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Caribbean Stud Poker

Are you ready to be surprised? If you take a shuffled deck of cards and deal out ten hands consisting of five cards each and then turn them over. Only one or two of the hands you dealt will fail to qualify by the dealer’s standards. Most will have at least a single king or ace and there will be a lot of pairs. Go ahead, try it again. It is always the same. Less than 18 percent of poker hands (which is about one in five) will be lower than a pair and also won’t have an ace or king. This might be a great bar bet, but it is bad news when it comes to bluffing Caribbean Stud Poker because the dealer will actually qualify about 82 percent of time. Remember, you and the dealer have the same probability of receiving any given hand. About 50 percent of all the hands will be one pair or more and 32 percent of hands that are lower than one pair will have an ace, king, or both. The table below shows the various probabilities or receiving a given hand.

If you haven’t figured it out yet, then one look at the numbers in the table below should convince you that bluffing is absolutely out. If you hand is less than a pair and it doesn’t have an ace or king, the dealer has an 82 percent chance of qualifying and beating you. Bluffing is a very bad bet.

Betting a hand with a single ace or king high isn’t much better. You’ll win the ante bet about 17 percent of the time. You’ll lose the ante and the call bets at least 50 percent of the time, and it will be a toss-up about 32 percent of the time; you could win or lose the combined bet. That is an incredibly bad average.

Frequency of Caribbean Stud Poker Hands


Number of Occurrences

Percent Probability

Royal Flush



Straight Flush



Four of a Kind



Full House

3 744



5 108



10 200


Three of a Kind

54 912


Two Pair

123 552


One Pair

1 098 240


Ace or King high

838 440


Everything else

464 100



2 598 960


The numbers become more favorable when you only call with a pair or better. At least 50 percent of the time, the dealer will fold or lose with less than a pair. It is a toss up the other 50 percent. Of course, if you’re holding a pair of twos, the chance of winning is less than then holding a flush, but we’re talking about the chance for any pair-or-better to win.

Of course by restricting calls to a pair or better you will be throwing away half your hands at a cost of one ante bet per hand. Now most of those hands would be losers, but not all because the dealer may fail to qualify. This is where the house has its edge. The casino will always make the player call or fold first. This guarantees the casino about five percent of every dollar wagered. The figure is a bit higher when a player calls only a pair or better. Calling with an ace and king in your hand reduces the house edge, but it substantially increases the amount of money bet. If you’re willing to put more money into play, this is the best way to go. But remember, perfect strategy can only reduce the house edge; it cannot eliminate it. People who don’t play the more aggressive ace/king strategy should fold anything less than a pair and call any pair or higher.

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