Does Caribbean Stud Really Pay This Badly?

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Caribbean Stud

Caribbean Stud is one of the most popular casino table games. It combines challenging gameplay with a progressive jackpot that can sometimes reach $250,000 or more.

However, you may avoid playing this game for one reason—the house edge! The Caribbean Stud house advantage is listed at just 5.22% (94.78% RTP).

It looks like one of the worst-paying table games based on this house edge. You might think that people would have to be crazy to play Caribbean Stud with these odds of winning.

As you’ll find out in the following post, though, there’s more to the story. Caribbean Stud doesn’t pay as badly as it initially seems when looking further into the matter.

Caribbean Stud Rules

Each round of Caribbean Stud starts with you putting out an ante. You also have the chance to place an optional side bet at this time too.

Afterward, the dealer will give you five face-down cards. They’ll receive four face-down cards along with one up card.

Upon reviewing your cards, you can either choose to raise or fold. When raising, you’ll need to bet 2x your ante.

You and the dealer then turn over all face-down cards. The dealer needs to hold at least A-K or better to qualify, with the lowest-qualifying hand being A-K-4-3-2.

Assuming the dealer doesn’t qualify, then you’ll win even money (1:1) on the ante and push on the raise. If the dealer qualifies and wins the hand, you lose both the ante and raise.

When the dealer qualifies and loses, you win even money on the ante. The raise payout, meanwhile, is based on the casino’s pay table.

Here’s a common Caribbean Stud pay table for raises:

  • Royal Flush – 100:1 payout
  • Straight Flush – 50:1 payout
  • Four of a Kind – 20:1 payout
  • Full House – 7:1 payout
  • Flush – 5:1 payout
  • Straight – 4:1 payout
  • Three of a Kind – 3:1 payout
  • Two Pair – 2:1 payout
  • Anything Else – 1:1 payout

This Game Features Multiple Betting Rounds

Again, the Caribbean Stud house edge is listed at 5.22%. This unfavorable figure only takes the ante into consideration.

This game features multiple betting rounds—not just one. Therefore, the house edge doesn’t do Caribbean Stud justice.

Casino Games

You’re going to raise quite often throughout the course of a session. So, the house advantage should take both the ante and these additional raises into account.

Of course, it’s difficult to determine exactly how many times your raise. This is the main reason why the list of house edge only considers the ante. However, you can determine your true chances of winning by looking at the “element of risk.”

What Is Caribbean Stud’s Element of Risk?

Michael Shackleford, a casino actuary, came up with the term “element of risk.” He uses it to describe a modified house edge that takes multiple betting rounds into account.

Caribbean Stud is one game where the element of risk applies. It features two betting rounds, including the opening ante and the raise/fold round.

If you only consider the ante, then you’re only getting half the story with this game. A better way to measure the true chances of winning involves determining how many times you’ll raise on average.

Shackleford has determined that, under optimal circumstances, you’ll raise 52.23% of the time. Put another way, you’ll bet an average of 2.05 units in each round.

The Caribbean Stud element of risk under perfect strategy is 2.56%. This payout percentage makes stud far more competitive with other table games.

Here’s a look at how stud ranks compared to its peers when considering the risk element:

  • Blackjack – 0.50% house edge
  • Baccarat – 1.06%
  • French Roulette – 1.35%
  • Craps – 1.36%
  • Three-Card Poker – 2.01% (also considers element of risk)
  • Caribbean Stud – 2.56%
  • Casino War – 2.68% (considers element of risk)
  • European Roulette – 2.70%
  • Sic Bo – 2.78%
  • Pai Gow Poker – 2.84%
  • Let It Ride – 2.85% (considers element of risk)
  • American Roulette – 5.26%
  • Big Six – 11.11% to 22.22%

Caribbean Stud still isn’t quite on par with blackjack or baccarat when it comes to the house advantage. Nevertheless, it’s a much more playable game when you consider the risk element rather than just the listed house edge.

Use Caribbean Stud Strategy to Lower the Element of Risk

The 2.56% element of risk looks good on paper. You do, however, need to know how to use proper strategy to enjoy this lower house advantage.

The key to the Caribbean Stud is knowing the perfect situations to raise. Luckily, the strategy isn’t difficult at all to master.

Here are the basic strategy rules to follow:

  • Always raise with a pair or better.
  • Always fold with less than A-K.

Raise with A-K under the following circumstances:

  • The dealer’s upcard is 2 through Q and matches one of your cards.
  • The dealer’s upcard is A or K, and you have Q or J.
  • The dealer’s upcard doesn’t match any of your cards, you have Q, and the dealer’s upcard is worse than your fourth-highest card.

This fairly simple strategy will lower the risk element to 2.56% (or 5.22% listed house edge). When compared to blackjack, Caribbean Stud isn’t difficult to master.

Prepare Your Bankroll for Multiple Bets

When trying to conserve your bankroll, you may choose table games based on the listed stakes. If you’re comfortable betting $5 per hand, then you’ll be fine with sitting at a $5 Caribbean Stud table.

Of course, this game calls on you to make an additional bet at times. In fact, you must raise in order to enjoy the 2.56% element of risk.

If you perform bankroll management calculations, then you must take extra bets into account. As mentioned before, you’ll wager 2.05 units per round with expert strategy.


The average number of wagers helps you come up with a more accurate bankroll management plan. Here’s an example using the average number of bets per round:

  • You have a $1,000 bankroll.
  • You sit down to a $5 Caribbean Stud table.
  • 1,000 / 2.05 = 478.8
  • Your bankroll will theoretically last for 478.8 hands.

If you’d like to play longer than this, then you can always add to your bankroll. Of course, you should only add money if you can afford to lose the extra money. The additional funds shouldn’t be meant for bills or anything else important.

Be Wary of the Side Bet

For many Caribbean Stud players, the progressive jackpot is the ultimate goal. This is especially the case when the jackpot reaches six figures.

Here’s a look at the Caribbean Stud 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

Many casinos only require you to risk $1 to play for the jackpot. With that said, you won’t notice much of a hit to your bankroll every time you miss out.

Other casinos might require a $5 side bet. In these cases, the progressive jackpot can reach $1 million before it’s won.

Whether risking $1 or $5, though, you have to consider your low chances of winning the jackpot. The odds of being deal a royal flush are only 1 in 640,739.

You theoretically need to wager either $649,739 ($1 bet) or $3,203,695 ($5 bet) to eventually get the jackpot. That said, you want to be careful of continually placing the side wager.

Of course, there’s nothing wrong with going after the progressive jackpot occasionally. The jackpot is what brings much of the excitement to this game. However, you do want to take the odds into account before making side bets.

Caribbean Stud doesn’t necessarily have to be all about the jackpot. Its 2.56% risk element makes it playable regardless.


Caribbean Stud may initially look like it pays poorly. Going further, you may avoid this game at all costs when seeing the 5.22% house edge.

The reality, though, is that Caribbean Stud’s house edge ranks around the middle of table games. Its element of risk is only 2.56%.

Using this figure, Stud actually gives you a better chance to win then European roulette, Pai Gow Poker, Let It Ride, and several other table games.

You just need to use perfect strategy to achieve the 2.56% element of risk. If you’re going to play Caribbean Stud anyways, you might as well learn the strategy to boost your chances of winning.

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 since early 2016. ...

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