What Is Caribbean Holdem?
If you’ve ever tuned into a poker show on TV, you know what Texas holdem poker is like. But another variant, known as Caribbean Holdem, is increasing in popularity in casinos and online. Invented by poker expert Stephen Au-Yeung, Caribbean Holdem preserves the excitement of poker but is faster-moving and less mentally demanding than Texas holdem.
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How Does Caribbean Holdem Work?
Caribbean Holdem is meant to be played in a casino, so it’s also known as Casino Holdem. In most other poker variants, you’re betting against other players, but in Caribbean Holdem, your only goal is to beat the dealer. In this, Caribbean Holdem resembles blackjack, baccarat, and other casino card games.
To start a game of Caribbean Holdem, the dealer takes two facedown cards and deals two to each player. Players then make an ante bet, and may also make a side bet, known as the AA bet or progressive bet, based on how strong they expect their final hand to be.
The dealer then deals three faceup cards to the table. Each player must then decide whether to call by doubling their ante, or fold, losing the ante. If at least one player calls, the dealer deals two more faceup cards.
The remaining players then show their hole cards, and both players and the dealer try to make the best poker hand with their hole cards and the five cards on the table. The dealer’s hand must qualify according to a standard set by the casino. Some casinos require that the dealer have at least a pair of fours, others require an ace-king combination.
If the dealer does not qualify, players win even money on their ante bet and a push on the call bet. If the dealer qualifies but the player’s hand beats the dealer’s, the player gets even money back on the ante and a payoff on the call bet based on the strength of the winning hand. And if the dealer’s hand beats the player’s, all bets are lost.
The side bet is also paid off at this time, based on the strength of the player’s hand as rated on the casino’s pay table. A typical pay table ranges from 1:1 to a pair to 100:1 for a royal flush.
Caribbean Holdem Strategy
Caribbean Holdem doesn’t require many of the skills that other poker variants do. Trying to bluff the dealer or intimidate him with a large bet is a waste of time. So Caribbean Holdem strategy is based entirely on knowing when to call and when to fold.
Poker experts recommend calling in Caribbean Holdem if you have a pair or higher, or if your initial hand beats the dealer’s qualification requirement. You should fold only if your hole cards are low and you see no opportunity for a straight or flush draw.
Like all house games, however, the dealer in Caribbean Holdem has an edge that’s built into the pay table. So the most important part of Caribbean Holdem strategy is knowing when to take your winnings or cut your losses and walk away, because over time the house will always win.