Seven Card Stud, once the most popular poker game, is considered a classic and a necessary game to learn for those who are looking to become a more well-rounded player. It is essential to learn how to play Stud if you would like to participate in mixed games, as it represents the “S” in mixes such as H.O.R.S.E. and H.O.S.E.
The object of Seven Card Stud (also sometimes called simply “Stud High”) is to create the best five card poker hand by using any of the eventual seven cards you will be dealt. Before reading further, please read our poker hand rankings page if you aren’t yet familiar with how this works. Unlike Flop poker games like Omaha and Hold’em, Seven Card Stud players do not share community cards, nor do they pay blinds. Instead, each player is dealt their own personal cards and are each expected to post an ante (a small forced bet) before each deal.
Because of the number of cards required to deal Stud, there are never more than eight players at a table. Stud is generally played with betting limits, meaning that the bets and raises can only be placed in predetermined increments (called “limits”). After the first two rounds of betting, the limits double from “small bets” to “big bets” and stay this way for the last three betting rounds. As an example, if you are playing in a $10/$20 Seven Card Stud game, the small bet is $10 (during the first two rounds of betting) and the large bet is $20 (during the final three betting rounds).
The hand begins when the dealer collects an ante from each player. Then, starting with the person seated on the dealer’s left, each player receives two hole cards (which are dealt face down) as well as one up card (which is dealt face up). This is called Third Street.
Now, one player is required to start the action by posting the “bring-in,” which is a small amount determined by the game’s stakes. The bring-in player is the person with the lowest ranked up card showing on Third Street. If two players are showing cards that are identical in rank, they will compare suits, which are ranked in alphabetical order of their names from lowest to highest: clubs, diamonds, hearts and finally spades. The lower ranking suit will pay the bring-in if there is a tie among card rankings.
Play begins with the player sitting on the immediate left of the bring-in. This player has the option to either “complete” by putting in a full small bet or pass on all further action by folding their hand. Play continues around the table clockwise as each player must either complete the bring-in, raise if someone has already completed, or call any raised amount.
After the first betting round is over, each active player receives another up card called Fourth Street. There is another round of betting, this time beginning with the player who is showing the best two card poker hand. This player can either check (pass on the action) or place a small bet ($10 in a $10/$20 game). Play will continue around the table clockwise until all players have acted.
Next is Fifth Street, in which each player is again dealt an up card. Another round of betting ensues, again beginning with the player who is showing the highest ranking exposed hand (now three cards). Now, the betting limits have doubled ($20 in a $10/$20 game) and will remain so for the rest of the hand.
Sixth Street is dealt in the form of one final up card, and another round of betting begins with the player showing the best four card poker hand. Players now have a total of two face down cards and four face up cards in front of them.
Finally, the final card is dealt face down and Seventh Street betting begins, again beginning with the player who has the best four card poker hand exposed. Once the betting is complete, there is a “Showdown” in which players compare hands to determine who has made the best five card poker hand. The pot is pushed the appropriate player and the next hand begins.