5 Card Stud: The Professionals Guide on How to Play

Probably the oldest variation of stud poker coming out the American Civil War, 5 card stud is still a game that can be found in casinos and online. This game is easy to learn, has easy and useful strategies, as well as different variants that can be played. 5 card stud can be played for real money, or just for fun – either way, here is where you’ll find all the information you need to become a pro.



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Supplies You Need to Play

Playing online just needs an internet connection and a device to play on. If you want to play live, you’ll just need chips, a deck of cards and a dealer.

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How to Play the Game

The goal is to build the best possible five card poker hand using only cards that he or she is dealt. There are no shared community cards, just a mix of face-up and face-down cards.

The game starts with each player being dealt two cards each – one face-up and one face-down. 5 card stud is played with a small ante and something called a “bring in”, which means the player with the lowest value face-up card has to place a small bet. Then a betting round takes place.

For the rest of the game, players are dealt one face-up card each, followed by a betting round. These deal/betting rounds go by the names Third Street, Fourth Street and Fifth Street. This goes on until players have 5 cards – one face-down and four face-up.

From here, players will show their face-down card and the best hand wins. This game does have pot variations, so it’s important make sure you know which one it is you’re playing so you don’t mess yourself up.

Hand Rankings

These rankings do vary based on which game you’re playing, but this is the overall structure:

Ranking Hand Description Example Hand
#1 Royal Flush A straight from 10 to Ace, all of same suit. 5 Card Royal Flush
#2 Straight Flush Any cards in consecutive order that are all of same suit. 5 Card Straight Flush
#3 Four of a Kind Four of the same card. 5 Card Four of a Kind
#4 Full House One pair and three of the same card. 5 Card Full House
#5 Flush All cards are the same suit. 5 Card Flush
#6 Straight Cards are in consecutive order. 5 Card Straight
#7 Three of a Kind Three of the same card. 5 Card Three of a Kind
#8 Two Pairs One pair of one card and one pair of another card. 5 Card Two Pairs
#9 Pair Two of the same card. 5 Card Pair
#10 High Card None of the hands above, relying on the highest card in your hand. 5 Card High Card


Strategies and Things to Remember

It’s important to remember not to try to aim for straights and flushes because with one wrong face down card, it’s over. If you have an ace, it’s good to stay in the game, however, if your opponent’s hands have been beating yours from the outset, it’s probably best to fold.

Fast-Play Strategy

Whether you have a weak hand or a royal flush building up, you can implement the fast play. This is a strategy where a player bets aggressively, trying to make other players think that he has the best hand. If you have a weak hole card, you’ll have two options; either you fold and wait for the next game or use fast play and pretend that you have the best hand on the table.

The goal of this technique is to make everyone feel insecure with their hand and fold before the 4th round is complete. However, this strategy is a two-edged sword.

Slow-Play Strategy

You can use this strategy regardless of the hand that you’ve been dealt. Slow play is a technique that focuses on maximizing the size of the pot or improving your chances of getting better cards. It starts by passively placing bets, often the minimum, just enough to keep everyone on the table until the 4th round.

When using the slow play strategy on a strong hand, you need to focus on maximizing the size of the pot.

If you are playing with a weak hand, being passive is the only option that you have to maximize your chances of getting better draws.

More experienced players use a combination of fast and slow play to create better manipulation of the table. You only need to find a balance between both of these strategies.

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5 Card Stud Variants


5 card stud can be played low-card wins. Casinos commonly use ace-to-5 ranking but, household games usually use ace-to-6.

5 Card Stud High-Low

The same betting and dealing of 5 card stud apply, but if pairs are showing, there is not an option to place a big bet or raising.

Both the players with the highest and lowest hands split the pot. If there is an odd amount of money, the high hand gets the extra dollar/chip. Low hand rankings are used.

5 Card Draw vs. 5 Card Stud

5 Card Draw: Every player gets all five cards at the start of the game. Each player will then have a chance to replace their cards to chase for a better hand.

5 Card Stud: Each player initially gets two cards; one face-down and one face-up. It takes four rounds to draw all the cards, and the player with the best hand moves first.

Community Terms

3rd Street Bet: The first bet placed by players on the three community cards. Must be 1x – 3x the ante.

4th Street Bet: The second bet placed on the remaining two community cards. Must be 1x – 3x the ante.

5th Street Bet: The last bet placed on the one remaining community card. Must be 1x – 3x the ante.

Before You Play

It’s always important to practice playing for free or for very small amounts when starting out. When playing 5 card stud for real money, you have to make sure you know what the pot limit is and play within your means. This is a fun game that anyone can learn and master easily!

Expand Your Knowledge

Do you know the ins and outs of 5-card stud? Learn another great poker game to expand your knowledge.

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Frequently Asked Questions


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