7 Card Stud
Before there was Texas Holdem, there was 7 Card Stud. Until recent years, 7 Card Stud was the flagship of poker games. In fact, most poker scenes in Western films were shot as Stud poker games, specifically or 7 or 5 Card Stud.
Stud Poker vs. Flop Poker Games
- There are no community cards. Instead, each player is dealt a mixture of face-down and face-up cards.
- Stud poker variants are typically non-positional games, meaning that each betting round may open with a different player – usually the one with the best hand showing on his face-up cards.
7 Stud Poker Rules and Strategy
7 Stud is played with two to eight players at the table. The best five-card hand takes the pot, though Hi-Low 7 Stud variations can also be found. Basic 7 Stud strategy calls for memorizing which cards were burnt (or thrown away) by your opponents, which is why playing online gives you a great edge – you can keep track of folded cards using spreadsheets or designated 7 Stud software. Still, if you ever plan to play a live game of 7 Card Stud, say with friends or at the casino, you must train your memory to cope without the software.
A Single Round of 7 Card Stud Poker
The Ante: In 7 Card Stud, each player posts a mandatory sum of chips, called the ante, before the cards are dealt. The ante functions like the blinds in Texas Holdem, forcing money into each pot. The size of the ante may vary, but the table total usually adds up to the amount of the small bet in Limit 7 Stud poker. For example, if you're playing a $2/$4 game, a typical ante would be 25c, which adds up to $2 in a table of eight players.
First Three Cards: Each player is dealt three cards – one face-up, two face-down. The single exposed card is called the ‘door card' or ‘third street'.
First Betting Round - Third Street: This betting round is called third street because each player has three cards. The player with the lowest door card showing may not fold. Instead, he is forced to make a bet, which is known as the bring-in. If two players are tied for the table low, suit is used as a tie breaker. The suites are ranked as follows, from lowest to highest: clubs, diamonds, hearts and spades. The bring-in bet is usually half the small bet. In a $2/$4 Limit 7-Card Stud game, for example, the bring-in might be $1. A player may also choose to ‘bring it in' for a full small bet. The betting continues clockwise, and each player may fold, call the bring-in, raise to a full small bet (in case the bring-in bet was low), or re-raise by a small bet. The limit for re-raising is typically three or four times per round, but there is no re-raising limit if only two players remain in the hand.
Second Betting Round - Fourth Street: A fourth card is dealt to each player, facing up. Starting from this round, the player with the best showing hand is first to act. All bets and raises are still limited to the small bet ($2 in a $2/$4 7 Stud Limit game), unless a player is showing a pair on fourth street, in which case he may choose to make a double bet ($4 using our example). In some rooms, only the player holding the pair may double the bet, while other rooms allow any player to make a double bet as long as a pair is showing on the table. Beware - once a double bet is made, all subsequent bets must be big.
Third Betting Round – Fifth Street: A fifth card is dealt, face up-again. The card count is now three cards showing, two hidden. Again, the player showing the highest hand is first to act. From fifth street on, all bets are large bets ($4 in a $2/$4 game).
Fourth Betting Round – Sixth Street: A sixth card is dealt, face-up, bringing the card count to four showing, two hidden. Betting proceeds exactly like on fifth street.
Fifth Betting Round – The River: The final, seventh card is dealt, face-down. Each remaining player holds seven cards, four facing up and three for the player's eyes only. The betting action starts from the player showing the best four-card hand.
The Showdown: The last player to have bet or raised is first to show their cards. The highest-ranked hand takes the pot, and another hand of 7 Card Stud is concluded.
In some 7 Card Stud games, one betting round is removed by skipping third street. After placing the ante, players are dealt four cards each – two face-up, two face-down. Subsequently, fourth street is played using the third street bring-in betting rules, and fifth street becomes the last round to use the ‘small bet'.