How to Play Caribbean Holdem: Rules, Strategy & Odds
Caribbean Holdem is a perfect mix of Caribbean Stud and Texas Holdem. Like its Holdem poker cousin, players are given 2 hole cards and eventually five community cards with which to develop the best 5-card poker hand. However, similar to Caribbean Stud, players are not subject to the competition of a full table of players to compete against, instead pitting their own hand strength against only the hand of the dealer.
Another similarity between Caribbean Stud and Caribbean Holdem is the typical inclusion of a progressive jackpot. Players are given the option to make a bonus side bet before each hand begins. This bet is based solely on the strength of the player’s final hand, and has nothing to do with whether or not they win the standard Caribbean Holdem hand against the dealer. It is possible to lose the regular hand, but still win the side bet, often times worth thousands of dollars.
Let’s start by detailing the traditional gameplay, and talk more about the optional side bet later.
Players are required to make an Ante bet at the beginning of the game, before any cards are dealt. After placing this bet, 2 hole cards are given to each player. Three community cards are then placed face up in the center of the table. These cards are the first of five community cards to be combined with each player’s two hole cards to make up their final poker hand.
After each player examines the community cards and their own hole cards, they must then decide whether they want to fold their hand, forfeiting the ante bet, or continue with the hand by placing a Raise bet. The raise must be equal to 2x the original ante bet.
The dealer will then place two more community cards face up on the table. Players who chose to raise and continue the hand will now have 7 cards to work with (2 hole cards + 5 community cards) to develop the highest possible 5 card poker hands.
At this point, the hand is complete and one of three things can happen, depending on whether the dealer’s hand qualifies to play. The dealer must have at least a pair of 4’s or better in order to qualify.
- If the dealer’s hand does not qualify with a pair of 4’s or better, the player’s raise bet is returned to them as a push, but the ante bet is paid 1 to 1 even money.
- If the dealer’s hand does qualify and the player’s hand is stronger, the Raise bet is paid 1 to 1, even money, and the Ante bet is paid according to the Ante-Win Pay Table below. (Note: In Caribbean Stud, the payouts are opposite, paying the Ante 1 to 1 and the Raise according to a similar pay table.)
- If the dealer’s hand qualifies and beats the player’s hand, both the ante and raise bets are lost.
Caribbean Holdem Ante-Win Pay Table
- Royal Flush Pays 100 to 1
- Straight Flush Pays 20 to 1
- Four of a Kind Pays 10 to 1
- Full House Pays 3 to 1
- Flush Pays 2 to 1
- Straight Pays 1 to 1
- Three of a Kind Pays 1 to 1
- Two Pair Pays 1 to 1
- One Pair Pays 1 to 1
Caribbean Holdem Poker Progressive Side Bet
Most Caribbean Holdem games carry a progressive jackpot that can only be won by placing a bonus side bet. The amount of the bet is generally restricted to $1. A player must achieve a specific hand strength for this bet to win. It is not necessary to win the standard hand against the dealer to win the side bet, but the player must not fold their hand during standard play or the side bet is forfeit as well. The payouts for a winning side bet are as follows. Note that the pay table may vary from one live or online casino to the next.
- Royal Flush Pays 100% of the Progressive Jackpot
- Straight Flush Pays 10% of the Progressive Jackpot
- Four of a Kind Pays $500
- Full House Pays $100
- Flush Pays $50