7 Card Stud - Rules & game technics for on-line & off-line

Since its sharp spike in popularity in the 18th century, Stud poker has been around much longer than other poker variants. For many centuries, it even surpassed Texas Hold’em as poker’s most popular game (until the middle of the 20th Century)! There have been many forms of Stud that have been played over the years – from 4-card Stud to 5-card and beyond – but today, the most common of the Stud formats is 7 Card Stud.


While Stud’s popularity is surpassed now by more common poker variants like Hold’em and Omaha, you can still find Stud played live today in select casinos, home games, and major poker circuits. In addition, many online websites offer Stud games in cash game and tournament formats.


Unlike in Hold’em and Omaha, each player, each player is dealt up to 7 cards (4 face-up, 3 face-down) that are separate from everyone else's. If they stay into the river, they must use 5 of those 7 cards to make the best 5-card poker hand. In other words, there are no community cards dealt in Stud, which creates a unique and interesting gameplay dynamic, in comparison to other poker forms.


Let’s get started and understand how a hand of Stud works while we learn the basic rules of the game.


 Getting Started with 7 Card Stud


Stud is a game typically played with a maximum of 8 players per hand. On the rare occasions, in live poker scenarios where there is a “burn” card, on 7th street (the river) there wouldn't be enough cards left in a 52-card deck for each player to receive a card. Therefore, on those rare occasions, a community card is dealt on the river that can be used by all players as their 7th  street (river) card.


At the start of each hand, each player must “ante-up,” and place a small, predetermined amount of chips into the pot. (Note: There are no blinds used in the game of Stud.) Once these antes are paid, every player is dealt three cards: 2 face-down and 1 face-up (also referred to as an “up card” or the “door card”).


Now, this is where it gets even more different to Hold'em. The player who is the forced bet – akin to the blinds in Hold'em – is the player with the worst door card. They must pay a mandatory bet called a “bring-in”, which is a portion of the small bet in fixed limit Stud Games.


 Betting Limits


While some forms of Stud (especially those with a smaller number of betting rounds) may adopt a no-limit or pot-limit format, games with more betting rounds (such as 7 Card Stud) are typically played in a limit format. The earlier betting rounds will have a Small Bet while later rounds with have an increased (doubled) limit, called the Big Bet.


For example, in a $1/$2 Stud game, the betting limits for the various 5 rounds would be ($1, $1, $2, $2, $2):


  • $1 on 3rd street
  • $1 on 4th street
  • $2 on 5th street
  • $2 on 6th street
  • $2 on 7th street (aka the river)


From one casino to another, though, some enforce the smaller bet for the first 2 betting rounds (as in the example above) while in other places, it may be required for first 3 betting rounds (i.e. $1, $1, $1, $2, $2).


Some places even have third increased betting limit once players get to the river (i.e. $1, $1, $2, $2, $4). Be sure to double-check with your poker host on how the betting limits may vary throughout the game for their specific location and poker offerings.


 Betting Rounds


3rd Street:

As mentioned, while there are no blinds in the game of Stud, once each player receives his hand, the player with the lowest card is required to commence the betting with something called the “bring-in” bet. As we've already stated, the amount of the bring-in bet is equal to a percentage of the table's smaller stake (small bet).


If two or more players hold the same card, the suit of the upcard is used to determine who must “bring it in”. This is the only occasion in Stud Poker where the suits are relevant.


From lowest to highest, the ranking of the suits is as follows:


  • Clubs
  • Diamonds
  • Hearts
  • Spades


The “bring-in” player can choose to raise it up to the small bet stake. This is called “completing”. From here, play continues around the table in a clockwise direction, and players may either call the value of the bring-in bet, raise, or fold (discard) their hand.


4th Street

Once the initial betting round concludes, the remaining players in the hand are dealt another up-card. After this, another betting round begins. For this round (and later rounds, too), betting always commences with the player whose up-cards hold the highest ranked poker hand available.


For example, at this point (with just 2 cards face-up), the best up-card combination would be one pair of Aces. Once the initial player acts, the betting round continues clockwise around the table, where players may either check, bet or raise (or bet or call), in turn.


5th Street

After 4th street, a fifth card is dealt face-up, which means players now have two cards face-down and three cards face-up (for all of their opponents to see.) At this time, a 3rd betting round commences, with the same betting rules as 4th street: the person with the best hand of up-cards starts the betting. (At this point, the best hand of up-cards would be 3-of-a-kind.)


6th Street

Once the previous betting round concludes, a fourth card is dealt face-up to remaining players. Now, they each have two of their original cards face-down and the remaining four face-up. Another betting round occurs.


7th Street

Players who make it this far in the hand receive one final card, face-down. They now have 3 cards face-down and 4 cards face-up. They must determine what the best 5-card poker hand is using the 7 cards on their individual boards. One final betting round occurs and, if two or more players still remain in the hand, a “showdown” is reached.


 7 Card Stud Showdown


A showdown indicates the ultimate conclusion of a poker hand. Players still in the hand at this point reveal their holdings and reveal their best 5-card hand. The player who has the best poker hand, according to traditional poker hand rankings, wins the pot. If more than one player has the exact same hand (e.g. Two Pair, Queens and Jacks Queens with an Ace kicker), then the pot is divided evenly amongst them.


Note that suits do not carry any hand ranking value at showdown.


Now you know a little bit about the game of 7 Card Stud and how it's played, why not give it a go?