Progressive Caribbean Stud
Progressive Caribbean stud plays just like the classic version of Caribbean stud poker, except a side bet is offered. The side bet pays out when you collect a 5-card hand with a three of a kind, full house, straight, flush, full house, four of a kind, straight flush, and royal flush. The royal flush is primary prize winner for the progressive jackpot. Those who hit the royal get 100% of the progressive. If you hit a straight flush instead, you'll receive 10% of the progressive jackpot amount. The other winning hands have fixed prize amounts.
The bonus game in progressive Caribbean stud poker thus plays similarly to the payout table for a jacks or better progressive video poker table, though you won't get paid for high pairs or two pairs. In this article, I want to discuss the biggest jackpot amounts that have been hit, where you're likely to find progressive Caribbean stud, and what the house edge is on this game.
What Was the Largest Caribbean Stud Jackpot Win Online?
The largest online payout for a UK progressive Caribbean stud game was £166,280.72. This was at one of the big brand name online casinos licensed in Gibraltar and based out of the United Kingdom. US casinos are likely to have $100,000 Caribbean stud jackpots periodically, though the largest prize being offered in the American market I see right now is a little over $96,000. That's still a huge payout offer. Few players would turn their nose up at such a prize.
Progressive Jackpot Side Bet
To play using the Caribbean stud progressive jackpot rules, players need to wager $1 on each hand. If you get a royal flush, the progressive jackpot pays out 100% of its flashing total. If the straight flush is what you collect, the payout is going to be 10% of the jackpot amount.
Largest US Caribbean Stud Jackpot
The largest Caribbean stud jackpot in a US casino I see on the Internet right now is just over $72,000. When I say it's an American casino, I mean this is a site which accept real money casino game players from the United States. These sites are going to be based in places like Curacao and Panama, while they'll be licensed and regulated in countries like Antigua and Barbuda, the Netherlands Antilles, and the Kahnawake Nation. No legitimate online casinos are going to be based and licensed in America, because the U.S. government has anti-gambling laws like the UIGEA. Even the US casino sites are going to turn away players from certain US states. The point being, gamblers from the United States who want to find a real money game of progressive Caribbean stud poker usually can find jackpots in the high five-figures.
How the Side Bet Works
When you place your $1 side bet, the casino takes between $0.29 and $0.35 into their coffers. The other $0.65 to $0.71 of the wager is paid into the progressive jackpot. If you don't hit a royal flush or a straight flush, then the jackpot grows by the amount which was paid in. The reset amount is usually $10,000, meaning the jackpot goes back to $10,000 if someone hits the royal flush. If the straight flush is hit, then the player gets 10% of the jackpot amount and the progressive is reduced by that amount, though it doesn't reset altogether.
Multiple players sit at a table of Caribbean stud, which means you both have a chance of hitting the progressive at the same time (though the chances of this happening are astronomically bad). If this were to happen, remember that payouts are made right to left according to the dealer, or left to right according to you. If you hit the progressive jackpot, but a player to your left also did so, they would be paid the total amount of the progressive jackpot. The jackpot would reset and you would be paid $10,000 (and probably pull your hair out). This is so unlikely to happen that it's hardly worth considering the possibility, but I've heard of one case where the 10% straight flush hand hit twice and the player sitting further to the dealer's left was paid out less.
How Often Do Online Progressives Hit?
It's hard to get comprehensive numbers on the progressive jackpots online, but the incomplete statistics I've seen suggest that a high-traffic online casino is going to pay out on a royal flush jackpot once every month or so. It takes about 40,000 hands on average for a royal flush to appear. One prominent website publicized its Caribbean stud poker progressive winners for one calendar year and about one jackpot was hit per month. In fact, the jackpot came pretty regularly, though two hit in 2 days in July. Don't take this information and assume you can predict when a progressive is "due". Every single hand has the exact same odds of hitting the royal flush as every other hand. If a progressive jackpot has gone a long time without hitting, it is no more likely than the jackpot which reset yesterday, as the one example indicates.
Progressive Caribbean Stud Expected Return
The odds are separate from the expected return on a progressive jackpot, because the payouts increase the further you go. Your expectation must be recalculated each step of the way. A Caribbean stud poker game is eventually going to become a positive expectation game, when the jackpot prize reaches a certain limit. Most of the time, that's not the case. In fact, the house edge on Caribbean stud poker's progressive side bet is often as high as 26.5%, which qualifies the progressive as a sucker bet.
How the Progressive Jackpot Works
The progressive jackpot is a side bet, so you need to make an additional $1 to trigger the bet. If the bet is triggered and you receive a royal flush, you win the amount of the progressive jackpot (for the side bet) and 100x your initial wager (on the main bet). If you don't make the side bet and you hit a royal flush, then you would only win the 100x payout.
Winning $100 on the dollar is a nice payback, but it's nothing compared to the size of the progressive jackpot. For that reason, most people who play Caribbean stud poker choose to play the progressive side bet. In many cases, that's the reason people flock to the Caribbean stud table. The jackpot starts at $10,000, but every time someone makes the bet and doesn't hit the royal flush (or a straight flush), the jackpot increases.
Let me explain my oblique reference to the straight flush. While the royal flush wins you 100% of the progressive, a straight flush wins 10% of the jackpot, if you made the side bet. So if the jackpot is at $75,000 and you make a straight flush, the payout is $7,500. This is an important rule, because it increases your chances of hitting a nice jackpot by a factor over 9. The odds of hitting a royal flush are 1 in 649,351 hands. The odds of hitting a straight flush are are 1 in 72,202 hands. So while those jackpots are 10 times smaller, they are almost 10 times as frequent.
Progressive Jackpot House Edge
Don't be under any illusions, though. The house edge on the side bet is significant. In fact, it's so high that gamblers consider it a "sucker bet". The average house edge is 26.46%. Yes, for every $100 players wager on the bet, they lose $26.46. That's a worse payback percentage than most games of keno. In fact, that starts to get into the territory of the payback percentage of lottery games--just an awful disadvantage.
Why Play the Progressive?
You might ask why anyone would make the progressive wager. I've known gamblers who just enjoy the idea of hitting the progressive. If they're making a $5 bet on the main hand, they see making a $6 bet for both as negligible. This is how casinos stay in business, because they realize that a $6 is 20% more and, over a whole lot wagers with a whole lot of customers, that turns into an immense amount of money. At the same time, I've talked to Caribbean stud players who say they couldn't sleep at night if they hit the royal flush and hadn't played the progressive bet.
Gamblers can have valid reasons for making a wager that don't have to do with mathematical probability. That doesn't mean they should ignore the math. If you're playing for the sake of entertainment, just know the odds you're up against. For instance, players need to understand the average house edge implies a range of possibilities. If the jackpot is less than about $110,000, then you face worse odds than the 26.46% I mentioned a bit ago.
Caribbean Stud House Edge
The house edge in the main bet is 5.22%. That reduces the effect house edge on Caribbean stud hands by a big margin in many cases, because people bet more on the main bet than the side bet. At the same time, the 5%+ house edge is nothing to write home about. That's in the same range as American roulette, which gamblers are warned to avoid. That's also in the range of many slot machines, which are considered one of the worst plays in casino gambling.