Caribbean Poker is not really a proper poker game; it's an American casino card game where the player tries to beat the house. It combines certain features of poker play as well as the progressive jackpot often seen in slot machines.
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This is a fun game to play, and fairly easy to learn, but players should be aware that like all casino table games, the house has a distinct advantage.
The game is played with 1-7 players around a half-circular table. In front of each seat are two betting circles, marked Ante and Call . There is also a small coin slot for making a special progressive bet.
In Caribbean Poker, each player will make a small wager, called the “ante” in the betting circle of the same name – this can range from $5.00 on up; then the dealer will give each player, and themselves, a hand of 5 cards. The first card is dealt face-up; the remaining cards are dealt facedown.
Along with your ante bet, players are encouraged to place a coin (usually a $1 wager) into the little slot in front of the betting circles. This coin goes towards increasing the progressive jackpot, usually shown on a lighted display at the table. This jackpot can range from hundreds to thousands of dollars, and is paid out when a player hits a certain big hand (usually the Royal Flush.) This is an optional bet, you don't have to make it if you don't want to.
Now, each player will look at their hand. Here is a table of the normal poker hands.
10-J-Q-K-A - all of the same suit.
6-7-8-9-10 - five cards in sequence, all of the same suit.
|Four of a Kind:
3-3-3-3-6 - four cards of the same number.
2-2-2-5-5 - three cards of one number and two cards of another number.
6-Q-5-10-J - five cards all of the same suit.
3-4-5-6-7 - five cards in sequence of any suit.
|Three of a Kind:
8-8-8-J-10 - three cards of the same number and two unmatched cards.
9-9-5-J-J – two cards of one number and two cards of another number.
8-8-J-3-5 – One pair of cards.
High Card: A-K-6-J-2 – Your highest cards. This hand would beat A-K-T-9-4, because the Ace and King cancel out, and your Jack is higher than the dealer's Ten.
Note that all hands shown above are just examples, and that to be a winner, your hand must be higher than the dealer's hand; for example, if you have a pair of 9's and the dealer has a pair of 8's, you would win.
If you have bad cards, for example, a trash hand without even a high card; like 3-5-6-9-2 you have the option to surrender. In this case, you lose your ante bet, but that's all.
But let's say you have a good hand, 3-3-3-5-6, and you want to keep playing; so you must make another bet in the Call circle. This bet is exactly twice your ante bet. So, if your ante was one $5 chip, put 2 more $5 chips in the Call circle to keep playing.
Now there is a showdown. You show the dealer your cards, and they show you theirs. The dealer must have A-K or better to play! This is very important; if the dealer has a trash hand, like 3-J-6-9-Q, the dealer will pay you 1-to-1 on your ante bet, push your call bet back to you, and that's it.
However, if the dealer has a hand of A-K or better, then they will compare hands with each player to see who wins and loses. Let's say there are 2 other players at our table.
Remember, our cards were: 3-3-3-5-6. Now we see everyone's cards in the showdown.
Well, here's what will happen. The dealer can play because their hand is better than A-K; they have a pair of Queens . Those Queens beat Player #2's pair of Jacks, so the dealer takes that player's bets. Now, the dealer and Player #1 have an exact tie; so it's called a “push” and the dealer just pushes that player's bets back to him. Now, we have 3-of-a-kind, so the dealer pays us according to the table below: 1-to-1 for our ante ($5) and 3-to-1 for our call bet ($30.)
|Natural Royal Flush||1-to-1||100-to-1|
|Four of a Kind||1-to-1||20-to-1|
|Three of a Kind||1-to-1||3-to-1|
Now, like almost every casino game, Caribbean Poker is a game of negative expectations. That means that over time, you will lose money to the casino.
Here's why. Let's consider the same hand we won earlier, 3-of-a-kind. The basic odds of getting dealt this hand in 5 cards is 10.8% What that means is that a little less than 11% of the time, we'll be dealt that hand.
But, even in the best case, our odds are about 1-to-11. The casino pays us at a rate of 1-to-3, which means over time, we're destined to lose. Let me show you what I mean.
Let's say that you have $1500.00 and you're betting $15.00 per hand ($5 ante, $10 call bet.) This is enough to bet for 100 hands. We know the odds of you getting 3-of-a-kind are 11%, so out of those 100 hands you should get eleven 3-of-a-kinds. Now, since the payoff is 3-to-1, that means you'll win $385.00 (11 x 3 x $10 call + 11 x 1x $5 ante ) off just those 11 hands. But you will have spent a total of $1500.00 to win $385.00… And that's how the casino can afford to give you all those flashing lights and free drinks.
Now, the casino probably won't really make a whole $1115.00 off you, because out of those hundred hands, you're going to get some other good cards besides your 3-of-a-kind; some straights, flushes, maybe a 4-of-a-kind. But regardless, the payoff will have been calculated to ensure that you lose money over time.
Just to illustrate my point, if Caribbean Poker was going to allow you to win money consistently, the payoff on that 3-of-a-kind would have to be at least 11-to-1.
Let's review. We now know how to play Caribbean Poker game, and are aware that all video poker games are negative expectation ; that is, if we play for long enough, the house will always win.
However, we've seen that by strategically choosing when to surrender and when to bet, we can improve our odds of making money in the short run.
And that's the big key; we're going to try to make our money quickly in Caribbean Poker ; once we've hit one big hand, or several mid-sized ones, we probably want to walk away from the table with bulging pockets.
Otherwise, statistics tell us that we'll end up losing it all back and paying the casino for those “free” drinks.
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