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Tips and information about Caribbean Poker

CARIBBEAN POKER GENERAL RULES
Caribbean Stud is offered on a blackjack-like table and, as in blackjack, all players play against the house. The objective of the game is to beat the dealer's hand by making the best possible poker hand with five cards.

There are two betting squares in front of each player -- one labeled ante and the other labeled bet. There is also a side bet - the jackpot - that is made by dropping a one dollar chip in the jackpot slot which makes you eligible to hit the progressive jackpot that increases with each hand played. The side jackpot bet is strictly optional

The game begins with the players putting a bet in the ante square and, if they wish, they can put in the jackpot bet. Now the dealer deals five cards to each player. Unlike blackjack, you are not allowed to show your cards to the other players. The dealer also deals himself five cards, the last one being dealt face up. The players check their cards. They now have two choices to make. One: they can play out their hands. Two: they can surrender their hands and lose their antes. If they decide to play out their hands, they must place a bet that is double their ante in the bet square. Once the players have made their respective decisions, the dealer turns over his remaining four cards and makes the best poker hand possible out of them.

The one caveat is that the dealer must have at least an Ace-King hand for the game to be fully decided. If he fails to have such a hand, he pays off the antes and pushes on the bets. If the dealer achieves a hand of Ace-King (or better), than all the players' hands are judged against it. If the player cannot beat the dealer's hand, the player loses both his ante and his bet. If the player beats the dealer, the ante is paid off at even money, while the bet is paid off at house odds.

In addition, if the player originally opted for the jackpot side bet, certain select hands will win a bonus award, up to and including the jackpot itself.

CARIBBEAN POKER 
A poker player faces some tough decisions on many occasions. He usually has four choices to make: check, bet or call, raise, or fold. To make a wise decision, the player needs to establish the approximate expectation of each possible move and choose the one that has the best return, if any, or simply fold.

Calculate the odds against you, and if the return is greater than the odds, make the bet. If the odds are in your favor, bet as heavily as you can.

Because there is a lot of psychology involved during a game of poker, psychological strategy is very important.

Regularly varying your play is considered a good poker tactics. This means that sometimes you have to 'Bluff' and you should do it tactically, not just for the sake of bluffing. The aim is to make it harder for the other players to be able to 'read' your cards or guess your intentions when it matters.

Therefore, the most important thing a poker player must do is NOT to form a pattern of play.

The next important thing is body language and talk. Both of these can reveal a lot of how strong (or weak) your hand is. Over the time players can develop the ability to 'translate' your body language and what you say, into meaningful insight of what hand you might have.

Remember, poker is about being able to win big pots, not just getting the highest hand. Being able to disguise your play is probably the most valuable asset you can have as a poker player, closely followed by the ability to memorize played cards and be constantly aware which cards are 'Live' cards.

THE BASICS
Poker originated in the saloons of the Wild West and has probably the most game variants. It is played player against players and not just against the dealer as in Blackjack, and there is a lot of psychology involved during play.

Poker is played from a standard deck of 52 cards. Some variant games use multiple decks or add Jokers or Wild Cards.

The cards are ranked in descending order starting from the highest; Ace, King, Queen, Jack, 10, 9, 8, 7, 6, 5, 4, 3, 2, Ace. Ace can be high or low. There are four suits; spades, hearts, diamonds and clubs, but no suit is higher than another.

Each player is dealt five cards and is called a hand. The hand highest in ranks wins. In some games there are Wild Cards or Jokers, which can be labelled whatever suit and rank the possessor wishes to.

The Ranking of Poker Hands

The ranking of poker hands starting from the highest are as follows:

  1. Five of a Kind (with a Wild card or Joker)
  2. Royal Flush
  3. Straight Flush
  4. Four of a Kind
  5. Full House
  6. Flush
  7. Straight
  8. Three of a Kind
  9. Two Pair
  10. Pair
  11. High Card

Five of a Kind is only possible when using wild cards and is the highest possible hand. If more than one hand has five-of-a-kind, the higher rank wins; e.g. five Aces beat five kings, which beat five queens, and so on.

Straight Flush is the best natural hand. A straight flush consists of five cards in sequence and of the same suit. An Ace high straight-flush is called a Royal Straight Flush or Royal Flush and is the highest natural hand.

Four of a Kind is a hand that contains of four cards of the same rank. The hand with the highest rank of four-of-a-kind beats other four-of-a-kind hands. If there are many wild cards, as used in some game variants, there could be two four-of-a-kind hands with the same rank. In this case, the hand with the higher ranking fifth card wins. This rule applies to hands that tie, such as a pair or two pairs. Dead heats split the pot.

Full House is a hand consisting of three-of-a-kind and a pair. Again, where Wild Cards are used, ties are compared first by the three-of-a-kind ranking, then the pair.

Flush is a hand consisting of cards that are all of the same suit in any order.

Straight is a hand consisting of 5 cards in sequence, such as 5-6-7-8-9. An Ace may either be high (A-K-Q-J-10) or low (A-2-3-4-5).

Three of a Kind is a hand similar to the four-of-a-kind hand, except that if the remaining two cards are a pair, then it becomes a Full House.

Two Pair is a hand that contains two pairs only.

Pair is a hand that contains one pair only.

High Card is a hand that is none of the above and is a weak hand. If no player has a pair or better, then the hand that contains the highest ranking card wins. If multiple players tie with the highest card, then the second highest card decides, followed by the third and so on.

PLAYING POKER
In most games players must 'ante' a nominal amount just to have the cards dealt. Once the cards are dealt, the betting starts. Players bet into the pot in the middle of the table and it is done in turn clockwise.

The player with the highest rank showing, is the first to speak and to bet. He can either bet or check. By saying 'Check', he passes the decision to bet to the next player who can also check. If all players check, then it is the end of the round. Everyone opens his cards and the highest hand wins.

Only after one player places a bet the real betting starts. Each player in turn can either 'Call', 'Raise' or 'Fold'. To fold is to pass or drop out of the round and not play. To call means willing to match the bet, and the same amount must be placed on the pot. To raise means to match the bet and add an extra bet.

Say you start with a $5 bet. If someone else raises $10, he puts $15 in the pot. When your turn comes again you need to add $10 difference to the pot to stay in the game, and if you want you can also raise or even say 'Pot'. Pot is a raise to the maximum, which means to bet the same amount as the total money available in the pot.

If there are no more raises and all the cards have been dealt, then it is the end of the round. Everyone opens his closed cards and the highest hand wins the pot.

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