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Players Can Simplify Caribbean Draw Poker Strategy

27 June 2000

Caribbean Draw Poker can be about as complex or as simple as you like. You'll be better than most players if you never fold and follow the basic drawing strategy devised by analyst Howard Stern that was published in this column two weeks ago.

Playing at expert level requires more effort, with dozens of exceptions to this basic strategy rule for drawing to hands with no pairs: Hold any of the following, listed in order of preference: four-card royal flush, four-card straight flush, four-card straight, four-card open-ended straight, three-card royal, three-card straight flush - including inside and double-inside draws - three-card flush or four-card inside straight. Otherwise, hold your three highest cards.

We covered most of the exceptions last week. Here are the remainder, again with thanks to Stern:

With Queen-Jack-10 hands, do not play 10-8-7 or 10-7-6 double inside straight flushes. Queen-Jack-low is the only playable three-card flush.

On Queen-Jack-9 hands, do not play 9-8-low, Jack-low-low or 9-low-low three-card flushes.

With Queen-10-9-8 and a low card, the only playable double-inside straight flushes are Queen-10-8 and Queen-9-8, and the only playable three-card flush is Queen-10-low.

With Queen-10-9 and two low cards, three-card flushes are not playable.

With Jack-10-9 and two low cards, Jack-10-low and Jack-9-low are the only playable three-card flushes.

With Jack-10-8 and two low cards, do not play 8-high three-card flushes.

With Jack-9-8 and two low cards, the Jack-low-low three-card flush is stronger than a 9-8-6-5 inside straight. Four-card inside straights are stronger than 9- or 8-high three-card flushes.

With 10-9-8 and two low cards, a three-card flush with 10, 9 and a low card is stronger than a four-card inside straight. Other three-card flushes are weaker than inside straights.

With 10-9 and three low cards, three-card flushes with no straight flush possibilities are not playable unless they include both the 10 and the 9.

With 10-8 and three low cards, three-card flushes that do not include the 10 are weaker than four-card inside straights.

With 9-8 and three low cards, three-card flushes that do not include both the 9 and the 8 are weaker than four-card inside straights.

With a 9 and four low cards, three-card flushes are weaker than four-card inside straights.

With an 8 and four low cards, three-card flushes are weaker than four-card inside straights that include the 8.

HOUSE EDGE: For players who learn Stern's strategy, Caribbean Draw Poker is one of the better games in the house.

To give a precise figure for the house edge, we need to know casino policy on the dealer draws to four-card inside straights. It's best for the player if the house makes those inside draws. Then the house edge is 1.5 percent of the ante, or 0.5 percent of all bets.

If the house does not draw to inside straights, the house edge is 2.4 percent of the ante, or 0.8 percent of all bets.

There's a middle ground. At Empress Hammond, the dealer does not draw to inside straights but does draw to Ace-King-Queen-Jack or Ace-2-3-4. Those are equivalent to inside draws because only one denomination of cards completes the straight - you need a 10 with Ace-King-Queen-Jack or a 5 with Ace-2-3-4.

The Empress way is a little better for the player than games in which the dealer does not draw to any inside straights - but only a little. Stern lists the house edge as slightly less than 2.4 percent of the ante or slightly less than 0.8 percent of all bets.

There is one other factor. At Trump, the dealer exposes one of his cards. Stern has not run tests but suspects the house edge is narrowed considerably if players avoid holding odd cards that match the dealer's up card.

PROGRESSIVE BETS: Caribbean Draw's $1 side bet on the progressive jackpot is the same as that in Caribbean Stud and takes into account only the initial five-card hand. There are slight variations in the pay table at different casinos, but if a royal flush wins the jackpot, with payoffs of $5,000 for a straight flush, $500 for four of a kind, $100 for a full house and $50 for a flush, the break-even point is $369,290. The house edge is 1 percent for every $6,497.40 less than $369,290. So if the jackpot stands at a mere $100,000, the house edge exceeds 41 percent. Ouch!

Players Can Simplify Caribbean Draw Poker Strategy is republished from Online.CasinoCity.com.
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Best of John Grochowski
John Grochowski

John Grochowski is the best-selling author of The Craps Answer Book, The Slot Machine Answer Book and The Video Poker Answer Book. His weekly column is syndicated to newspapers and Web sites, and he contributes to many of the major magazines and newspapers in the gaming field, including Midwest Gaming and Travel, Slot Manager, Casino Journal, Strictly Slots and Casino Player.

Listen to John Grochowski's "Casino Answer Man" tips Tuesday through Friday at 5:18 p.m. on WLS-AM (890) in Chicago. Look for John Grochowski on Facebook and Twitter @GrochowskiJ.

John Grochowski Websites:

www.casinoanswerman.com

Books by John Grochowski:

Winning Tips for Casino Games

> More Books By John Grochowski

John Grochowski
John Grochowski is the best-selling author of The Craps Answer Book, The Slot Machine Answer Book and The Video Poker Answer Book. His weekly column is syndicated to newspapers and Web sites, and he contributes to many of the major magazines and newspapers in the gaming field, including Midwest Gaming and Travel, Slot Manager, Casino Journal, Strictly Slots and Casino Player.

Listen to John Grochowski's "Casino Answer Man" tips Tuesday through Friday at 5:18 p.m. on WLS-AM (890) in Chicago. Look for John Grochowski on Facebook and Twitter @GrochowskiJ.

John Grochowski Websites:

www.casinoanswerman.com

Books by John Grochowski:

> More Books By John Grochowski