Caribbean Draw Poker developed by Microgaming is a variation of casino-style poker that allows players to place a side bet and become eligible for a progressive jackpot. Unlike other casino poker games, the online variant called Carribean Draw includes a round where both the player and the dealer can draw additional cards to try and form a better hand.
The first move in any round of this popular online poker variation is for players to place their wager. At the same time that a Caribbean Draw player lays this initial wager, they can choose to place the $1 side wager that gives them a chance at the progressive top jackpot. After making all initial bet decisions, pressing the button labelled “Deal” initiates the distribution of cards that starts the game.
The rules closely follow other variations of draw poker, starting with the fact that cards are dealt back and forth between the gambler and the dealer, unlike in Caribbean Stud and other table variations where the cards are dealt to players all at once. One of the dealer’s cards, called the up-card, is dealt face-up.
Before the draw round, the gambler has to choose between betting on their hand (and continuing play) or folding the hand and forfeiting their initial ante wager. Gamblers that want to play the hand through to the end are required to place a wager equal to double the ante. This choice is based on the cards in their own hand and the value of the dealer’s up-card. Players who play through can then draw as many as two additional cards. Players aren’t required to draw if they don’t want to, or can also choose to draw just one card instead of two.
After the draw round, the dealer turns over the rest of their hand. Afterwards, the dealer can also choose to draw two cards to improve his hand. The variable that results from the dealer’s ability to draw and improve his hand makes Caribbean Draw Poker considerably more difficult in terms of strategy.
Another feature of this game that separates it from some table-style poker games is that the dealer’s hand only qualifies if he has a pair of 8s or higher. The word “qualify” in this context just means the dealer can’t continue playing, after the draw round, without a hand that consists of a pair of 8s or better.
In cases where the dealer doesn’t qualify, the bettor wins even money (a payout of 1:1) on his initial bet (the ante) and retains the full value of the second bet without any additional payout. Because of the dealer qualification rule, most game strategy suggests players don’t fold before the draw round, especially if the player himself is holding a pair of 8s or better.
Bettors familiar with Caribbean Stud or other table-style poker games should be familiar enough with this game’s payout structure and the rules for the progressive jackpot, since Caribbean Draw uses a structure similar to many other casino poker games.
The major difference in the payout schedule for Caribbean Draw compared to Caribbean Stud or other non-draw variants is that hands consisting of anything lower than a flush (according to traditional poker hand hierarchy) pays even money; winning with a straight, three of a kind, two pair, or a pair of 8s or better means a payout of 1:1.
The payout structure for other hands is as follows:
An important rule that’s easy to overlook when learning about the game’s progressive prize – the player can win the progressive jackpot regardless of the value of the dealer’s hand – if the dealer qualifies, doesn’t qualify, or even if the dealer has a better hand than the bettor, if the conditions for winning the progressive are met, the player still wins.
Of course in order to be eligible for that ever-increasing top prize, the gambler has to choose to place the additional $1 wager at the start of the hand. Winning the progressive in this game means holding a hand of flush or better with the initial five card deal. Once the player draws one or two cards, they are not eligible for the big money.
Players who place the $1 side wager are actually eligible for five different bonus payments based on the value of his hand. The bonus payouts for Microgaming’s version of Caribbean Draw are as follows:
Two factors are responsible for the complexity of the game’s strategy: the rule that requires a player to choose whether to play the hand or fold before they see any additional cards from the draw round and the rule that allows the dealer to draw for a better hand.
The dealer is governed by a few rules in terms of drawing. In cases where the dealer doesn’t hold any pairs he will draw two. The dealer also draws two if he’s holding just one pair, regardless of whether or not that pair qualifies. When the dealer is holding two pairs, he will draw one card. If the dealer is holding a three of a kind, he will draw two cards. One more rule regarding dealer behaviour during the draw round – one card will be drawn if the dealer is one away from either an inside or outside straight or a flush, except when the dealer also holds a qualifying pair. In every other case, the dealer will not draw.
Until a bettor becomes more familiar with the game, he should always bet on a hand made up of at least a pair of 8s or better. In situations where the play holds a pair smaller than two 8s, the smart strategy is to play through only if the hand contains any single card of 8 or better.
If the player’s hand doesn’t contain a pair, he should play through if he has three cards of 8 or higher in his hand. When the dealer’s up-card is a 7 or lower, the player should call if he has two cards of 8 or better in his hand.
A player holding four cards to an outside straight or flush should call and draw one card in every situation except when he’s holding a pair of 8s or better. In other words, the only situation in which the player should try for a straight or flush based on just three cards is if the player’s hand has three connectors to a straight flush.
In every situation besides the ones mentioned above, the player should fold his hand.