Colluding Your Way to Caribbean Stud Profits

By in Poker on
5 Minute Read
Caribbean Stud Poker Table Cards Logo

Caribbean stud is one of the most exciting games in the casino. It gives you a chance to win serious money through a progressive jackpot.

Some Caribbean stud jackpots have surpassed $1 million. You can find other prizes that are worth over $200,000 in land-based and online casinos.

The only problem, though, is that you have long odds of winning one of these massive payouts. You stand just 1 in 649,740 odds of getting a royal flush.

However, you might be interested to know that you can win big in this game without landing a royal. I’ll discuss more on Caribbean poker basics along with how collusion can boost your chances of winning profits.

What’s the Normal Process for Playing Caribbean Stud?

Before getting into the collusion aspect of Caribbean stud, I’d like to discuss how the game normally plays. This section covers the basic rules, payouts, and jackpot bet.

Basic Rules

Here are step-by-step instructions for playing a Caribbean stud hand:

  1. You place the ante bet to start a round. You can also make an optional $1 jackpot side bet.
  2. The casino dealer deals five facedown cards to you and five to themselves. They leave one card exposed.
  3. You have the choice to raise (equal to 2x the ante) or fold (forfeits ante and your bet on the jackpot).
  4. Assuming you raise, both you and the dealer reveal your hands.
  5. The dealer has to hold at least A-K-4-3-2 to have a qualifying hand. If they don’t qualify, you win the same amount you bet on the ante (raise pushes).
  6. When the dealer has a qualifying hand, he or she compares their cards with your cards. The dealer wins your ante and your raise raise with a stronger ranked holding.
  7. Assuming you have the best hand, you win the same amount you bet on the ante. Your raise payout is based on the casino’s pay table.

Payouts

Here are common payouts that you’ll receive on the raise for a winning hand:

  • Royal flush pays: 100 to 1
  • Straight flush pays: 50 to 1
  • Four of a kind pays: 20 to 1
  • Full house pays: 7 to 1
  • Flush pays: 5 to 1
  • Straight pays: 4 to 1
  • Three of a kind pays: 3 to 1
  • Two pair pays: 2 to 1
  • Any other hand: 1 to 1

Casinos can feature pay tables that vary from this version. However, most tables don’t deviate far from the norm.

Making the Jackpot Bet

You can choose whether or not to place a $1 jackpot side bet in Caribbean stud. Tables feature a designated space where you can put your chips.

When you do place the side wager, you’ll be eligible for a progressive jackpot and other prizes.

Here’s a typical jackpot pay table:

  • Royal flush = 100% of progressive jackpot
  • Straight flush = 10% of progressive jackpot
  • Four of a kind = $100
  • Full house = $75
  • Flush = $50

You don’t have to beat the dealer to win any of these prizes. Instead, everything depends upon the strength of the hand you hold.

You Can Gain an Edge Through the Jackpot

As mentioned at the outset, you only stand 1 in 649,740 odds of receiving a royal flush. If you make the side bet every hand, you’ll need to place $649,740 in jackpot wagers on average to win the top prize.

Of course, you can’t play unless you also make the regular bet. Depending upon if you’re playing online or in land-based casinos, the standard wager ranges from $1 to $10.

The regular Caribbean stud house edge sits at 5.224% with perfect strategy. Assuming you make a few strategy mistakes here or there, you’ll be facing a higher house advantage.

The jackpot house edge is usually much worse—at least in the beginning anyways. Casinos initially seed these prizes at around $10,000.

You’ll normally be at over a 30% disadvantage when playing for the progressive prize in the beginning. You must let the jackpot grow in order to get more value from bets.

Many Caribbean stud jackpots offer positive expected value (i.e. over 100% RTP) at $250,000 and above. You actually have a theoretical advantage at this point.

The word “theoretical” is emphasized here. You still need to eventually win the jackpot to realize the positive expected value.

How to Win in Caribbean Stud Through Collusion

Collusion can be effective in any game with hole cards. Players gain information that they’re not supposed to have by sharing hole cards with each other.

Colluders commonly target online Caribbean Stud poker. They can easily grab an edge on opponents by communicating hole cards through text, Instagram, etc.

However, many gamblers don’t know that collusion can pay off in Caribbean stud too. Players can actually gain an edge over the house by sharing hole cards.

Again, the main way to gain a Caribbean stud edge is by playing when the jackpot grows large enough. Even still, you probably won’t win profits in this manner.

Collusion is the most-realistic route towards consistently beating this game. You and other players can use the following strategy to win more often:

  • Share information on aces, kings, and cards that match the dealer’s upcard (explained later).
  • This info helps each player improve their raise/fold decision.
  • Make sure that all seven players at the table are colluding.

The latter point is key in this strategy. You can only turn the odds in your group’s favor by filling all seven seats with colluders.

Seven colluding gamblers who use a winning strategy can collectively gain a 2.38% edge over the casino. Six players sharing information with each other still results in a 0.4% house advantage.

You absolutely need every player on board. Otherwise, you’re merely reducing the house edge rather than working towards guaranteed profits.

What Strategy Should Colluders Use?

You can see that it’s possible to beat Caribbean stud with a table full of players working together. But what kind of strategy must players use to pull this off?

In his 2007 book Beyond Counting, James Grosjean describes the MAK count. After all of the cards are dealt, MAK calls on players to look for the following:

  • Matches (M) – Teammates need to share how many of their collective cards match the dealer’s upcard. They can have 0 through 3 matching cards.
  • Aces (A) – Players share how many aces they have, ranging from 0 through 4.
  • Kings (K) – The team shares how many kings they hold, ranging from 0 through 4.

Of course, players can’t just show each other hole cards under the table. The dealer, pit boss, and/or cameras would quickly catch a table full of gamblers doing so.

The team must instead devise a way to share cards without being so obvious. Sample nonverbal communication methods include playing with chips or positioning one’s hands/arms in a certain way.

Team members must also decide how to play based on the information they share. Here are a couple suggestions from Grosjean’s Beyond Counting:

  • When M is 0: a player must hold a higher pair than the croupier’s upcard to raise.
  • When M is 3, and A + K is 7 or 8: the player should raise.

Should You Bother With Caribbean Stud Collusion?

The main problem with colluding in Caribbean stud is that it’s not allowed. You and your team will assuredly be thrown out and banned if caught.

Whether you face legal repercussions depends upon the laws in the state/country where you collude. Most players are deterred enough by the thought of being thrown out, though. Beyond the danger element, Caribbean stud collusion is really hard. Team members must have an in-depth strategy worked out beforehand along with non-obvious cues.

A table full of gamblers winking at each other when they have aces, kings, or matches will quickly be revealed. You need a much smoother strategy to relay information without getting caught.

The potential 2.38% edge that you gain through this strategy isn’t exactly a great payoff either. Hole card and shuffle tracking, for example, pay off much more and are easier to pull off.

You would enjoy an easier time colluding in live dealer Caribbean stud (online). However, live dealer casinos don’t offer seven seats for this very reason.

Conclusion

It’s always fun to dream of new-and-exciting ways to beat the casino. Colluding in Caribbean stud is one way to win profits against the house.

However, this method is also difficult and risky. You need a full table (seven players) sharing information to gain an advantage.

Your whole team will be thrown out of the casino if caught. You could also face prosecution depending upon the jurisdiction and casino in question.

There are easier ways to earn profits in casinos. Nevertheless, Caribbean stud collusion is a valid method if you’re willing to put the work in.

Michael Stevens

Michael Stevens has been researching and writing topics involving the gambling industry for well over a decade now and is considered an expert on all things casino and sports betting. Michael has been writing for GamblingSites.org since early 2016. ...

View all posts by Michael Stevens
Email the author at: [email protected]