Seven Card Stud is a classic poker game that’s been around at least since the American Civil War. It’s enjoying a comeback in online poker rooms, though it’s not as popular as flop games such as Hold’em and Omaha.
Succeeding in Seven Card Stud requires a whole lot of memorizing, so playing it online can be an advantage – players can use designated software or a simple spreadsheet to remember which cards were folded. This article is focused on the basic rules, and future articles will discuss online tips for Seven Card Stud.
Stud games are different from flop games such as Texas Hold’em and Omaha, since there are no community cards. Instead, each player is dealt a set of individual cards. Hand rankings are the same, and the best five-card combination makes up the hand.
This is how the game is played:
All players post a mandatory sum of chips, called the ante. Similar to the blinds in Texas Hold’em, the ante is there to make sure that each and every hand has some chips in play. The size of the ante may vary, but it’s usually a fraction of the small bet. For example, if you’re playing a $1/$2 game, the ante will usually be 25c. Since Seven Card Stud is typically played online at tables of eight, the total will come out to $2.
First betting round
After the ante is in place, each player is dealt three cards – two face down, one face up. The exposed card is called the door card or third street. The player with the lowest up card may not fold, but is forced to make a bet instead. This is called the bring-in bet. The amount is more than the ante, but less than a small bet. For example, in a $1/$2 game the bring-in may be 50c. The player may also choose to ‘bring it in’ for a full bet. Going round the table clockwise, the following players may fold, call, raise to a full (small) bet, or re-raise the bet. Usually the limit for re-raising is three or four times each round, but there is no re-raising limit if there are only two players in the hand.
Note: In case two players are tied for the lowest up card, the tie is broken using suit ranks. Suits are ranked alphabetically, from lowest to highest: clubs, diamonds, hearts, and spades.
After each player has either folded or called all bets, the first betting round is over.
Second round – fourth street
The dealer now deals the remaining players a fourth card, face-up. This card is called fourth street. From this round on, the player with the best showing hand acts first. Again, in case of a tie, suit rank is used to determine the best pair of cards. Bets and raises are still for the small amount ($1 increments in a $1/$2 game). There is, however, an exception: If a player is showing a pair on fourth street, he can make a double bet. In some rooms, only the player holding the pair may choose to double the bet. Some rooms allow any player to make a double bet, as long as someone is showing a pair on the table. For example, if a pair shows on fourth street in a $1/$2 game, players may continue to bet in $1 increments, or someone may choose to start betting in $2 increments. Beware – once a double bet is made, all subsequent bets must be large.
Third round – fifth street
The dealer now deals the fifth card, face up. Now each remaining player is showing three cards and hiding two. From fifth street on, all bets are large, and the first player to act is the one showing the highest hand.
Players are dealt their sixth card, face up. This brings the card count to four cards showing, two cards hidden. Betting arrangements for this round are the same as fifth street – large bets, highest hand acts first.
Seventh street – the river
The seventh and final card is dealt face down, so each player now has four up-cards and three down-cards. The player to act first is the same that acted first in sixth street (which is still the player with the best four-card hand showing). This is the final betting round.
It’s now time for all remaining players to reveal their cards. The showdown is the same as in any other game – the last player to initiate action must reveal his cards first. Other players may choose to show or muck (hide) their hands. The player with the highest five-card hand takes the pot.
Another popular variation to this game is Seven Stud/High-Lo, where the player with the lowest hand also wins a share of the pot. Read more about High-Lo games here.