Caribbean Hold’em

Caribbean Hold’em PokerYou will learn everything there is to know about Caribbean Hold’em Poker in this page. Get to know the different rules and basic strategies that can help you play better at this popular casino poker variation, including the hand rankings and payouts. Get access to a great guide of online casinos that you can play Caribbean Hold’em at, with some highly recommended by OUSC and its experienced team.

Some Background

In the late 1990s a professional poker player named Stephen Au Yeung began exploring ways to teach his girlfriend how to play the poker variant known as Texas Hold’em.

Au Yeung eventually devised a simple lesson based on five community cards and two hole cards, and over time, his teaching tool blossomed into a hybrid table game known as Casino Hold’em, which has been commonly referred to as Caribbean Hold’em.

Today, Au Yeung is known professionally as Mr. Casino Games, and he serves as the CEO of his own online company, Among the numerous casino games credited to Au Yeung are Top Draw Blackjack, Rollette, and Action Hold’em.

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Game Becomes Popular

The game of Casino Hold’em was officially launched in 2000, but according to Au Yeung, it took another 10 years to fully catch on. Eventually, the game gained widespread popularity across the United States and across Europe, including nations like Holland, Latvia, Estonia, Ireland, Morocco, Malta, the Ukraine, and Romania, along with Egypt, Russia, South Africa, and Panama.

In addition, online casino software companies such as Net Entertainment (NetEnt), Real Time Gaming (RTG), Playtech, Gamesys, and Galewind Software have contracted with Au Yeung to develop internet based versions of Casino Hold’em.

Caribbean Hold’em Created

An offshoot of the game known as Caribbean Hold’em has also been developed by RTG, in which a single rule adjustment is made to differentiate the two. This page will cover both Casino Hold’em and Caribbean Hold’em unless otherwise stated, as both games are essentially the exact same. Aside from one change in the rules.

If you’ve ever played in a brick and mortar casino, or gambled online, chances are you’ve encountered either Casino Hold’em or Caribbean Hold’em at one point or another. If the game intrigued you and you’d like to learn more before buying in for real money, this page should be right up your alley. Here you’ll find a detailed walkthrough meant to introduce you to the rules and gameplay structure, including the available wagers, payouts, and side bets. Next up is a guide to locating both versions of the game, both live and online. The page concludes with a primer on proper strategy, so you won’t be flying blind when the time comes to play your cards correctly.

Rules and How to Play

Caribbean Hold’em plays in identical fashion to its predecessor, save one specific rule change which will be highlighted below. Other than that, though, all information found in this section applies to both versions of the game.

Casino & Caribbean Hold’em Overview

Caribbean Holdem Poker online tableUnder the usual table game layout, you’ll be sitting across from the dealer running the game, and depending on the venue, you may have up to two other players playing at the same table.

Most online versions of either game are one on one affairs, however, so you’ll be playing by yourself while wagering on one, two, or three separate hands.

Steps to Playing Caribbean Hold’em

#1: Cards are Dealt

The game begins after players place the mandatory Ante bet, at which point the dealer will distribute two cards face down to each player, along with two cards face down to themselves. The dealer will then place three cards face up along the felt, and these represent the first part of the “community” cards which can be used along with your hole cards to create a five-card poker hand.

Once you’ve received your two hole cards, and examined how they fit in with the three community cards on the board, the game’s player decision point occurs.

#2: Fold or Call

You can now decide between two options:

  • Fold: you simply forfeit the hand straight away and surrender your Ante bet.
  • Call: you must place an additional “Call” wager equal to exactly twice the amount of your original Ante bet.

#3: Last Cards Dealt

When you decide to call, the dealer will then add two more community cards to the table, making it five total. At this point, the dealer will reveal their two hole cards, along with your own. You’ll both form the best possible five-card poker hand, according to the rankings above, by combining one or both of your hole cards with the community cards on board.

#4: Dealer Hand

The dealer’s hand must be valued at one pair of 4s or better in order to qualify.

  • When the dealer doesn’t manage to qualify, then your Ante bet will be paid out according to the Ante Bet pay table (more to come below)*, while your Call bet will be returned as a push.
  • When the dealer does manage to qualify and beats your hand, you’ll lose both the Ante bet and the Call bet.
  • When the dealer does manage to qualify and produces an identical hand as yours, both your Ante and Call bets will be returned as a push.
  • When the dealer manages to qualify but you produce a superior hand, the Ante bet will be paid out according to the Ante Bet pay table, while the Call bet will be paid out at even money.

#5: Rule Difference

The only difference found in Caribbean Hold’em concerns the payouts when the dealer doesn’t qualify. In this game, the Ante bet only pays out at even money, and not according to the Ante Bet pay table, while the Call bet is returned as a push. This rule change adversely affects players, making Casino Hold’em the better bet for you over the long run.

Poker Hand Rankings

Caribbean Hold’em is a poker game, so if you’re not familiar with the traditional poker hand hierarchy, check out the rankings below to see how the hands stack up:

Royal Flush

Royal Flush

10-J-Q-K-A, all in the same suit.

Straight Flush

Straight Flush

Any five card straight (6-7-8-9-10), all in the same suit.

Four of a Kind

Four of a Kind

four of the same card rank.

Full House

Full House

Three of a Kind AND One Pair.



Any five cards all in the same suit.



Any string of five consecutive cards.

Three of a Kind

Three of a Kind

Three cards of the same rank.

Two Pair

Two Pair

Two sets of two cards of the same rank.

One Pair

One Pair

Two cards of the same rank.

High Card

High Card

Any hand that doesn’t have one of the hands listed above is ranked by the highest card in the hand, with Ace being highest, followed by King, Queen, Jack, 10, 9, 8, 7, 6, 5, 4, 3, and 2.

Ante Bet Payouts

The four most commonly found versions of the Ante Bet pay table can be reviewed below:

Royal Flush 20:1 25:1 100:1 100:1
Straight Flush 20:1 25:1 20:1 49:1
Four of a Kind 10:1 12:1 10:1 17:1
Full House 3:1 3:1 3:1 3:1
Flush 2:1 2:1 2:1 2:1
All Others 1:1 1:1 1:1 1:1

The most common pay table of the four is Table #3, which has been bolded for clarification.

AA+ Side Bet & Payouts

Finally, the only side bet available in these games is known as the AA+ side bet, which pays out based on the strength of your hand after the “flop,” or the first three community cards only.

The various pay tables for the AA+ side bet can be reviewed below:

Royal Flush 20:1 25:1 100:1
Straight Flush 25:1 50:1 50:1
Four of a Kind 25:1 40:1 40:1
Full House 25:1 30:1 30:1
Flush 25:1 20:1 20:1
Straight 7:1 7:1 10:1
Three of a Kind 7:1 7:1 8:1
Two Pair 7:1 7:1 7:1
Pair of Aces 7:1 7:1 7:1
HOUSE EDGE 6.40 Percent 6.26 Percent 2.97 Percent

Clearly, you want to avoid the higher house edge rates offered by Pay Tables #1 and #2 (found primarily in land-based casinos) for the AA+ side bet, while sticking to the lower house edge offered by Pay Table #3 (found on Gamesys powered online casinos).

Best Places to Play Caribbean Hold’em

Recommended iconThe original poker game can be found in brick and mortar casinos all over the world, so if you’re anywhere near a major casino resort or even a local tribal gaming establishment, you’re likely to find a table nearby.

When it comes to online play, Casino Hold’em can be accessed through several popular software platforms, including Net Entertainment (NetEnt), RealTime Gaming (RTG), Playtech, Gamesys, and Galewind Software. Caribbean Hold’em is an offshoot specifically created by RealTime Gaming.

Best Caribbean Hold’em Casinos

Other RealTime Gaming Casinos

The list below showcases many of the other popular and reputable RTG powered online casinos out there today. Caribbean Hold’em can be found on these platforms. One downside is that Caribbean Hold’em can only be played on one an RTG powered online casino.

A search for RTG casinos will produce hundreds of client casinos, so be sure to limit your real money action exclusively to these safe, trusted venues:

  • Intertops
  • Jackpot Capital
  • Lucky Red Casino
  • Manhattan Slots
  • Silver Oak Casino
  • Slotocash Casino
  • Uptown Aces Casino

Strategic Considerations for Caribbean Hold’em

Betting Strategy iconPinning down the exact optimal strategy for Caribbean Hold’em is a complex pursuit, as the game creates so many possibilities in terms of your hand relative to the dealer’s holding.

For the most part, however, you can follow a simple set of guidelines to keep themselves as close to optimal strategy as possible, without overwhelming yourself or memorizing a long list of rules.

Basic Strategy

The basic strategy for Caribbean Hold’em breaks down as follows:

  • Always call when holding one pair or better
  • Always call when holding ace high or king high
  • Call when holding queen high or jack high – unless the board contains cards all of the same suit and you don’t hold any cards in that suit
  • Always call when holding a four card flush draw or a four card straight draw
  • Always call when holding two overcards (two cards which both rank higher than the highest card on the board)
  • Always fold when the board is paired and you have no cards that match the board, or no cards higher than a 10 – unless you have a four card flush draw or a four card flush draw
  • Always fold when you hold unpaired low cards that don’t match the board and create no flush draw or straight draw

When using this basic strategy, you should expect to be folding about 18 percent of your hands, and call on the other 82 percent.

Play with the Best Pay Table

Another point of strategic importance to keep in mind concerns the various pay tables used in the game. The most commonly used pay table (Pay Table # 3) offers a house edge of 2.16 percent, but you can find alternative pay tables which offer lower or higher house edges.

Pay Table #2 in the chart above actually lowers the house edge against you to just 1.96 percent, while Pay Table # 1 hikes the rate to 2.40 percent. Knowing how to spot these pay table discrepancies and avoiding those with the higher house edges is a critical strategic element for Caribbean Hold’em.

Michael Shackleford over at the Wizard of Odds breaks down the various pay tables and their house edge rates on his Caribbean Hold’em page.

OUSC Recommendation

The name of the game when it comes to employing sound strategy in this game is to stick to Casino Hold’em over Caribbean Hold’em whenever possible. After that, do your best to shop around for the best possible pay table, as this seemingly small difference can add up to huge savings over the long run.