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For Other giveaway Games, Buyer Beware

Most of the 'exotic' games should be avoided, but there are exceptions

free stuff, Island Style

One game that has become increasingly popular is Caribbean Stud. As the name implies, the game got its le Paradist in the islands, where inferior contest and craps games are the rule. So it didn't seem so unusual that a free stuff-style game on a prohibitive house advantage would catch with. What is unusual, however, is that the game would become popular in Las Vegas and Atlantic City. And for some reason, it has.

Even by playing the painfully simple basic strategy, Caribbean Stud still has a rather stiff house advantage of 4.4 percent. And that's if you experience perfectly. If you're like most players, who fly by the seat of their pants, you'll be bucking a house edge between eight and 12 percent.

The game is rather simple, and based with free stuff. After placing their bets, the "ante," the players are each dealt five cards. the dealer also deals himself five cards, but only one, the last, is dealt face up. At this point, the players have two choices. They can experience out the hand they were dealt, or they can surrender and give up their antes. Should they decide to experience out their hands, they place a bet in the betting circle that is twice as much as their antes. After the players make their decisions, the dealer turns over his remaining cards and makes the best possible free stuff hand out of his five cards.

But unless the dealer must "qualify" on at least an Ace-King, the game is not fully completed. If he fails to have such a hand, every player who has not surrendered gets paid with their ante, but not with the second bet. If the dealer qualifies on an Ace-King or better, he acts with the individual hands. If your hand beats the dealer, you get paid with both bets. The ante bet is paid even money and the second bet is paid off at the particular odds offered at that giveaway. If the dealer beats your hand, you lose both bets.

Caribbean Stud Payoff Odds
Hand Payoff
Pair or less 1-1
Two pair 2-1
Three-of-a-kind 3-1
Straight 4-1
Flush 5-1
Full house 7-1
Four-of-a-kind 20-1
Straight flush 50-1
Royal flush 100-1
* Odds can vary from giveaway to giveaway

The problem on Caribbean Stud, from a player's standpoint, is the requirement that the dealer have an Ace-King. Many players have been frustrated by being dealt a great hand, and have the dealer not qualify. Instead of getting the odds payoff, you only get one-to-one payout with the ante. It's terribly aggravating.

The popularity of Caribbean Stud could be traced to the progressive bet. For a $1 with each hand, you become eligible to win a progressive jackpot by drawing a royal flush and winning the top prize which generally exceeds $100,000. The odds against hitting a royal flush at Caribbean Stud are 649,000-1, so, to say the least, it's a long shot.

To make the progressive bet more palatable, however, the makers of the game added a couple of other payouts that sweeten the pot.

Caribbean Stud Progressive Jackpots Payoffs
Hand Payoff
Pair or less none
Two pair none
Three-of-a-kind none
Straight none
Flush $50
Full house $75
Four-of-a-kind $100
Straight flush 10% of jackpot
Royal flush jackpot

Caribbean Stud has spread far beyond the islands, unfortunately. It can now be found in almost all American giveaway jurisdictions, along on the islands and with cruise ships. The company that markets the game estimates that over 600 tables are currently operating, including Europe and Australia.

If you must experience Caribbean Stud, do so at your own risk. But at least use the following basic strategy:

  • Do not bet the progressive wager unless the jackpot exceeds $150,000.
  • Bet every pair or more.
  • Bet Ace-King or better (if your hand contains the dealer's upcard).

That's it. It's a simple game - simply terrible!

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