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Caribbean Stud Poker Strategy

In our section on the Caribbean Stud Poker house edge, we've demonstrated that the house edge in Caribbean Stud Poker is 5.22%. However, this is only true if we make two assumptions. The first is a standard Caribbean Poker pay table, and the second is that you play the optimal Caribbean Poker strategy.

Every reasonable Caribbean Stud strategy has two rules in common:

Fold if your hand isn't listed in the hierarchy of Caribbean Stud Poker hands, that is fold if you don't hold an Ace/King or higher.
Place the Call bet if you hold at least a Pair or higher.

The thing that distinguishes one Caribbean Stud Poker strategy from another, is what they tell you to do if you hold an Ace/King. The optimal Caribbean Stud Poker strategy is very complicated. If you really want to learn this strategy you must read Michael Shacklefords analysis here.

Our guess is that you will find that learning the optimal Caribbean Poker strategy involves too much effort. Therefore, we will provide you with three sub-optimal strategies that are much easier to learn, and that have a house edge that is comparable to optimal Caribbean Stud Poker strategy. Remember that these strategies only apply if you hold an Ace/King. For other hands we've already described above how you need to play.

Call if your remaining three cards are Jack-8-3 or better

This strategy was developed by Peter Griffin and John M. Gwynn Jr. It's very simple and has an house edge of 5.32%.

Call if one of your remaining three cards matches the dealer's up card

We've found this strategy in an article by Henry Tamburin. According to Michael Schackleford this strategy has an house edge of 5.33% (more information here).

Olaf Vancura's strategy

This strategy is published in Olaf Vancura's book Smart Casino Gambling (more information available in our Caribbean Stud Poker books section). Olaf Vancura adds two more rules to the second strategy discussed above, reducing the house edge to 5.22%. This strategy can be summarized as follows:

Call if one of your remaining three cards matches the dealer's up card.
Call if one of your remaining three cards equals a Queen or a Jack, and the dealer's up card matches any of your five cards.
Call if your remaining three cards equal Queen-X-Y (X >Y), and the dealer's up card ranks lower than X.

The Caribbean Stud Poker strategies discussed so far, only deal with the decision to Fold or to Call after you are dealt your cards. There is however another strategy decision you'll have to make when playing Caribbean Poker. This decision is if you should take the $1 progressive side bet or not, and has to be made *before* you are dealt your cards (at the same time you're placing your Ante bet). In general we advise you to *not* take the progressive side bet, because the house edge on this bet is so high, that the jackpot will seldom be high enough to overcome this.