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Like many modern casino games, the exact origins of Caribbean stud poker are somewhat unclear. The game appears to have reached its current form through the combined input of a gambling expert, a cruise ship and a down on his luck gambler, before falling into the hands of a couple of opportunistic businessmen: an interesting tale indeed!

The Gambling Expert

Fans of poker in its various forms may well be familiar with the name of David Sklansky. A renowned gambling theorist and author of some of the most well respected poker books in print. David also claims to have had a hand in this casino version of the game. According to Mr Sklansky he touted a game very similar to the modern version in the early 1980s. His game did differ in a couple of major respects, firstly the dealer revealed two of his cards, not one. Secondly there was no mention of a progressive jackpot in this embryonic version of the game. Sklansky struggled to get his creation off the ground and handed over the reins to a poker player who it is said then took the game to Aruba.

The Cruise Ship

Given its Caribbean moniker, it is perhaps no surprise that a cruise ship also has a role to play in an alternative story of the game’s origin. Rather than being imported from the USA via the mind of a gambling don, it is claimed that the game had been played on cruise ships around the Caribbean for many years. Precisely how this came to be is unclear but it was, supposedly, eventually spotted by a casino owner, who promptly bought it up and made it available to patrons of his Excelsior casino. The predominantly tourist clientele of this Caribbean casino no doubt helped to spread the word of this new game further afield.

The Down On His Luck Gambler

Some combination of these two stories may explain how the rules came to be in the hands of an anonymous poker player on Fremont Street in Las Vegas. Wherever he came upon the game he had the good fortune of running into one James Suttle. The pair were sat at a Texas hold ‘em table together when the subject of this new poker variant came up. Sensing an opportunity James is alleged to have paid his fellow gambler the sum of $5000 in return for the rules to the game. This must have seemed a steal to James as he had friends who would know exactly what to do with this new product.

The Businessmen

One of James’s acquaintances was a man named Danny Jones. Not only was Mr Jones a casino owner, he was also heavily involved with games development making him a perfect candidate to pitch this new game to. Jones was excited by the potential of this new product but initially also struggled to get the game off the ground. The main stumbling block was the game’s prohibitive house edge. At over 5% it was significantly higher than other casino games such as blackjack and roulette. As it stood the game was not attractive enough to entice gamblers to play in any great numbers. Something else was needed to enhance its appeal.

Enter The Progressive Jackpot

A large portion of the credit for the game’s current popularity should go to a friend of Danny Jones, computer programmer Michael Titus. It was he who came up with the ingenious idea of introducing a progressive jackpot to the game. A longstanding feature in slot offerings, a jackpot had never been attempted on a table game before. The introduction of this side bet option gave the game a unique selling point from which it never looked back.

Titus demonstrated great belief in the jackpot enhanced Caribbean Stud when he left a well-paid job in a Las Vegas casino to work solely for the company that would run the progressive jackpot side of the game. Progressive Gaming as they were known, eventually moved to Florida and began distributing the game to overseas markets.

The Nevada rights to the game remained in the hands of the Jones family for a short time before being sold to a company by the name of D.P Stud for $1m. Suttle’s vision that the game was worth substantially more than the $5000 he paid certainly came to fruition. Sadly for Jones, who was now running affairs in place of his father, this deal didn’t work out so well. The fee was never paid in full, although D.P stud continued to distribute the game. Caribbean Stud was churned out in this state of limbo until Mikhon Gaming stepped in and bought the Nevada rights, in addition to its purchase of Progressive Gaming. Finally a unified distribution base was established and this helped the game to grow yet further.

The game has now well and truly taken hold around the world and has also become a staple offering of the vast majority of online casinos. Its popularity looks set to endure due to its simplicity of play, the ongoing growth of poker in general and the allure of life-changing money that the progressive jackpot offers for such a small stake.