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Making the Call: Betting Strategy for Caribbean Stud Poker

By J. Phillip Vogel

"Do you know what the best thing about this game is?" Jim said as he pulled his chair up next to me at the Caribbean Stud table. "You can play for a long time before running out of money. I don't know why casinos keep these games around!"

That's a typical and sadly all-too-common sentiment felt by most players of the game Caribbean Stud poker. They think that just because it takes them longer to go broke, it must be an easy game.

"I thought the object of gambling was winning," I responded. "Not seeing how long it takes to lose."

"Well sure," he said. " But I always lose anyway, so I might as well play a game that I like. Besides, this one's really easy.

Sound familiar?

If you ask most players if they're good at Caribbean Stud, they typically answer with a nod and an emphatic, "Of course! They're easy!" Well, I've got some news for you. Any game is easy to play. Playing, however, is very different from winning. To win, you have to play correctly, using the proper strategy and money management techniques that professionals have been preaching for decades. Those principles are no different if you play a difficult game like blackjack, or the more "straightforward" games like Caribbean Stud. But unlike blackjack, Caribbean Stud's apparent simplicity makes players an easy target for the casino.

Let's take a quick little test and see how well you know the basic strategy for Caribbean Stud poker.

Which of the following hands would you never make the call bet on?

Player has A-K-10-4-2 (unsuited) with the dealer exposing an ace.
Player has Q-J-7-2-2 with the dealer exposing a 10.
Player has K-10-8-8-5 with the dealer exposing an 8.

If you answered number one, congratulations -you're wrong, and you're one of the majority of players who thinks that just because a game looks easy, it must be. The truth is, each of these hands is of sufficient strength to warrant play. And while you may have known that you must play any pair, you lack the strategic knowledge necessary to fully compete at this game, and in the not-so-long run that fact will ruin your bankroll.

Compared to other games, Caribbean Stud is tough for the simple fact that casinos have a relatively high edge: 5.26% on the ante bets, which reduces to about 2.5% when the call bets are taken into account. Of course these figures go right out the window unless the correct strategy is followed.

Before we get into the strategy for the games, let's take a look at some of the most common and costly mistakes made by the average Caribbean Stud player .Caribbean Stud Common Mistakes

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