How to Play Caribbean Hold’em

Caribbean Holdem LogoTexas Hold’em has often been referred to as the Cadillac of Poker, and if that’s true, Caribbean Hold’em Poker is definitely a hybrid model.

The game combines the two card hands and the use of five community cards that make Texas Hold’em such a challenge; while incorporating the one on one element of other table games like blackjack and baccarat.

The result is an action-packed game that comes at you fast and furious, and one that also requires strategic analysis and card sense to make the proper decision on each hand.

For a visual look at what real money Caribbean Hold’em poker is all about, take a look at Bovada Casino’s game page to see how the game functions in a legitimate online casino.

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Learn More About Caribbean Hold’em

Caribbean Poker Variations

Caribbean Hold’em (or Caribbean Holdem) Poker is one of the three Caribbean inspired table games that have captivated the attention of gaming enthusiasts around the world during the last decade.

By pitting the player against the house, in the form of a lone dealer, the game resembles blackjack in many ways, but from the first time a flop falls, you’ll definitely know you’re playing Hold’em.

However, instead of taking your chances against eight other opponents at a proper poker table, and playing against the card sharks and pros waiting to devour your chip stack if you make a mistake, Caribbean Hold’em Poker offers limited betting (and thus limited risk), along with only one opponent to beat in the dealer.

Small Bets – Big Wins

Fans of Caribbean Hold’em Poker also love the prospect of placing a small side bet on the progressive jackpot, hoping to turn a measly $1 into thousands more, just by completing a huge hand like a straight flush or Royal Flush.

The idea that your Caribbean Holdem strategy can help you bet small and win large is a big part of this game’s appeal because even when you don’t dabble on the progressive jackpot, your basic ante bet can reap large returns when you make big hands against the dealer’s qualifying hand.

Gameplay and Mechanics to Help You Win

To learn more about the gameplay and mechanics involved in a session of Caribbean Hold’em, look no further. This detailed guide was designed to turn novices into know it alls in just a few minutes, by teaching you the rules of Caribbean Hold’em Poker, walking you through example hands and covering all of the possible scenarios you may encounter along the way, and successfully teaching you how to play Caribbean Hold’em Poker.

Proper Strategy

Finally, once you’ve brushed up on the rules of Caribbean Poker, you’ll find a strategy section containing useful Caribbean Hold’em Poker tips for players trying to decrease the house edge and play the game profitably.

How to Play Caribbean Hold’em Poker

When you begin a game of Caribbean Hold’em, you’ll probably feel like you’re sitting at a blackjack table. The layout is very similar, as you’ll see betting squares in front of your area, along with spaces for your hand, the dealer’s hand, and the community cards.

1. Placing an Ante Bet

The game begins when you place a mandatory ante bet, and this can be any amount you choose depending on your bankroll limitations. Many players enjoy Caribbean Hold’em Poker for just $1 per hand, while others like to bump the action up to $5 or $10 per hand or even more.

2. Dealing the Cards

After you’ve made the ante wager, an action performed by simply clicking the chip amounts you’d like to bet, clicking deal will cause the dealer to distribute two cards face up to form your hand, and two cards face down to form their own hand.

3. Check if you Won Against the Dealer

Finally, the dealer will place three cards face up in the middle of the table, and just like traditional Texas Hold’em Poker, these crucial community cards are known as the flop.

Winning at Caribbean Hold’em

The objective of Caribbean Hold’em Poker is to form the best five-card poker hand, by combining either one or both of your two hole cards with the community cards on board. For example, if you ante up and are dealt an ace and king, while the flop comes down queen jack-ten, this five-card combination gives you the Broadway straight.

A more likely scenario, however, would see you receive something like a queen and ten, with one more ten arriving on the flop. In this case, you’ve made a pair of tens at minimum, with the chance to improve your hand on the arrival of the next two community cards.

Caribbean Hold'em Poker

Those two cards can only hit the felt in certain conditions though, and this forms the basis of Caribbean Hold’em Poker as a game of practice and strategy.

After you ante up and take a look at your two hole cards, along with the flop, the time has come for you to make a choice: you can either fold (when your two cards fail to connect with the flop) while surrendering your ante bet, or you can call and see the next two community cards. In order to call, you must place an additional wager equal to exactly twice the amount of your ante bet.

So, if you’ve decided on an ante bet of $5, and you like the look of your hand after the flop, calling to play the hand out will cost you $10 more for a total wager of $15. On the other hand, if your hole cards are marginal and you’d rather move on to the next hand, folding and surrendering simply costs you the ante bet.

Calling & Folding

You’ll be calling more often than folding in this game (see the strategy section below for guidelines on how to make this decision correctly), and when you do, the dealer will place two more cards face up along with the flop. At this point, the hand is fully dealt, and your best five card poker hand is compared with the dealers to determine the winner.

The standard poker hand hierarchy is in place, so one pair beats ace high, two pair beats one pair, three of a kind beats two pairs, and so on.

Proper Caribbean Hold’em Poker Strategy

As is true with most table games, one of the biggest strategic elements you can rely on is basic discipline.

Caribbean Hold’em Side Bets

You’ll undoubtedly want to try out the progressive jackpot side bet, especially with a running banner displaying the jackpot amount as it inches higher. And while these bets can be a fun diversion on occasion, winning at Caribbean Hold’em Poker requires you to avoid this bet whenever possible.

Below you will find in-depth information on Caribbean Hold’em sidebets.

Folding When Necessary

You’ll stay on the right side of variance simply by making the most logical choice given the five cards exposed on the felt. By comparing your two hole cards to the flop, and assessing the relative strength of your holding, you should be able to fold when situations are unfavorable to you.

Players who lose consistently at Caribbean Hold’em Poker simply play every hand they’re dealt while refusing to fold, but statistical analysis has shown that winning players are folding around 19 percent of their hands. This means roughly one hand out of every five you see should be folded. The key is deciding which four hands to keep.

Practice Before Playing

One useful resource to practice for a Caribbean Hold’em Poker session is this hand strength calculator. By plugging in any two card hand you’re interested in, along with various three card flops, the tool will spit back accurate data on your expected value should you choose to fold or to call.

After an hour or so using this calculator, you’ll likely see your innate card sense suddenly improve, because you’ll encounter situations that you’ve played before.

Caribbean Hold’em Poker Side Bets

The key Caribbean Hold’em Poker side bet is the progressive side bet, which is a feature in RTG casinos. Players might encounter other side bets when playing similar games like Casino Hold’em or Ultimate Texas Hold’em, so we’ll discuss those under the Caribbean Hold’em poker side bets listed below. Adding a progressive side bet changes the basic Caribbean Hold’em strategy. When you study Hold’em Poker tips, stick to pages which discuss RealTime Gaming’s Caribbean Hold’em Poker strategy specifically.

Also, keep in mind that progressive side bets change Hold’em Poker odds from 2.16% to 6%. The house edge remains a comparable or better than most games with progressive jackpots or lottery-style payouts.

Caribbean Hold’em Poker Sidebets

  • Progressive Side Bet: RTG casinos feature Caribbean Hold’em Poker and Caribbean Stud Poker, which share the same progressive jackpots. Lynton Limited casinos such as Bovada,, and Ignition Casino have had jackpots as high as $127,000, while some Caribbean Hold’em jackpots are as high as $129,000.
  • Casino Hold’em Side Bet: In casinos that don’t use RealTime Gaming software, you’ll find a fixed jackpot side bet which pays 100:1 the original wager for a royal flush. Other 5-card hands of a pair-or-better have payouts, too.
  • Ultimate Texas Hold’em Side Bet: Ultimate Texas Hold’em was invented by Roger Snow of Shufflemaster and is found in Bally Technologies casinos. The Ultimate Texas Holdem side bet has a fixed jackpot of 500x the bet for a royal flush, plus payouts for a straight-or-better.
  • Heads’Up Holdem Side Bet: Heads’up Holdem is a table game found in Galaxy Gaming casinos. Its side bet is quite similar to the Ultimate Texas Hold’em sidebet, with a 500x payout for a royal flush.
  • Poker Pursuit: Poker Pursuit is a variation of Caribbean Hold’em Poker played at Microgaming casinos, such as Betway Casino. Poker Pursuit plays like Caribbean Hold’em Poker, but has a fixed jackpot side bet which pays 1000:1 for the royal flush.
  • Live Casino Hold’em Side Bet: Golden Nugget Online Casino in the New Jersey gaming market just launched Live Casino Hold’em. The payout table for the side bet is the same as online Casino Hold’em, with 100:1 on the royal flush.

As you can see, the progressive side bet on Caribbean Hold’em Poker is far more rewarding than fixed payouts on the other versions of the game. For Caribbean Hold’em Poker, players will be interested to know that the side bet also pays for a straight flush, 4 of a kind, full house, flush, and straight. Here is the full list of Caribbean Holdem Poker payouts.

Caribbean Holdem Poker Payouts

The dealer’s hand must rank at a pair of fours or better to qualify in Caribbean Hold’em Poker. Knowing what makes a qualifying hand is essential in this game because your call bet and the associated bonus is only paid out when you beat a qualifying dealer’s hand.

For example, when you make a flush but the dealer only produces a pair of threes or any hand lower than a pair of fours, your ante bet will be paid out at 1 to 1, but the additional call bet is simply returned to you as a push. In this scenario, you would have been entitled to the 2 to 1 bonus payout on your ante bet for making a flush, but since the dealer did not qualify, your ante bet would be paid at 1 to 1 instead.

When your hand beats the dealer’s non-qualifying hand, ante bets are always paid out at 1 to 1, but ante bets can produce bonus payouts when you make big hands against a dealer’s qualifying hand.

The table below illustrates the bonus payouts for Caribbean Hold’em:

Hand Rank Description Raise Odds
Royal Flush A, K, Q, J, 10 of same suit 100:1
Straight Flush 5 cards of the same suit in sequence 20:1
4 of a Kind 4 cards of same rank 10:1
Full House 3 of a Kind, plus a pair 3:1
Flush 5 cards of same suit 2:1
Straight 5 cards in sequence, mixed suits 1:1
3 of a Kind 3 cards of same rank 1:1
Two pair 2 pairs of different rank 1:1
One pair 1 pair (2 cards) of same rank 1:1
High card 3 cards of same rank 1:1

Here are the Caribbean Hold’em Poker Payouts for regular hands:

Hand Payout Odds to Get Hand
Royal Flush 100% of Progressive 0.0001% Chance
Straight Flush 10% of Progressive 0.0008% Chance
Four of a Kind $100, $150, or $500 0.014% Chance
Full House $75, $100, or $150 0.08% Chance
Flush $50 or $75 0.11% Change
Straight or Less No Payout 76% Chance


Caribbean Hold’em Poker Rules

Caribbean Hold’em poker rules are easy to learn. Playing a hand is straightforward, with several of the complicated parts of Texas Hold’em eliminated: bluffing opponents, reading opponents, calculating pot odds, or making the turn and river bets. Because the game is a simplified version of Texas Holdem, players quickly learn the rules and can focus on Caribbean Hold’em strategy. Absorb the rules below, the start to work on the Caribbean Hold’em tips and strategies that will help you optimize your Hold’em Poker odds.

Basic Rules of Caribbean Hold’em Poker

  1. Ante Bet: A new hand of Caribbean Hold’em Poker begins with an ante wager. Place this in the circle marked “Ante”.
  2. Progressive Side Bet: The player also decides to make the progressive side bet or not. This is a blind bet, with no knowledge of your hand.
  3. The Deal: The player and the dealer each receive two hole cards. Next, the dealer deals out 3 community cards — the flop.
  4. Call Bet: After the flop, the player must decide to make the call bet or not. The call bet must be two times the ante bet. If this bet isn’t made, the player loses the ante bet.
  5. Turn & River: Next, the dealer deals out two more community cards, which would be called the turn and river cards in Texas Hold’em.
  6. Best 5-Card Hand: Using your two hole cards and the five community cards, you must make the best 5-card hand. The dealer does the same.
  7. Dealer Qualifies: Before hands are compared, the dealer must qualify. To do this, the dealer must have a pair of 4s or better. If the dealer fails to qualify, the player wins 1:1 on the ante bet. The call bet is a push.
  8. Winnings Paid: If the dealer qualifies, then the hands are compared. If the dealer wins, the player loses the ante and call bets. If the player wins, he or she wins according to the ante bet pay table, while winning 1:1 on the call bet.
  9. Progressive Payouts: If the player wins according to the progressive side bet’s payout table, these winnings are paid to the player.

Best Places to Play Caribbean Hold’em Poker Online

The only way to play Caribbean Hold’em Poker are sites which use RealTime Gaming software. International casino gamblers might or might not have access to RTG casinos, so they should find the best places to play Casino Hold’em Poker online if that isn’t the case. For that reason, I include the best online casinos (for US and Non-US players) below, as well as one site which is available for players inside the United States and in the global online casino market.

Bovada: Best US Online Casino for Caribbean Hold’em Poker

Bovada uses RTG software, so you can play online Caribbean Hold’em Poker by placing bets between $1 and $500. The Caribbean Hold’em progressive side bet at Bovada Casino right now is $128,000, but it will continue to climb until a lucky player wins it. New players at Bovada Casino receive their choice between a $3,000 deposit bonus or a $5,000 bitcoin bonus.

Betway: Best Online Casino Hold’em Poker for Non-US Players

Betway Casino offers Poker Pursuit, which is Caribbean Hold’em Poker with a side bet that pays 1000:1 for the top card combination. Betway Casino also has Triple Pocket Hold’em Poker, which uses Texas Hold’em rules but does not have a progressive jackpot. Instead, you can ask for a re-deal twice (like draw poker), giving you 3 hands against the dealer’s two hands.

Betway has dedicated gaming sites facing various countries around the world, so the bet limits vary according to your country of residence. Poker Pursuit has a bet minimum as low as £1 or even 50p in some locations, while the bet maximum is £500. Betway Casino has a £1,000 deposit bonus for new players.

BetOnline: Best Online Caribbean Hold’em Poker for Non-US Players

BetOnline Casino is the rare bird which is available for US players and international players alike. BetOnline’s Caribbean Poker is supplied by Betsoft, so it is similar to the games described above but has no side bet at all. The betting range on this game is $1 and $250. Players who want a side bet might consider BetOnline’s Caribbean Stud Poker, which includes a 100:1 payout for the top hand. BetOnline Casino has a welcome bonus between $20 and $1000 which can be spread across your first 3 deposits.