes for hitting a royal flush. Minor awards are paid out of the progressive pot, including bonuses for getting a flush, full house, four of a kind, or straight flush. You must play a side bet of $1 on the hand to participate in the progressive pot. The dealer doesn't have to qualify for you to win a bonus hand if you've made the side wager.
But even if you are fortunate enough to be dealt a bonus hand and you've played your extra dollar to participate, you have to hope the dealer qualifies so that you'll be paid extra for your bet, which can mean hundreds of dollars. If the dealer doesn't qualify, you'll get a bonus all right, but your bet money will be returned.
One other thing to remember: Caribbean Stud carries a hefty house edge of about 5.6 per cent. It can be a fun game, but as we've learned, also very frustrating. The strategy is minimal, and the luck factor huge.