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Strategies for Caribbean Stud, Let It Ride, and Three Card Poker

18 April 2002

Upon arriving at the office one day last week, I found the message light blinking away. A reader wanted to talk strategy.

"You have your strategy for this game and your strategy for that game, but is all that really necessary?" he wanted to know. "No doubt your way is better, but it's all luck in the end, isn't it? Is the few bucks here and few bucks there I save worth all the time it takes to memorize one of those strategies?"

In my view it is, or I wouldn't be writing this column. Let's say I play basic strategy at blackjack, and you mimic the dealer, hitting or standing by dealer's rules. In the long run, I can expect to lose about 50 cents per $100 wagered--a little more or less, depending on house rules. You can expect to lose about $5.70 per $100 wagered--more than 11 times my expected losses.

Or let's say we're playing Caribbean Stud Poker. With basic strategy for deciding when to fold and when to make the bet of double the ante, I can expect to lose about $5.23 for every $100 wagered. If you want to just bet on every hand and trust to luck, as I've seen players do, your losses will average about $16.60 per $100 anted.

Yes, basic strategies make a difference and are worth the time to master if you plan to play for money.

From time to time over the next couple of months, I'm going to go over basic strategies for a number of casino table games, followed by a few popular video poker variations. Let's start with three games that are based on stud poker--Caribbean Stud, Let It Ride and Three Card Poker.

CARIBBEAN STUD

The most widespread of the new table games that rose to popularity in the 1990s, Caribbean Stud gives the player just one strategy decision to make: After seeing his or her five-card hand, the player must decide whether to fold or to place a bet of twice the ante. With proper basic strategy, the player lowers the house edge on the game to 5.23 percent of the ante.

The player should bet if the hand meets any of the following conditions:

  • A pair or better.
  • Both an Ace and a King, and one of the other three cards matches the dealer's face-up card.
  • Ace-King-Queen or Ace-King-Jack, and any of the five cards matches the dealer's up card.
  • Ace-King-Queen and the player's next highest card outranks the dealer's up card.

Players seem to have the most trouble with the second and third conditions, with the requirement that they match the dealer's up card. The reason for that requirement is that the matching card in your hand decreases the likelihood that the dealer will have a pair that will beat your Ace-King.

LET IT RIDE

In Let It Ride, the player makes three bets, two of which may be pulled back. There is no dealer's hand to beat. The player is just betting that his or her final hand will make it to a pay table that starts at a pair of 10s.

There are two strategy decisions to make. After seeing three cards, the player may choose to pull back the first bet. After seeing the fourth card, the player may choose to pull back the second bet. Bet No. 3 must stay in action, and all remaining bets are decided after players see their fifth cards. Basic strategy leaves a house edge of 3.5 percent.

After seeing the first three cards, leave bets in action with the following hands:

  • Any paying hand--a pair of 10s or better.
  • Three consecutive cards of the same suit, ranking 3-4-5 or higher. That gives us potential flushes, straights or straight flushes.
  • Three cards of the same suit with one gap, provided they include at least one card that is a 10 or higher. For example, we hold 7-8-10 of the same suit, but not 6-7-9, because along with the potential straights and flushes, the 10 gives us the possibility of finishing with a high pair payoff.
  • Three cards of the same suit with two gaps, provided they include at least two cards that are 10 or higher. We keep 8-Jack-Queen, but not 8-9-Queen.

THREE CARD POKER

This is the easiest game of all. Three Card Poker is really two games in one. One part, called Pair Plus, is a simple bet that the player's three-card hand will include a pair or better. There is no strategy to this portion of the game; just make your bet and wait to see if you win.

The other portion is play against the dealer, similar to Caribbean Stud. After seeing his or her cards, the player must decide whether to fold or place a bet equal to the original ante. The house edge is 2.0 percent with one simple strategy rule: Bet with Queen-6-4 or better, fold with anything less.

Strategies for Caribbean Stud, Let It Ride, and Three Card Poker is republished from Online.CasinoCity.com.
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Recent Articles
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