When the poker wizards (maybe David Sklansky, maybe not) invented Caribbean Stud Poker in the 1980s, they based it on 5-card stud poker. Stud was still the most popular way to play poker at the time, albeit with seven cards, so when this new table game started popping up on cruise ships, it proved to be a hit. Naturally, as the poker world turned its attention to Texas Hold’em in the late ‘90s, we needed a table-game version – and Stephen Au-Yeung delivered with Caribbean Hold’em.

These two table games have many similarities, including a shared progressive jackpot here at Bodog that has grown all the way to $103,000 at press time. The gameplay is simple: Place your Ante bet (and your progressive side bet, if you want), receive your cards, then either Raise and double your bet, or Fold and surrender your Ante. But what are the differences between these two games?

Community Cards

Just like standard poker games, Caribbean Stud Poker is a “draw” game, although no draw actually takes place in this simplified version. You and the Dealer each receive five cards, and if you decide to Raise and go to showdown, whoever has the better poker hand wins (the Dealer needs at least Queen-high to qualify). Caribbean Hold’em, on the other hand, is a “flop” game that features five community cards. You and the Dealer receive two cards each, then the first three community cards are dealt, and you make your Raise/Fold decision before the final two cards are revealed. Any or all of the five community cards can be used to make your poker hand, just like regular Hold’em.


In both Caribbean Stud Poker and Caribbean Hold’em, you get paid out more when you have a stronger hand, with the Royal Flush being the strongest hand of them all. However, since it’s harder to make these big hands with just five cards instead of seven, the payouts in Caribbean Stud Poker are higher. For example, hitting your Royal in Caribbean Hold’em will pay out at 100:1 (along with the full jackpot, if you made that side bet), while the same hand in Caribbean Stud Poker is worth 200:1.

Optimal Strategy

Stud games are generally considered easier to play than flop games, with relatively simple strategies to consider. In Caribbean Stud Poker, you can get very close to optimal by Raising any pair and Folding anything worse than Ace-King, then mixing up AK as you see fit. Caribbean Hold’em is harder to pin down, but we do know this: Raising 82% of the time is optimal. If you Fold any two unpaired low cards to the flop, you’ll be in good shape. Imagine if regular Hold’em were that easy.