Posted by James K.
Nov 18, 2015

Introduction

Caribbean Stud Poker is surprisingly popular in Macau. On a percentage basis, I think there are more tables in Macau than Las Vegas.

Rules

  1. Player makes an ante wager plus an optional HK$ 25 progressive side bet.

  2. Each player and the dealer get five cards each. All cards are dealt face down, except one dealer card is exposed. The player may examine his own cards but sharing of information is not allowed.

  3. Player must fold or raise.

  4. If player folds he forfeits his cards, ante bet, and side bet (if made)

  5. If player raises then he must make a raise wager exactly equal to twice the ante

  6. The dealer will turn over his other four cards

  7. The dealer must have an ace and a king or higher to qualify. In other words, the lowest qualifying hand would be ace,king,4,3,2 and the highest non-qualifying hand would be ace,queen,jack,10,9. If the dealer does not qualify the player will win even money on his ante wager and the raise will push.

  8. If the dealer qualifies and beats the player, both ante and raise will lose.

  9. If the dealer qualifies and loses to the player, then the ante will pay even money and the raise according to the posted pay table. The Macau pay table is shown below.

  10. If the player and dealer tie, both ante and raise will push.

  11. The progressive side bet will be entrirely based on the poker value of the player's hand, as shown in the side bet section of this page.

 

Raise Pay Table
Hand Pays
Royal flush 100 to 1
Straight flush 50 to 1
Four of a kind 20 to 1
Full house 7 to 1
Flush 5 to 1
Straight 4 to 1
Three of a kind 3 to 1
Two pair 2 to 1
All other 1 to 1

Strategy

Two rules of thumb will guide you correctly through 93.6% of hands in Caribbean Stud Poker. These two rules are:

  1. Always raise with a pair or higher.

  2. Always fold with a non-qualifying hand.

 

For hands with an ace and a king things get more complicated. I recommend my very own "Wizard Way" for Caribbean Stud Poker. It goes as follows.

  1. Does dealer's up card match any card in player's hand? If yes, go to step 2, if no go to step 4

  2. Is dealer's up card an ace of king? If yes, go to step 3, if not, RAISE.

  3. Does player have a jack or queen? If yes, RAISE, if not, FOLD.

  4. Does player have a queen? If yes, go to step 5, if not FOLD.

  5. Which is higher, player's fourth highest card, or dealer's up card? If player's card is higher, RAISE, if dealer's card is higher, FOLD.

 

Following my "Wizard Way" will result in a house edge of 5.225%. The optimal strategy is only 0.001% lower, at 5.224%. The optimal strategy in Caribbean Stud Poker is extremely complicated. For informational purposes, I present the optimal strategy, on when to raise on ace/king, in my companion site, Wizard of Odds.

Side Bet

The side bet is a flat HK$ 25. It pays based only on the player's hand, as follows. All wins are on a "for one" basis, in other words, the original bet is never returned.

 

Side Bet Pay Table
Hand Pays
Royal flush 100% of Jackpot
Straight flush 10% of Jackpot
Four of a kind $5000
Full house $1500
Flush $1000

The expected return of the side bet will vary according to the amount in the jackpot meter. The following return table shows the odds for a HK$ 2.8 million jackpot, which I use because that is what the Wynn boasted paying on a recent jackpot, as shown in the following picture. The lower right cell shows a return of 65.04%, or a house edge of 34.96%.

 

 

 

Side Bet Return Table
Hand Pays Combinations Probability Return
Royal flush $2800000 4 0.000002 0.172377
Straight flush $280000 36 0.000014 0.155139
Four of a kind $5000 624 0.00024 0.048019
Full house $1500 3744 0.001441 0.086435
Flush $1000 5108 0.001965 0.078616
Total $ 9516 0.003661 0.540585

At a jackpot amount of HK$ 6,727,631.58 the odds are exactly fair. Any meter above that and the odds swing to the player's favor.

The following table shows the expected return for a range of jackpot amounts.

 

Side Bet — Return by Jackpot Amount
Jackpot Return
$ 7,000,000 103.19%
$ 6,900,000 102.02%
$ 6,800,000 100.85%
$ 6,700,000 99.68%
$ 6,600,000 98.51%
$ 6,500,000 97.34%
$ 6,400,000 96.17%
$ 6,300,000 95.00%
$ 6,200,000 93.83%
$ 6,100,000 92.66%
$ 6,000,000 91.49%
$ 5,900,000 90.32%
$ 5,800,000 89.15%
$ 5,700,000 87.98%
$ 5,600,000 86.81%
$ 5,500,000 85.64%
$ 5,400,000 84.47%
$ 5,300,000 83.3%
$ 5,200,000 82.13%
$ 5,100,000 80.96%
$ 5,000,000 79.79%
$ 4,900,000 78.62%
$ 4,800,000 77.45%
$ 4,700,000 76.28%
$ 4,600,000 75.11%
$ 4,500,000 73.94%
$ 4,400,000 72.77%
$ 4,300,000 71.60%
$ 4,200,000 70.43%
$ 4,100,000 69.26%
$ 4,000,000 68.09%
$ 3,900,000 66.93%
$ 3,800,000 65.76%
$ 3,700,000 64.59%
$ 3,600,000 63.42%
$ 3,500,000 62.25%
$ 3,400,000 61.08%
$ 3,300,000 59.91%
$ 3,200,000 58.74%
$ 3,100,000 57.57%
$ 3,000,000 56.4%
$ 2,900,000 55.23%
$ 2,800,000 54.06%
$ 2,700,000 52.89%
$ 2,600,000 51.72%
$ 2,500,000 50.55%
$ 2,400,000 49.38%
$ 2,300,000 48.21%
$ 2,200,000 47.04%
$ 2,100,000 45.87%
$ 2,000,000 44.7%
$ 1,900,000 43.53%
$ 1,800,000 42.36%
$ 1,700,000 41.19%
$ 1,600,000 40.02%
$ 1,500,000 38.85%
$ 1,400,000 37.68%
$ 1,300,000 36.51%
$ 1,200,000 35.34%
$ 1,100,000 34.17%
$ 1,000,000 33.00%