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How to Play Caribbean Poker for the Most Fun and Profit

Everygame Casino carries two Caribbean poker variations: Caribbean Stud Poker and Caribbean Holdem.   These variations of poker were developed at land-based casinos in the Caribbean, ergo their names.  In both variations, you play against the dealer which means playing against the house.  There is no bluffing and, if you play this game at a land-based casino, you can win the hand against the dealer even if you have a hand that is inferior to another player’s hand.

You play the Caribbean Poker variations against the dealer!

The Unique Strategy in Caribbean Poker

In this article, we will talk about improving your winning chances at Caribbean Poker by learning and incorporating the best strategy for each variation.

Caribbean Stud Poker

Let’s set up the basic rules:

  1. The dealer deals five cards face up to you and five cards to herself with only one of them face up.
  2. You have to decide to stay in the hand or fold.  If you stay in the hand, you have to make a second bet that is twice the ante bet you made before the deal.
  3. Now there are two bets on the table.  You can win both bets, you can lose both bets, or you can win the ante bet and the second bet becomes a push.
  4. In order for you to win both bets or lose both bets, the dealer has to “qualify” with at least an ace-king.  The dealer thus qualifies with any pair, even a lowly pair of twos.
  5. If the dealer qualifies, you win both bets if your hand is better than the dealer’s.  If your hand is worse, you lose both bets.
  6. If the dealer does not qualify, you automatically win the ante bet even if your hand was worse than the dealer’s hand and the second bet is a push: no winner.

It is clear that a lot of the strategy in Caribbean Stud Poker revolves around winning at least the ante.

You can stay in a hand with a poor hand hoping that the dealer will also have a poor hand or at least not a qualifying hand.  You could have 2, 3, 4, 5, 7 and the dealer could have ace, queen, jack, 10, 9 and you will win the ante since the dealer didn’t qualify to win the hand outright.


How Often is There a Pair with Five Cards?

Both your chances of getting a pair and the dealer’s chances are about 42.3%.there is another concept called cumulative probability that combines the chances that the dealer will have either a pair or a hand better than a pair. 

The cumulative probability for the dealer to have pair or better is almost exactly 50%. 

So, the best strategy for you boils down to two choices.  You might choose to fold any hand that doesn’t have a pair and you might stay in any hand with a pair.  Some players will fold a pair if the dealer’s up card is higher than their pair since they fear the dealer pairing the up card.  This strategy is considered incorrect by all analysts.

The second choice is to stay in with an ace-king combination and a relatively high kicker hoping that the dealer qualified with an ace-king and a lower kicker. 

The strategy you follow will depend on your gaming personality and your bankroll.  If you stay in a hand with not even a pair, you are hoping that the dealer also didn’t have a pair or an ace-king in which case you win the ante bet and the second bet is a push.

When is it Good to Hope that the Dealer Has Qualified?

If you have a very good hand, which happens a bit infrequently, you hope the dealer qualifies because then you win more than just your second bet.  There is an ascending scale of payouts for winning hands when the dealer qualifies.

Caribbean Holdem

The pattern in Caribbean Holdem is similar to the pattern in Caribbean Stud: the dealer deals the first two cards face up to the player and face down to herself.  Then she deals the flop which consists of the first three of the five community cards.

Now the player has to decide to continue or fold.  There are already five cards out and the player can see all five for himself and three of them for the dealer.  The dealer has to qualify with at least a pair of fours in order to win both bets.  The player can win both bets only if the dealer qualifies and the player has the better hand.

After the player decides to stay in the hand, he or she adds a second bet that is twice the size of the first bet.

Then the dealer plays the turn and river cards together and the hand goes to the showdown.

Strategy in Caribbean Holdem is similar to the strategy in Caribbean Stud but it forces the player to look more closely at the flop.  Since there are seven cards in Holdem but only five cards in stud, there are more high level hands in Holdem.  You have to be aware of the possibility that the dealer might have the makings of a flush or straight.

Also keep in mind that in regular Texas Holdem, players fold about 70% of the time after two cards since there is a betting round before the flop.  Caribbean Holdem takes away this round of betting and the rounds after the turn and the river.

As the player, you simply have to decide what the chances are that the dealer will get a pair which are quite high and what the chances are that the dealer gained more real or potential strength from the flop than you did.

Using the best strategy in Caribbean Holdem you will stay in the hand about 80% of the time.  We will detail the best strategy by dividing it into two parts: when you should stay in the hand and when you should fold. 

Since you win the ante bet if the dealer doesn’t qualify, you always have an extra incentive to stay in the hand.  This is both good strategy and poor strategy.  It is good strategy to see winning possibilities even when you don’t have much of a hand.  It is poor strategy to see winning possibilities when the opposite is by far more likely.

You will also see that the strategy is more complex than in Caribbean Stud.  Actually, Caribbean Holdem is a low risk way for new Holdem players to play a lot of hands in which they need to read the flop and see all the possibilities therein.

You've got to know when to hold em, know when to fold em - so let's see:

When to Fold

  1. You should fold when you completely missed the flop.  That means that you have no straighting or flushing possibilities.  Three to a straight or flush after the flop is a folding situation.
  2. There is an exception to this rule: if you hold at least two high cards, you might stay in hoping to pair one of them.
  3. You should fold if there is a pair on the board and you don’t have a card that pairs with a different card from the flop. 
  4. The exception to this rule is that if you have four to a flush or straight, you should stay in the hand.

When to Stay in the Hand

  1. The first thing to realize is that you should stay in a lot more hands than you should fold.
  2. You need to see the flop well to fold some hands.  If you have a single high card and the board has straighting or flushing possibilities for the dealer, you should fold.
  3. In any other case, if you have a high card, you should stay in the hand.  If you pair your high card, you might well win both bets as the dealer could qualify with a low pair.
  4. The last strategy rule is to stay in the hand if both of your hole cards are higher than any card from the flop.  The idea is the same as the one above: you might win with a high pair and the dealer might qualify with a low pair.

Play Caribbean Poker at Everygame Casino

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