Poker Rules

Seven-Card Stud

Let's play poker: Seven-Card Stud

In terms of popularity, at the moment Stud is considered to be the 3rd in the world. But history shows that for a long while Seven-Card Stud ruled the poker world in U.S. Now there are all kinds of Stud games that are quite popular in today's poker. For example, even 6 events in 43rd Annual World Series of Poker were dedicated to Stud games not to mention mixed game tournaments where Stud game is always one of the different games.

7-Card Stud: Basic Rules

It is quite hard to lay down all the Stud Poker rules in a few comprehensible sentences to someone who does not know any poker rules so try to be patient. If you know something about other forms of poker, like Omaha or Texas Hold'em it will be much easier to understand the rules here even though the games differ significantly.

Unlike Texas Hold'em poker and Omaha poker, at Seven Card Stud there are no community cards on the table. The cards you are dealt is solely yours. Although, not all cards are hidden. Just like community cards in Texas Hold'em or Omaha, some of the cards in Stud games are facing up. This way you and your opponents get to see some of the cards other player is holding that helps making the right decision. But it is good old-fashioned poker after all, so in the end of the hand (at the Showdown) if there are left two or more players, they show their cards and the best 5-card combination wins.

Check out how it looks in action at WSOP:

Seven-Card Stud is an ante game. That means that there are no blinds (forced bets for two players to the left of the dealer) and everyone has to put a certain amount at the beginning of every hand. Moreover, as there are no blinds, your position in relation to the dealer is not considered to give any edge. In fact, every betting round may be started by a different person.

In Seven-Card Stud:

  • Every player pays the fixed-sized ante.
  • Every player gets two cards faced down (hole) and one card face up (the Door).
  • The player whose face up Card is the lowest, starts the betting round.
  • The following betting continues clockwise.
  • Every following betting round is started by the player that has the strongest combination out of showing cards.
  • Once the betting round is complete, Fourth, Fifth and Sixth cards are dealt to each player face up. Each deal is followed by a new betting round
  • After Sixth Street betting round, every player is dealt the seventh card face down.
  • If there are two or more players that haven't folded yet, they go to showdown and the best 5-card combination wins.

Here is how the board would look like after the Seventh Street but yet before the Showdown:

Antes and The Bring

Let's start playing 7-Card Stud. At the beginning every player has to pay an ante and he gets his first three cards (two cards face down and one cards face up). The ante they have to pay is usually 10% of the minimum bet.

As we already know, the player that has the lowest card showing starts the betting (the Bring in). If two or more players have the same card, suits determine who goes first. In Stud the suits go alphabetically from the worst to the best ({x-Clubs} clubs, {x-Diamonds} diamonds, {x-Hearts} hearts, {x-Spades} spades ). So, the worst card in Stud is Two of Clubs {2-Clubs} while the best card is the Ace of Spades {a-Spades}.

Fourth, Fifth and Sixth Streets of betting

Once the previous betting round is over, the Fourth card is dealt to each player (face up). Note, that now the action does not start with the lowest showing card. The action now is started by the strongest hand showing.

So, the strongest possible hand at this points is {a-Hearts}{a-Spades} . Keep in mind, that any pair is better than a non pair, so The Ducks ({2-Clubs}{2-Diamonds}are better than {2-Clubs}{3-Clubs}. From this point on no one is forced to start the betting by putting money in to the pot. In other words, the action on the fourth street can start with the check and if everyone else checks back the fifth card is dealt.

The rule of betting stays the same on the Fifth and Sixth Streets. So, the strongest hand in the street showing starts the hand. For example, if the Fourth round was started by the player holding  {a-Hearts}{k-Spades} but now someone has a pair showing (say, {q-Hearts}{3-Clubs}{q-Diamonds} that player starts the betting round.

Seventh Street aka Down and Dirty

The last card is dealt face down and the last round of betting commences. Note, that in an eight player game, if no one has folded until the Seventh street is dealt, the dealer will run out of cards (8 players require 56 cards at this point, while the deck has only 52). If that ever happens, the 7th Street card is dealt face up and is used as a community card (everybody can use it to make the best hand).

7-card Stud Hi/Lo Rules

Like Omaha, 7-Card Stud also has a Hi/Lo version of the game. Hi/Lo is a split pot structured poker game where the best hand splits the pot with the worst hand (the best qualifying 'Low hand'). You already know how to determine the best hand in poker – the highest 5-Card combination in the hand.

The Low (Lo) hand might be difficult to understand at first but in Hi/Lo games players get an additional edge if they manage to qualify as the Low hand. In case there is no qualifying Low hand, the whole pot goes to the High Hand. Also, if the same player holds hands qualifying as the best High Hand as well as the best Low hand, that single player takes the whole pot.

In Seven Card Stud Hi/Lo all the differences between the regular Seven Card Stud come out only at the Showdown. Low hand is made of any 5 cards out of the 7 you are holding. The Low hand can not be a paired hand, a flush or a straight. For example, there can be cards of the same suit but there can not be a flush.

A low hand will look like this: {2-Clubs}{4-Hearts}{6-Diamonds}{7-Diamonds}{8-Diamonds}

Remember, that the the highest card in the Low hand is an {8-}. {a-} in the Low hand are considered low. Also, if the two players hold the identical Low hands- they split their winning share of the pot no matter what suits of the cards are.

5-card Stud Rules

A little less popular is the 5-Card Stud which in strategies will vary. The thing with 5-card Stud is that you get less cards. So, you should think more about drawing. 5 Card Stud differs from 7-Card Stud mainly in 3 ways:

  • After a player has payed the ante, he is dealt one card face down and one card face up
  • The players get dealt 2 more cards on the Third and Fourth Streets. Each Face-up.
  • The last card (The Fifth Street) is dealt also face up and the last betting round commences.

Conclusion

Overall, Stud is a very fun game where you (let's be fair, and your opponents, too) having much more chances to win on the last street. The game requires more focus as every player gets to show at least one card from the deck before he folds. Ideally, in Heads up situation after 6 players have folded you could have seen 28 cards from the deck not to mention your own cards. Learn how to use this information to help you make your decisions and you will quickly nail this game.

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