Seven-Card Stud was easily the most popular
poker game spread in card rooms before the introduction of Texas Hold’em and especially before the popularization of No-Limit Holdem
during the "poker boom." Despite the drastic decrease in popularity, you can still find the game spread in most casinos and online
card rooms. Stud games can include Seven Card Stud High, Razz, and Stud 08 also known as Eight or Better or Stud Hi/Low, but for the sake of
simplicity, we will only be discussing 7-Card Stud High in this article. Many tournament series still offer Seven-Card Stud events, and the
game represents the “S” in mixed game acronyms such as H.O.R.S.E. and H.O.S.E. Learning how to play Stud poker games is essential to being
able to play these mixed events.
If you are playing in a full game, there will usually be 8 players sitting at the table. Unlike games like Hold’em and Omaha that are
played with blinds, Seven-Card Stud usually requires each player to post an ante before the cards are dealt. These antes are collected
by the dealer and used to build a pot prior to the deal. Starting with the first player seated to the left of the dealer and continuing
clockwise, each person receives two cards face down (called hole cards), and one card face up (referred to as an upcard or door card).
The player who has the lowest ranking hole card showing face up is assigned the bring-in, meaning that they are required to post a
specified amount. If two or more players share the same value card, the bring-in is determined by the rank of the card’s suit (with
lowest to highest being: club, diamond, heart, spade). The action continues to the left of the bring-in, with the next player having the
option of completing the bring-in (the act of
increasing the minimum bring in to the full size of the structured bet), calling, or folding. Because each player is forced to post at
least the bring-in to continue with the hand, checking is not an option on this street. Once one player completes the bet, the remaining
players have the option to call, fold, or raise.
Once the initial betting round is complete, another upcard (called fourth street) is dealt to each participating player. This time, the betting
begins with the player who is showing the best two card poker hand, excluding flushes and straights since less than 5 cards are showing. The
player with the best upcards may either check or bet. The play continues clockwise with each player acting on their hand accordingly until all
players have had a chance to act on their hand.
After the fourth street action is complete, a third upcard is dealt to each player (fifth
street). Another round of betting (with higher limits - see below) ensues again starting with the player who is showing the best poker hand
(continuing like this in the subsequent betting rounds). One more card is then dealt face up (sixth street or the turn), more betting takes
place and then finally seventh street (or the river) is dealt face down to each player. After a final round of betting, the pot is awarded
to the player who has made the best five card hand, using any combination of their hole cards (often called a porch) and their upcards.
It is important to understand how the betting works if you want to learn how to play Stud poker games. If you are playing $5/$10 Stud, the
ante would usually be $.50 cents, with the bring-in being $2. The bring-in player has the option of bringing it in for a minimum of $2
or a full bet of $5. Any player who wishes to raise can do so in increments of $5. On fourth street, the price of betting remains at $5
but increases on fifth street to $10 (and will remain the same on sixth and seventh streets). Also make sure to take note of how many
times a raise is allowed on each street in the game you are playing. This varies from casino to casino. In most California card rooms, a
bet and three raises is the maximum amount allowed. In Nevada, it is a bet and four raises.
Carefully observing the game is essential to becoming a winning player at Seven-Card Stud. Perhaps more so than other forms of poker, a
player gains a significant advantage by watching the table closely because there is so much information offered in the upcards.
Memorizing which cards have been folded is optimal, but a difficult task – especially for beginners. Learning how to play Stud poker
games is important if you are looking to become a well rounded poker player. Now that you know the basic Seven Card Stud rules, you might want to
try your hand at some small stakes online to get comfortable with the game.