7 Card Stud Poker Complete Guide

7 Card Stud, otherwise known simply as Stud, is a traditional poker game that isn’t quite as popular as Texas Holdem or Omaha poker. Unlike those two games, Stud is not a community card game. Stud is generally considered to be more difficult than Omaha or Texas Holdem, though this largely boils down to personal preference.

7 Card Stud poker betting is played with 2 to 8 players. As with all poker games, the goal of 7 Card Stud is to build the largest chip stack by winning pots. One of the main differences between community card games and Stud is a concept known as the bring in.

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How To Play Stud Poker Games

To start a game of Stud poker, you’ll need two to eight players seated at a table, each with a sufficient amount of chips. Each player should have enough chips to pay antes, big bets and small bets. The ante size is generally 10% of the size of the big bet, while the small bet is half the size of the big bet. As a general rule, each player should buy into the game for an amount roughly 20x the size of the big bet.

Once the game is set up, 7 Card Stud follows a set of basic rules, listed below:

  1. Each player pays an ante, which goes directly into the pot.
  2. The dealer distributes two facedown cards to each player, followed by one face-up card for each player. The facedown cards are known as hole cards, while the face-up card is called a door card.
  3. The action in 7 Card Stud begins with the bring. The bring is defined as the player who holds the door card that is lowest in value. The Ace is considered a high card for the bring. If two players have the same low door card, suits are used as a tie breaker. The suits, ranked from highest to lowest, are spades, hearts, diamonds and clubs.
  4. The player tasked with the bring can start the action by placing a bet equal to the ante, or a bet equal to the small bet minus the ante.
  5. A betting round ensues.
  6. The dealer gives each player another card face-up.
  7. The next betting round begins. The player to act first in this betting round is determined according to the value of their two face-up cards. For example, a player with a pair would act first if all other players don’t have pairs. If no players have pairs, the player with the highest door card would act first.
  8. Each player receives another face-up card.
  9. Another betting round ensues, which again begins with the player that has the best face-up cards. Triple Aces would be the best possible hand here.
  10. Each player receives a fourth face-up card.
  11. A betting round begins, starting with the player that has the best four-card hand.
  12. Each player receives a final, 7th card. These cards are placed facedown on the table.
  13. The final betting round begins with the player that started the previous betting round.

After the last betting round in 7 Card Stud Poker, the showdown begins. Each player must assemble the best five-card poker hand they can. As such, two cards from each hand will be dead. The player with the best hand wins the whole pot.

7 Card Stud Rules

Stud can be played with three different betting structures: Fixed Limit, Spread Limit, and Pot Limit. Pot Limit games are quite rare, due to the tendency towards enormous pots that can end a game in only a few hands.

In a Fixed Limit Stud game, the betting limits are predetermined. In a $5 / $10 game, for example, the big bet is $10 and the small bet is $5. Raising and betting is done in increments of the small bet in the first two betting rounds and increments of the big bet in the last three betting rounds. No more than three or four raises can be done in one betting round, depending on where you play.

Spread Limit betting is usually only used in Stud poker. In a Spread Limit Stud game, the betting limits are determined according to a specific spread, such as $2 to $10. Players can bet any amount in this range.

As in other forms of poker betting, players can make several betting decisions during the game including fold, call, raise, check and bet.

Folding means throwing away your cards and exiting play until the next hand. When you call, you match the value of the bring, or any bet made in a later betting round. When you raise, you increase the amount necessary for the next player to stay in. The first raise is called a bet. You can also check if no player has already made a bet.

Stud Hand Rankings

The winner in 7 Card Stud is the player that forms the best five-card poker hand after betting has concluded. Poker hand rankings for 7 Card Stud are the same as for virtually any other poker game:

  1. Royal Flush
  2. Straight Flush
  3. Four of a Kind
  4. Full House
  5. Flush
  6. Straight
  7. Three of a Kind
  8. Two Pair
  9. One Pair
  10. High Card

Variations

The most popular alternative variation of 7 Card Stud is called 7 Card Stud Hi Lo. Stud Hi Lo is a split-pot game, where the pot is split evenly between the player that has the highest hand and the player that has the lowest hand.

The high hand in 7 Card Stud Hi Lo is evaluated in a way that is identical to 7 Card Stud. The low hand is valued the same way as in Omaha Hi Lo. This means that the hand must qualify according to certain rules.

First, all cards must be 8 or lower with Aces being low. Suits and connectedness don’t “improve” a low hand or make it any less low. A pair automatically disqualifies a low hand. Finally, low hands are evaluated from their highest card down. Ace – 2 – 3 – 4 – 5 is the lowest possible hand in 7 Card Stud Hi Lo.

Strategy

The general strategy in betting 7 Card Stud hands and draws is actually very similar to Texas Holdem. Basically, you’ll only want to pursue very strong hands and aggressive play wins more often than it loses. This means folding all mediocre hands before the flop and betting or raising instead of just calling when you do see a premium hand.

In addition, 7 Card Stud requires you to remember the face-up cards that other players have and take those cards into consideration when making betting decisions. In this way, 7 Card Stud may appeal more to players who are skilled in math and have excellent memories.

Overall, the betting strategy in 7 Card Stud relies more on playing the cards than manipulating opponents, though bluffing and reading tells is still a crucial component of the game.

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