Seven Card Stud Poker

by Joseph MacNaughton

Experience the game that makes the perfect intro to Poker – Seven Card Stud

Seven card stud is part of the stud variation of poker. It was once the most popular form of poker for a long time until Texas Hold'Em took its place. Poker and specifically Stud Poker came about in American as early as the 1800s. This game was said to have originated on the Riverboats in New Orleans renowned for the hustling and cheating that took place.

The game of Poker grew in popularity and 5-card stud being the game of choice of soldiers during the American Civil war. Later 7-card stud evolved from 5-card stud and became the game of choice by everyone across America, and remained the most popular version up until around the 1980s. Texas Hold'Em started to take over as the most popular poker game around this time, but 7-card stud was still the one more commonly played.

Anyone who would like to experience the most classic form of poker should give 7-card stud a shot. You could say Seven Card Stud was the birth of poker as we know today. The rules are relatively simple with a lot of room for skill and strategy. Whether you are entirely new to the world of Poker or have only played Texas Hold'Em, you will get some pleasure out of this version of the game.

How to Play Seven Card Stud

Seven Card Stud is often played by the older generation of poker players. The betting structure is somewhat different in comparison to games like Texas Hold'Em and Omaha, which are frequently represented in No Limit and Pot Limit games. This game is almost always played with a Fixed Limit betting structure. The sizes you are allowed to bet are fixed and determined at the start of the game. There will usually be two fixed amounts that you will bet depending on the stage of the hand. There are a few different formats of Seven Card Stud. The second most popular one being High/Lo which is also fixed Limit.

Seven Card Stud games are regularly played with an Ante. An Ante is a small amount of money every player must put in the pot before any cards are dealt. After the Antes have been collected the cards may be dealt, and everyone will be given three cards, two face down and one face up. The player with the lowest face-up card is declared the 'bring-in' and must start the action. They must now choose whether they would like to 'bring-in' a small amount or a larger amount. The exact sizes will depend on the game and limits. Action continues clockwise, and players may call, raise or fold to the amount. Calling will match the same amount as the 'bring-in' placed, raising is placing more chips in the pot than the 'bring-in', and folding is throwing your hand away.

All remaining players who have not folded will receive another card face up, and the player with the two highest ranking face-up cards will start the action. For example, one pair of Aces would be the player that would start. The starting player can bet the small amount of the fixed limit betting structure or check. Checking is a neutral move and is the same as passing the action to the player next to act. The action will continue around the table clockwise the same way as the previous round.

Another card face up is dealt to each player, and again the player with the highest three ranking face-up cards will start the action. From now on, if the player initiating the action wishes to bet, they must bet the bigger sized amount.  

All remaining players will each be dealt another card face up, and again the player with the highest ranking four face-up cards will start the action. After completion of this betting round, a final 7th card is dealt to each player but this time face down. The player who acts first will be the same as the person who acted first in the last betting round.

All players who have not folded after the last betting round will now need to flip their three face-down cards face up and make the best 5-card poker hand that they can make. Whoever has the highest ranking 5-card poker hand will win all the money in the middle of the pot. The Poker hand rankings are shared across most formats of poker.

Poker Hand Rankings from highest to lowest:

POSITION

Hand

Description

Example

1ST

Royal Flush

Top five cards in sequence in the same suit

A♥+K♥+Q♥+J♥+10♥

2ND

Straight Flush

Any five cards in sequence in the same suit

3♣+4♣+5♣+6♣+7♣

3RD

4 of a Kind

Four identical cards of any value

J♣+J♦+J♠+J♥+K♥

4TH

Full House

Three of a Kind + A pair

7♥+7♦+7♠+A♠+A♣

5TH

Flush

Any five cards the same suite

A♣+7♣+4♣+3♣+10♣

6TH

Straight

Five cards of any suit in number sequence

8♥+9♦+10♦+J♥+Q♣

7TH

3 of a Kind

Three cards of the same value any suit

A♣+A♦+A♠+4♠+J♦

8TH

Pair

Two cards of same value any suit

K♦+K♥+2♥+7♣+10♦

9TH

High Card

The highest value card in hand where A is Highest

A♦+7♦+4♣+Q♣+9♦

 

If at any point you are the only player to have not folded their hand, you will instantly be awarded the entire pot in the middle.

Improving the Odds of Winning in Seven Card Stud Poker

Seven Card Stud, as well as most forms of poker, can take a lifetime to master. But there are some tips you can apply straight away which will give you an advantage. A Seven Card stud game has between 2-8 players. When you are dealt your first three cards, big pairs play very well with a small number of people, while drawing hands such as 3 of the same suit do not.

On the other hand, if you are playing with close to eight players, your drawing hands (such as three of the same suit) play better because you are now getting a much better mathematical price to call bets. Small pairs generally don't play so well if a lot of players are involved in the pot. Chances are very high that someone else has a higher pair and other players will chase draws at a high frequency.

High cards with your pair are valuable in this game. They allow you to break ties and they can help to hit a higher two pair hand as more cards are dealt.  

It is always a good idea to play fewer hands and observe other players on the table while you get a feel for how the game plays and how competitors are playing their cards. Some players will play a lot of hands and bluff a lot, while others will play very few hands and almost never bluff. Critical information can be absorbed by watching and observing how others play their hand.

Seven Card Stud isn't the best version of poker to attempt frequent bluffs. Because it is a fixed limit game, player’s are almost always given an excellent mathematical price to call, and not a whole lot of folding is going to happen because of this. A good tip would be to raise when you have the right hand and try not to slow play your good hands. Slow playing is when you have a strong hand, and you play it as if it is weak. This fixed limit structure means people will call a lot more and chase a lot of hands.

Remembering to look and think about your opponents face-up cards and not just your own cards is very important. This can give you a good idea of what cards they are holding face down or what hands they are trying to represent. Being aware of what your face up cards look like to your opponents is also very important.

Things to Keep in Mind Before taking a Chip and a Chair at a Seven Card Stud Game

Seven Card Stud has been around for a long time, and many playing strategies have evolved over the years. It doesn't have as many games to be found online or offline in comparison to more popular poker game variations like Texas Hold'Em and Pot Limit Omaha, but there is still some stud action available if you look in the right places.

If you're playing Poker for the first time or maybe just want to try something a bit different from Texas Hold'Em, Seven Card Stud could very well be the game of chance that is right for you. This game has five rounds of betting while Texas Hold'Em only has four so this game has plenty of action despite having a fixed limit betting structure.

Stud Poker can be perfect for beginners as fixed limit games do not require significant decisions on how much to bet to be made, and any mistakes will be a lot more forgiving in comparison to Pot Limit Omaha and No Limit Texas Hold'Em.