Poker can be an intimidating prospect for the novice player. All those images from Hollywood of cigar-puffing, whisky-swilling card sharks, or the sight of the WSOP pros playing for thousands of dollars is enough to frighten any casual player away. Of course, if you’ve read the beginner tips in these pages, you’ll know the truth is quite different and there are variations of the game that are ideal for first-timers.
Video poker is the classic place to go to learn the basics and get to know a full house from a straight. In three-card poker, you can take those skills onto the casino floor and go up against a dealer. These variations are hugely popular among casual players, both in real world casinos and online at sites like Hajper, where you can even play against a live dealer. Yet they also have their limitations. Looking for the next step in the journey that will ultimately lead to the Texas Holdem tables? Caribbean Stud could be the game for you.
The set up
Caribbean Stud is very similar to three card poker, in as much as the action pits you against the dealer and no other players. The difference is that you are now dealt five cards instead of three. This means that all those possibilities you have in video poker, such as a full house or four of a kind, come into play.
When you place your stake, the dealer will deal five cards each, face down. He will then flip one of his cards face up, whereupon you can then look at your hand. You must now decide whether you want to double your bet to see if your hand beats the dealer’s. If you fold, you lose your stake.
Assuming you decide to play, the dealer will reveal the rest of his hand. It has to be at least Ace-King in order for the dealer to qualify – if it’s not, then all stakes are returned and you start again. If the dealer qualifies, then hands are ranked according to normal rules, a royal flush being best, all the way down to a high card. Payouts vary between tables, but are typically around 100/1 for a Royal Flush down to evens for a pair or lower.
You also have the opportunity to make a bonus stake, whereby you can claim a share of a progressive jackpot for a hand of three-of-a-kind or better.
Optimum strategy states that you should play if you have Ace-King-Jack-8-3 or better, and otherwise fold. However, this varies slightly depending on the dealer’s upcard. A simple rule that is close to optimum is to play if you have a pair or better, and otherwise fold – that’s certainly easier to remember.
The bonus bet is tempting, as there is nothing more infuriating than being dealt a great hand, such as a full house, only for the dealer not to qualify and all bets to be returned. However, when you work out the mathematics, the house edge is actually around 25 percent, so you will do better in the long run if you leave it alone.