I have two questions regarding Caribbean Stud poker. First, is there any basic
strategy for the game, and, do you recommend betting the progressive
side bet? Miguel H.
It's only fair, Miguel, before answering your questions to offer up a primer
for those with little-to-zip knowledge of Caribbean Stud poker. So, readers,
the best way to learn this simple game is to get a deck of cards, shuffle 'em
up, and play along at your kitchen table.
Caribbean Stud poker is in essence five-card stud poker, without the luxury
of a draw. Each player antes up and is dealt five cards from a 52-card deck.
The dealer also receives five cards, then reveals one of them. After seeing
this card, the player must choose whether to stay or fold. Folding loses the
ante. Those who stay, must double their bets and make a separate wager dubbed
a "call bet."
The dealer now exposes his remaining four cards. If the dealer does not "qualify"
by having at least an ace/king, the hand is over, and those who
called the hand win an amount equal to their ante. If the dealer does qualify,
the hand is played out, with players winning their antes and call
bets, on hands higher than the dealer's. If the dealer's hand is higher, the
player loses both wagers. There is also a bonus payout schedule for hands
from one pair through a royal flush, but the dealer must qualify and the player
must be in the hand to get this bonus payout. Caribbean Stud offers the easiest
basic strategy system to memorize of any card game: If your five-card hand is
an ace-king-jack-8-3 or better, call the dealer. If not, fold.
Whether you should bet the optional progressive jackpot wager, well, Miguel,
I will report the arithmetic, you decide.
To be eligible to win all or part of the jackpot (the progressive jackpot pays
out for straight flushes, for fours-of-a-kind, full houses and
flushes), an additional dollar must be wagered in a slot in front of the ante
circle. Luckily, these jackpots are paid regardless of whether the
dealer qualifies or not, but you would need more than good fortune to hit one.
You see, Miguel, there are 2,598,560 possible five-card combinations in
a standard 52-card deck. With four ways to make a royal flush, the true odds
of hitting a natural royal are 649,760 to one. Put another way, if you
played four hours a day, 365 days a year, it's going to take you about fifteen
years — on average; are you listening? — to hit a natural royal flush.
Bottom line: With jackpots generally below $200,000 — and the odds of hitting
it close to 650,000 to one — to me, it's a no-brainer. Oops! You were
supposed to decide, weren't you?
In a crowded casino, when there are no blackjack seats are available, why can't
a player just make a bet alongside another player on the game? Tom R.
"Back-of-the-chair-betting" is generally not allowed in most stateside
casinos, though some casinos, especially outside the U.S., allow players not
actually seated at the table to make bets at blackjack. These players are called
standees. To make a wager, a standee would place bets in the betting
circles of gamesters who are already perched at the table. The downside, Tom,
is that when betting from behind, you are in observation mode only,
since the sitting players get to make all the decisions without the advice of
the standees. Without chips-and-a-chair, standees must swallow those
decisions and smile.
Gambling quote of the week: "If they're helpless and they can't
defend themselves, you're in the right game." —The Mad Genius of Poker,