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Caribbean Stud Poker Strategy

September 24, 2010

In Caribbean Stud Poker players have to make decisions like how much to wager on the ante bet and whether or not to wager on the side bet. These are decisions based on bankroll management and risk perception and do not deal with the strategy involved in the card play. The only time that the player has to make a strategic decision based on the cards is after he has placed the ante bet and seen his hand and the dealer’s up card. He then has to decide whether to call and place the additional wager or to fold and concede the ante wager. Fortunately very clear guidelines are available and if the player follows these he cannot go wrong in the long run.

There are three situations. The first is when the player has to fold irrespective of the dealer’s card. The second is when the decision to fold or call is based on the dealer’s up card. And the third is when the player has to call irrespective of the dealer’s card. The player must fold if he does not have the dealer’s qualifying hand, which is a hand that has at least an Ace and a King. There is a high probability that the dealer will qualify and if the player cannot at least match that it is not worth throwing good money after bad.

The next best situation for the player is that he has an Ace and a King but his third best card is of a lower rank than a Jack. In this case the player has to consider the dealer’s up card before taking a decision. The strategy is that if the dealer’s up card matches with any one of the player’s cards then he should call, otherwise he should fold. The reasoning is that when this happens it reduces the dealer’s chance of getting a Pair and shifts the odds in favor of the player.

In all other cases Caribbean Stud Poker strategy dictates that the player should call irrespective of the dealer’s up card. For some players this simple edict will suffice. But for the sake of those players who like to ask “why” some interesting cases are being discussed. In a merely qualifying hand with the third highest card being a Queen or a Jack, the player’s AKQ or AKJ is likely to beat the dealer’s hand.

The most problematic decision involves the player being dealt a Pair. When the rank of the Pair is greater than the rank of the dealer’s up card then it is expected that the player will win most of the time. However, when the rank of the Pair is less than the rank of the dealer’s up card then in the long run the player will lose. Therefore many players fold in this situation. However folding implies giving up the ante bet that has already been placed. Mathematical calculations show that the losses incurred by playing are less than the losses incurred by giving up the ante bet and hence the correct decision is to call even in this case.

If the player has any of the higher hand rankings, like Two Pairs, Three of a Kind, Straight, Flush, Full House, Four of a Kind, Straight Flush and Royal Flush, then he is in a very strong position and must call.

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