Before the popularity of Texas Hold’em, Seven Card Stud (also sometimes called “Stud High”) was the most commonly played casino poker game in existence. While no one knows exactly when the game was first played, it is believed that Stud poker emerged during the United States Civil War. Back then, the game was always played with five cards (rather than Seven Card Stud that is more commonly played today). Stud is believed to have been named after American cowboys who were the game’s founding players.
At the beginning of the twentieth century, players began using seven cards rather than five, and the popular Seven Card Stud variation was born. At this time, draw poker was certainly the most commonly played poker game but was quickly replaced by the more complex yet easy to learn game of Stud. More and more people around the world began to play and enjoy the game, and by the 1980s many top poker professionals were making their living playing Seven Card Stud. Until Hold’em became all the rage in the late 90s, Stud was by far the most popular poker game in the world.
The object of Seven Card Stud is to create the best five card poker hand (using traditional “high” poker hand rankings) by utilizing any combination of the seven cards you will eventually be dealt throughout each hand. Stud is not a Flop game like Hold’em and Omaha, which means that players each receive their own individual cards and do not share community cards to create their hands.
Seven Card Stud is almost always played as a limit game, meaning that players must bet and raise in predetermined increments (as opposed to No Limit, in which players’ bets are only limited to the amount of chips they currently have in front of them). Another difference between Flop games and Stud games is that there is no dealer button and there are no blinds; instead each player must post an ante before the cards are dealt. Every player’s ante is the same amount and these are collected by the dealer and placed in the center of the table before the deal. They are essentially the price of being dealt into the hand, and serve to seed the pot.
Stud is generally played with up to eight players. Starting with the player seated to the dealer’s left, each person at the table will receive two cards face down (called “hole cards”) and one additional card dealt face up (often called an “up card” or “door card”) that all other players may observe. There is then a round of betting. Throughout the rest of the hand, four more cards will be dealt to each player, one at a time with a round of betting in between each card dealt. The next three cards will each be dealt face up, with the final card being dealt face down. If the hand is dealt to completion, each active player will have three hole cards and four up cards. There is one more round of betting after all of the cards are dealt, and then the players will compare their hands to see who has the best five card holding. The pot is pushed to the appropriate player and the next hand will begin. For full rules on how to play Seven Card Stud, including information on how the betting works, please read the Seven Card Stud Rules article on this site.
Seven Card Stud can also be played as a High/Low game, which is slightly more complicated to learn but can be very rewarding. For information on how to play Stud High/Low (also commonly called Stud Eight or Better), check out the Seven Card Stud High/Low Rules page.
It’s quite easy to see why Seven Card Stud is so popular in both cash games and tournaments alike. Because it easy to learn and often can create a great deal of action, it is still featured in every annual World Series of Poker and is a favorite among some of poker’s top pros, particularly the veterans who have been around long before Hold’em hit the mainstream. Reading the Stud Rules page as well as the Stud Strategy page is a good place to start before practicing the game in a small stakes online ring game or tournament, where you can experiment with your play with low monetary risk.
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