Seven Card Stud Eight or Better is
also known by various other names, including Hi-Lo Stud, Eight or Better Stud, High Low Split, Stud H/L, Stud 08 and “EO.” If you already know
how to play Stud High, learning how to play Stud Hi/Lo would be a natural next step. It is a split pot variation of Seven Card Stud. This
means that the pot is split evenly between the best high hand and the best low hand, provided a low hand qualifies. If there is an extra chip
in the pot that does not divide evenly, it is awarded to the high side of the pot.
In order for a player’s hand to be considered for the low side of the pot, it must qualify. “Eight or Better” indicates the qualifier
necessary for a valid low hand. Paired low cards may not be counted twice. Therefore, in order to have a valid low holding, a player
must have five low cards of different ranks, all of them eight or “better,” which means eight or lower. The best, or lowest, valid low
hand is entitled to half of the pot at showdown. If no low hand qualifies, the high hand wins the entire pot. Players may try to win the
high side of the pot, the low side of the pot, or both. The best starting hands have potential to win both sides of the pot. Aces play
as both the highest high card as well as the lowest low card, making them extremely valuable.
Eight or Better Stud is a type of Seven Card Stud. Like other stud games, each player receives their own individual cards. There are no
community cards (except on very rare occasions), and there is no draw. This is what differentiates Stud games from Flop games and Draw
games. Players each receive a total of seven cards, four of them face up and three of them face down. They must combine these so as to
form their best five card poker hand. Players may form a separate five card hand for both high and low, but any low hand must qualify in
order to be considered a valid low. If a player wins the entire pot, either because they have made the best high hand and no low hand
has qualified, or because they have made both the best high hand as well as the best low hand, it is called a “scoop pot,” a “scooper,”
or a “hogger.” If two or more players make identical hands, on either the high side or the low side, they must evenly split their
portion of the pot. This makes it possible to get a quarter of the pot or less at showdown. When this happens it is common for the
players who “got quartered,” to make nothing on the hand or to even lose money. This happens occasionally in Stud H/L, but occurs much
more frequently in Omaha H/L. Scooping is a key concept you need to grasp when learning how to play Stud High Low.
In a Stud game, during the course of the hand, players are dealt some of their cards face down and some of their cards face up. The
“face down” cards are known collectively as “hole” cards, while the “face up” cards are known as a player’s “board.” Interspersed
between the deliveries of the cards are five betting rounds. On the first two betting rounds, half sized, “small bets” are used, and on
the last three betting rounds double sized, “big bets” are used. In most casinos, house rules allow either a bet and three raises or a
bet and four raises on any given betting round before the betting becomes capped for that round. Once the betting is capped for a given
betting round, there can be no more betting until the start of the next betting round. After the last betting round, “Showdown” occurs.
This is the point at which all players “show down” their hands so that the dealer may determine who is entitled to a piece of the pot.
Before the hand can start, each player must “ante up.” This means that each player must put up a small predetermined amount of money,
called an “ante.” The antes seed the pot, and give each player the right to be dealt in. A player who does not ante may not be dealt in.
After the antes are collected and taken into the pot, the dealer deals each player a three card “starting hand.” The first two cards are
delivered face down and the third is delivered face up. This point in the hand is known as “Third Street,” because each player now has
three cards. The up card is known as a player’s “door card,” and its rank determines which player must start the action or “bring it
in.” The player with the lowest ranking door card must start the betting on Third Street. This is a forced bet; the player with the
lowest up card may not check or muck his hand. Even though aces may be played as either high or low at showdown, they are considered as
high cards when determining which player must bring it in. If two or more players display door cards of identical low ranking, the
player with the lowest ranking suit is considered to be low, and must bring it in. Suits are ranked alphabetically, from low to high:
Clubs, Diamonds, Hearts, and Spades.
The player who is required to bring it in has two options. They may either bring it in for the minimum amount, which is typically a
fraction of the small bet, or alternatively, they may “complete” the bet to the full amount of the small bet. If they choose to complete
the bet, it is known as a “completion,” which is technically a “bet” and not a “raise.” If they elect to bring it in for the minimum,
any player who follows them in the betting order will have the option to complete the bet when it is their turn to act. After the action
from the low card starts the first betting round, the betting then proceeds in a clockwise fashion until all players have had a chance
Upon the conclusion of the first betting round, another card is dealt, face up, to each active player. This card is known as “Fourth
Street.” The second betting round follows the delivery of this card. At this point, the determining factor for the first action changes
for the remainder of the hand. You may recall that on Third Street the low card was responsible for starting the betting by bringing it
in. On Fourth Street, and for the remainder of the hand, opposite is true. Now, the player with the highest ranking combination of board
cards starts the betting. Remember, aces are counted as high for this purpose. The player with the highest two card combination on board
acts first on Fourth Street, and may either check or bet. Betting proceeds in a clockwise manner until the betting round is completed.
After the Fourth Street betting round is completed, the dealer deals each player a third up card, known as “Fifth Street.” Again, the
player with the highest combination of board cards is responsible for starting the betting. This may or may not be the same player who
started the betting on the previous betting round. In a Seven Card Stud game, Fifth Street is the third betting round, which means that
the double sized “big bet” will be used for the remainder of the hand.
After the Fifth Street betting, the dealer deals the final up card, known as “Sixth Street.” Each active player now has two down cards
and four up cards. The highest ranking board starts the action. At the conclusion of this betting round, the seventh and final card is
delivered. This card is called “The River Card,” and it is delivered face down. The highest board begins the river action. After the
river betting, there is a showdown, and the pot is distributed. This concludes the hand. The dealer then collects the cards, scrambles
and shuffles the deck, in preparation for the next hand.
Now that you understand how to play Stud High Low, you might want to broaden your horizons further by learning another game like Razz or
Badugi (guides on how to play these games are linked on the left).