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Caribbean stud poker

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Caribbean stud poker

Caribbean Poker, or Caribbean Stud Poker, also called Tropical Stud Poker, is a version of five card stud, played mainly in casinos. Like the blackjack player faces the dealer rather than other players.

Rule of the game

The game is played with a deck of fifty-two cards. Players must pay their ante before the start of the game. Each player receives five cards. After dealing the cards (the dealer turns the last card of the bank’s game), each player bets based on his hand: fold (and lose the ante), raise (paying double the ante) or, in the “Oasis” versions, buy a card.

If he has the opportunity to purchase (exchange) a card of his game, he has to pay the amount of the ante for this card. This purchase is not recovered if one wins.

The bank returns his game. She qualifies only if she has at least ace + king. If the bank does not qualify ( “no game”), she pays the amount of the ante to the players.

If the bank is qualified, she compares his game with each player (starting with the one located at the last place). If he has a better hand than the bank, the player wins  1x his ante and a multiple of his bet, according the hand he has. The payment is usually as follows:

  • AK or 1 pair: 1x

  • two pairs: 2x

  • three of a kind: 3x

  • straight: 4x

  • flush: 5x

  • full: 7x

  • four of a kind: 20x

  • straight flush: 50x

  • royal Flush: 100x

In case of ties, there is push and the player does not lose and does not win either.

In some casinos, the following rules apply:

  • In case of ties, no “kicker” card is used.

  • There is no comparison to the flush: two colors are always worth whatever their composition.

  • In case of ties with Ace/King, the player loses.

Players do not have the right to disclose information about their hands.

Probabilities

  • Not qualified: 43.64%
  • As + King: 6.44%
  • Pair: 42.26%
  • Two pairs: 4.75%
  • Three of a kind: 2.11%

etc. (as in regular poker)

Strategy

(Here we consider the strategy to maximize the expected gain.)

The player is always interested to bet if he has a pair or better, and pass if less than A + K. If he has Ace and King, his best game depends on the dealer’s card and the cards from his hand, that affect the probability that the bank qualifies.

The player rarely has interest to buy. He will do it if he can get a straight flush (even if he has to break this pair). It is most interesting time trying to form a straight or a flush. Many players buy on two pair or three of a kind, hoping to form a full or square. This is not a strategy that maximizes the expected value: the price paid is too high.

Expected gain

In the American version (no card purchase), the game gives the casino an average gain of 5.22% of the ante when players apply the optimal strategy. In “Oasis” version (with purchase), this gain is reduced to 1.95%.

In reality, the game is much more profitable to the casino, because few players apply the optimal strategy.

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