How to Play Seven-Card Stud

Seven-Card Stud

Seven-Card Stud is a variant of Stud poker was the most widely played poker variant in home games in the United States until Texas Hold’em took over that mantle. There are not many Seven-Card Stud tournaments or cash games these days, although some online poker sites spread the game, and poker tours hold stud tournaments during major festivals.

Seven-Card Stud Rules

The rules of Seven-Card Stud are relatively simple, like most other poker variants. Most games are played on an eight-handed table. Also, almost all Seven-Card Stud is played with a fixed-limit structure.

A Seven-Card Stud game starts with everyone paying an ante before receiving any cards. Antes tend to be small and designed to force the action. For example, a $0.15 ante in a $1/$2 game. The dealer pitches cards clockwise until each player has two face-down hole cards and one face-up.

Everyone looks at their own cards, and the player with the lowest-value upcard pays a bet called the bring-in. This bet is a raise, meaning the other players cannot check; they can only call or raise. The first round of betting goes clockwise from the player who brought it in. Players bet and raise in increments of lower betting increment, $1 in a $1/$2 game.

The dealer burns a card before giving each of the remaining players another face-up card, known as fourth street. Whoever’s upcards make the best poker hand now acts first and can check or bet to the game’s limits.

Everyone receives another face-up card after the second round of betting. This is called fifth street, and where the bet sizes increase ($2 in a $1/$2 game). Again, the action starts with the player whose upcards make the best poker hand. Sixth street follows this round of betting, and each player receives another face-up card.

This penultimate round of betting concludes, and the remaining players receive a face-down card, known as the river. A final round of betting ensues, and the victory is the player with the best five-card poker hand.

Additional Seven-Card Stud Rules

There are a handful of Seven-Card Stud rules to be aware of despite the rules being based around rare occurrences.

Ties in card rank are broken by suit, which ranks in alphabetical order. Clubs are the lowest, followed by diamonds, hearts, and spades.

In addition, the bring-in moves clockwise to the next player, regardless of the value of their exposed card, if the player with the lowest card showing in Third Street is all-in before paying the bring-in bet.

Furthermore, anyone showing a pair on fourth street has the option to raise for one big bet ($2 in a $1/$2 game). This larger bet continues for the remainder of fourth street betting.
There are only 52 cards in a deck, but an eight-handed Seven-Card Stud game uses 56 cards, plus four burn cards if everyone stays in the hand until seventh street. A single community card is dealt face-up on the table that all remaining players share if the dealer runs out of cards.

Other 7CS Variants

Seven-Card Stud Hi/Lo, sometimes called Stud Eight or Better, or Stud/8, is a popular game variant. Players can win part of the pot for having the best five-card poker hand or part of the pot for having the best low hand. The low hand cannot have a card higher than eight in it.

For example, the best low hand is 5, 4, 3, 2, A. Ironically, this also counts as a five-high straight high hand! 6, 4, 3, 2, A is the second-best low hand in Stud/8.

Some players prefer playing Razz, a Seven-card Stud variant where the pot is awarded to the best low hand. There is no qualifying hand in Razz games.

Playing stud is not as fashionable as it once was, but there are benefits to doing so. Observation of the up-cards is crucial in this game, which is transferable to other poker formats. Give it a try, and you may just find you love it.

Matthew Pitt

If it’s something you can play online for real money, chances are Matthew knows a bit about it. He’s been writing about slots, craps and poker for the better part of the last decade. He’s written for PokerNews, PartyPoker and many other respected online gambling websites during the last nine years.


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