Poker-Inspired Table Games: Caribbean Hold’em

When the great game of Texas Hold’em was starting to gain traction in the late 1990s, Stephen Au-Yeung was right there in the thick of it. An experienced Blackjack and poker player from Birmingham, England, Au-Yeung ran a poker game that drew some of the biggest card sharps of that era, including a certain gentleman named Dave Ulliott – you might remember him better as “The Devilfish.” It was Au-Yeung who gave him that nickname in 1997; Devilfish went on to become one of the most famous poker personalities of all-time, earning a World Series of Poker bracelet and knocking out Phil Ivey to win the first WPT World Poker Open in 2003.

Au-Yeung didn’t do too badly for himself, either. After applying the basic elements of poker to develop a training tool for Texas Hold’em, Au-Yeung kept working on his creation, and in 2000, he introduced Casino Hold’em – a new table game based on the “Cadillac of Poker.” RealTime Gaming would later put its own spin on things; Caribbean Hold’em is now one of the most popular Cafe Casino table games on the menu, thanks in no small part to the progressive jackpot that’s up for grabs. Here’s how you can get a piece of the action.

Rules and Odds of Winning

Even if you’re not familiar with Texas Hold’em, Caribbean Hold’em is a very easy game to play. After you place your Ante bet, you (the Player) and the Dealer each receive two cards from the standard 52-card deck – yours are face-up, and the dealer’s are face-down. Three more cards are dealt face-up in the middle of the table; these are “community” cards, meaning both you and the dealer will use them to complete your five-card poker hands. The goal is to make a stronger hand than the dealer, using the standard poker hand rankings as follows:

Royal Flush (As-Ks-Qs-Js-Ts)
Straight Flush (9c-8c-7c-6c-5c)
Four of a Kind (2s-2d-2h-2c-8s)
Full House (Qd-Qh-Qs-Ts-Td)
Flush (Ah-7h-4h-3h-2h)
Straight (7c-6d-5h-4c-3c)
Three of a Kind (3s-3d-3c-8h-4s)
Two Pair (As-Ad-8s-8c-4h)
Pair (9c-9h-Qd-Js-3c)
High Card (Kd-Ts-8h-4h-2c)

After you’ve received your two “hole” cards, if you like your chances of winning, hit the Raise button to double your bet; the dealer’s hole cards will be flipped over, and two more community cards will hit the table. Then the winning hand will be declared. Note that the dealer must have at least a pair of Fours in order for their hand to qualify – if they do, and you win, both your Ante bet and Raise bet get paid out at even money. If the Dealer doesn’t qualify and you win, your Ante bet pays out even money and your Raise bet is a push. Hands that end in a tie are graded as a push for both bets.

But what if you don’t like your chances after you receive your hole cards? Simply hit the Fold button and surrender your Ante bet. That’s all there is to Caribbean Hold’em – except for the progressive jackpot, which we’ll get to in a moment.

Caribbean Hold’em Strategy

Dedicated poker players spend years working on optimal strategies for Texas Hold’em. Fortunately, you don’t have to put in nearly as much work to master Caribbean Hold’em, although there are still some subtleties to take into consideration. We know from the probabilities and payouts that you should hit the Raise button 81.9% of the time to narrow the house edge for Caribbean Hold’em to the minimum possible, which is 3.09%. The tricky part is figuring out which hands fall into that 81.9% range.

Here’s an easy strategy that will get you very close to optimal play: If your hole cards don’t make a pair, they’re both lower in value than the first three community cards, and you don’t have either a straight or a flush draw (meaning you need just one of the remaining two community cards to complete your hand), then fold. Everything else is good enough to raise. This is only a near-optimal strategy, but it will get you almost all the possible return without having to spend countless hours working out how to get every last drop of value from your cards – which makes little sense when you should be playing table games for fun and entertainment.

How to Win the Progressive Jackpot

Speaking of fun and entertainment, how would you like to win one of those tasty jackpots? There’s a progressive jackpot shared between Caribbean Hold’em and its close cousin, Caribbean Stud Poker; winning the big one in either game will reset the jackpot to its seed amount and start it growing again. All you have to do to win is place a $1 side bet by tapping/clicking the big red button to the right of your game display. Payouts are based on your two hole cards and the first three community cards, regardless of whether you beat the dealer or not. Here’s what you can win:

Royal Flush: 100% of the jackpot
Straight Flush: 10%
Four of a Kind: $500
Full House: $100
Flush: $75

How to Win Jackpot Games

There’s more than one way to take down one of our generous Cafe Casino jackpots. Let ‘Em Ride is another poker-based card game where you can opt-in for the progressive jackpot by placing a $1 side bet. Or you can play the slots that have jackpots attached and win a random progressive at the end of any spin. Either way, you have a shot at winning life-changing money; just remember to keep it fun, and don’t try to chase down one of these giant jackpots as an investment scheme.

Now that you know all the ins and outs of Caribbean Hold’em, it’s time to hit the tables. You can try this game for free using the Practice mode, then give Real Money play a try once you’ve gotten in touch with your inner Devilfish. See you on the felt!