There are quite a few table games based on poker, but most of these games are based on 5-Card Draw. Not a lot of people play that game anymore. They’re playing Texas Hold’em for the most part, so how about a table game version? Here it is: Caribbean Hold’em. This game was first devised in the late 1990s, and today, you can find it at casinos worldwide, including online at Bovada Casino.
If you find regular Hold’em too intimidating, Caribbean Hold’em should be right up your alley. Not only are the rules and strategy simpler, there’s also a massive $112,000 progressive jackpot (shared between this game and Caribbean Stud Poker) waiting to be won at press time. Here’s how you can get in on the action.
How to Play Caribbean Hold’Em
The goal of Caribbean Hold’em is to get a better poker hand than the dealer, who must have at least a pair of Fours to qualify. If you’re unfamiliar with Texas Hold’Em poker hands, see below for the full range included in this table game version.
Royal Flush: Ace, King, Queen, Jack, Ten—suited
Straight Flush: Five cards of consecutive rank—suited
4 of a Kind: 4 cards of the same rank
Full House: 3 of a Kind and a Pair
Flush: Any five cards suited
Straight: Five cards of consecutive rank
3 of a Kind: Three cards of the same rank
2 Pair: Two sets of two cards of matching ranks
1 Pair: Two cards of the same rank
High Card: When you don’t land any of the above hands, your highest card is assessed
Now that you know how each hand ranks, it’s time to learn how to play Caribbean Hold’Em, using a simple two-set guide.
Step 1: After placing an Ante bet (between $1 and $500 at Bovada), hit “Deal” to get two cards face-up. The Dealer gets two cards face-down, and three community cards are placed face-up on the board. The community cards are for both you and the Dealer to use.
Step 2: Assess your hand against the flop. If you want to continue the round, hit the “Raise” button, which will put a second bet on the board that’s double your Ante. At this point, the Dealer’s cards are turned over, and the remaining two community cards are dealt. The winner is declared.
If you don’t want to continue the round, hit Fold instead of Raise. You’ll forfeit your Ante and end the round. As a teaser, you’ll still get to see how the round would have panned out had you raised instead.
Caribbean Hold’Em Rules
The Caribbean Hold’Em Dealer may be automated, but that doesn’t mean he goes in for every hand. In order for the Dealer to take part in the round (qualify), he must have at least a pair of Fours—something you won’t know until the end of the round. The Dealer qualifying affects your payouts in the following three ways:
1) Dealer doesn’t qualify.
Anytime the Dealer doesn’t qualify, you automatically win—even if your hand is weaker. You’ll be paid even-money on your Ante bet only. Your Raise is returned to you as a push.
2) Dealer qualifies, and you win
This happens when Dealer has a pair of Fours or better, but you have a stronger hand. In this case, you win your Ante and Raise bets.
3) Dealer qualifies, and you lose.
When the Dealer beats you with at least a pair of Fours, you lose your Ante and Raise bets.
Caribbean Hold’Em Payouts
Knowing how each outcome pays is the first step to understanding how Caribbean Hold’Em works, but we still have to cover how much these bets pay. There are unique payouts for the Ante and Raise, so we’ll go through them individually.
Ante Bet Payouts
There are two potential payouts for the Ante bet: one for when the Dealer qualifies and one for when he doesn’t. When the Dealer qualifies, the Ante payout depends on the strength of your hand, as illustrated in the list below. However, if the Dealer doesn’t qualify, it doesn’t matter how strong your hand is, you’re always paid even-money. You’ll only notice this when you get a flush higher.
Ante Payouts (Dealer Must Qualify):
Royal Flush 100:1
Straight Flush 20:1
4 of a Kind 10:1
Full House 3:1
Straight, 3 of a Kind, 2 Pairs, 1 Pair, High Card, Call Payout 1:1
Raise Bet Payouts
Unlike the Ante bet, the payouts for Raise bets don’t depend on the strength of your hand; they always award even-money. You only get paid for your Raise when the Dealer qualifies. When he doesn’t, your Raise is returned as a push.
Caribbean Hold’Em Strategy
There isn’t a universal optimal strategy for Caribbean Hold’em, but you can improve your odds of winning by folding anytime you’re dealt two unconnected cards that miss when the flop is revealed; that is, you don’t have a Pair or a draw to a straight or flush, and your hole cards are lower in value than the community cards. For example, if you land a 9d4s, and the flop is a Jh2dAc, you haven’t connected with anything and should therefore fold. This should result in you folding close to 20% of your hands.
Caribbean Hold’Em Poker Side Bets
Caribbean Hold’Em has one side bet: the progressive jackpot. Qualifying for the progressive jackpot will cost you $1 per round, which you bet by tapping the red button to the right of the screen. Once qualified, you win the side bet if you get a flush or better.
To win the entire pot, you must have a Royal Flush using your two hole cards and the three cards on the flop. In order to win a portion of the pot, you need to make any of the following four hands:
A Straight Flush: 10% of the jackpot
4 of a Kind: $500
Caribbean Hold’em is you versus the dealer, best poker hand wins – the Dealer must have at least a pair of Fours to qualify. After you place your Ante, you get two cards face-up, the Dealer gets two cards face-down, and three community cards (the “flop”) are dealt face-up. If you like your hand, hit the Raise button to match your Ante bet. The Dealer’s cards are turned over, the remaining two community cards are dealt, and the winner is declared. If you don’t like your hand, hit Fold instead and move on. Payouts go up depending on the strength of your winning hand.
To qualify for the progressive jackpot in Caribbean Hold’em, make your side bet of $1 by clicking the shiny red button to the right of the screen. If you make a Royal Flush using your two hole cards and the three cards on the flop, you win the jackpot. A Straight Flush will earn you 10% of the jackpot, and you’ll receive fixed prize amounts if you make Four of a Kind ($500), a Full House ($100) or a Flush ($75).
There isn’t a simple optimal strategy for Caribbean Hold’em, but you can get close by folding anytime you have two bare undercards to the flop; that is, you don’t have a Pair or a draw to a made hand, and your hole cards are lower in value than the community cards. Think you’ve got what it takes? Give Caribbean Hold’em a try at Bovada, and we’ll see you on the felt.