STRATEGY

Rules of 7 Card Stud Poker

For many years, if you went to a poker room or a card house, the most popular game that people were playing was Seven-Card Stud. The reason that this game was such a hit was the fact that it allowed both new and experienced players to learn strategy and get better without too much of a learning curve. A big part of the appeal of this game is the fact that you can see most of your opponents hands while you’re betting, so you can figure out what they are going for and bet accordingly. Unlike Texas Hold Em or Omaha games where you have to look at a shared board, with  7 Card Stud rules you have to compare your hand to everyone else’s.

Today we’ll look at the dynamics of this game and show you some common tips, tricks, and strategies that you can use to dominate the tables and rack up big winnings. Seven-Card Stud is much more a game of skill than Omaha or Hold ‘Em, so if you’re not the type of person who wants to think while you play, you may want to avoid the game entirely. Seven-Card Stud is ideal for anyone who wants a challenge and loves the game of Poker.

7 Card Stud Rules – Basics

The best way to learn about a new game is to start playing it, so we’re going to kick things off by going over the basic rules and terminology that you’ll experience on the tables. Then, once you’ve gotten the fundamentals down, we’ll show you a few sample hands so you can get an idea of what to look for when you play.

Gameplay

Seven-Card Stud is broken up into four distinct sections: the setup, the bring, the betting rounds (there are four of these) and the showdown. Let’s break each section down into detail.

Setup

For most Stud games, the table has what’s called a fixed limit, which means that you can only bet, raise, and call a specific amount. Some people prefer to play 7 Card Stud rules with no limit, but that has a slightly different method of play. To start off, we’ll stick with fixed betting so you can learn the fundamentals.

In the setup, everyone puts in an ante and the dealer starts dealing cards to the left. If you are playing at a card room, there will be a dealer button that moves around to each player so the dealing will rotate.

To start, each player will get two face-down cards and one face-up card. The face-down cards are known as hole cards, and the face-up card is called the door card (or the up-card). Once everyone has their cards, we move to the next section, which is the Bring.

The Bring

All poker games have different rules to determine where betting starts. In Hold ‘Em, for example, it’s always the person to the left of the big blind. In 7 Card Stud rules, however, the action is determined by whoever has the lowest door card.  Aces are high, so a two of any suit will be the lowest possible. If two people are tied for lowest card, then the suit will determine the “loser” (alphabetical from weakest to strongest: Clubs, Diamonds, Hearts, Spades).  Once that person is set, he or she “brings it in”, which means that betting will commence. Once the loser makes a bet, it will continue clockwise until all players are either in the pot or have folded.

7 Card Stud Rules - The Bring

Betting Rounds

What sets Seven-Card Stud apart from other games is the number of betting rounds that you have. In a game like Hold ‘Em there are only four rounds of betting, including the initial blind. In Stud, however, you have five total rounds including the Bring, so you could potentially make a lot with each pot. However, realistically most hands don’t go all the way to the Showdown and a player will sweep long before the last round of betting starts. Regardless, let’s go over each betting round, so you know what to expect.

Fourth Street

Before we get into fourth street betting, just know that the number of the street refers to the amount of cards each player has. After the Bring, the rest of the betting for the initial round is called Third Street since everyone has only three cards. Fourth Street refers to the fact that everyone gets a fourth card, then starts betting.

7 Card Stud Rules - 4th Street

In Fourth Street betting, each player is dealt another up card. Unlike in the Bring, every other betting round begins with the player who has the highest value cards showing. So, for example, if someone has a high pair of up cards and no one else has a pair, then he or she will begin the betting. If no pairs are showing, then it will be determined by the two highest single cards, coming down to the suit if necessary.

With each round of betting, the starting player has the option to check or bet, and all subsequent players can either call or raise the initial bet, or check if no one bets at all. Also, anyone can fold at any time.

Fifth Street

After Fourth Street is finished, the remaining players are dealt another up card, bringing the total number of cards to five. Again, betting starts with the player who has the highest hand showing, and moves clockwise until everyone has called or folded. In Fifth Street betting, the highest hand that can be showing is three of a kind. Thus, even if you have a flush in your hand with all five cards, you may not have the highest visible cards and thus may not start the betting.

7 Card Stud Rules - 5th Street

Sixth Street

After Fifth Street is done, Sixth Street betting commences. This round is identical to the previous one, meaning all remaining players get one up-card and betting starts with the highest visible hand.

7 Card Stud Rules - 6th Street

Seventh Street (Final Round)

The last round of betting is completed after each player receives a final card. This last card is dealt face down, so betting will still start with the highest visible cards, regardless of whatever your seventh card is.

7 Card Stud Rules - 7th Street

The Showdown

If there are two or more players still in after Seventh Street betting, then they show their cards and make the best possible poker hand. Only five cards can be used to make a regulation poker hand. The person with the highest hand wins the pot.

Example Hands

To help you visualize the different rounds, let’s provide a sample hand for you.

There are four players. Round one starts, and they all receive three cards.

Setup

Player One
Hole Cards: A♦4♣
Door Card: K♠

Player Two
Hole Cards: 6♣5♣
Door Card: 7♠

Player Three
Hole Cards: T♥J♦
Door Card: A♥

Player Four
Hole Cards: 3♠T♦
Door Card: 8♣

The Bring

Player Two has the lowest Door Card, so he or she will start the betting process. Let’s say that Player Two folds, and the rest of the players continue to the next round.

Fourth Street

All cards are dealt, and these are the new hands.

Player One
Hole Cards: A♦4♣
Up Cards: K♠K♦

Player Three
Hole Cards: T♥J♦
Up Cards: A♥6♥

Player Four
Hole Cards: 3♠T♦
Up Cards: 8♣2♣
For this betting round, Player One has the highest visible cards with a pair of kings, so they will start. For this example, we’ll say that Player Four folds, so only Player One and Three are in the next round.

Fifth Street Betting

Player One
Hole Cards: A♦4♣
Up Cards: K♠K♦3♥

Player Three
Hole Cards: T♥J♦
Up Cards: A♥6♥A♠

For this round of betting, Player Three now has the highest visible hand, meaning they will start.

Sixth Street Betting

Player One
Hole Cards: A♦4♣
Up Cards: K♠K♦3♥7♦

Player Three
Hole Cards: T♥J♦
Up Cards: A♥6♥A♠6♠
In this case, Player Three still has the highest visible hand, so he will start the betting. For this example, we’ll say that Player One folds since there is little chance of beating player three.

Overall, this example should give you an idea of how to determine who starts the betting and what the game should look like.

Betting Strategy

Typically speaking, you don’t want to get sucked into multiple rounds of betting unless you have a solid hand. What you have to remember is that not only can you see what your opponents have, but they can see your hand too. Thus, if you continue to bet with a weak looking hand, you may wind up losing much more than you want to.

There is, however, one upside to betting what looks like a bad hand. If your hole cards are decent enough, and you know that they can beat whatever is showing on the table, then you can use it to your advantage and continue betting, even when your opponents try to buy you out. This is a risky way to play, however, so do so with caution.

There is something of a golden rule regarding Seven-Card Stud, and it’s that you should only play “premium” hands. Typically, what this means is that you should only play Jacks or better split, nines or better in the hole, or three high cards to a flush. What does that mean? Let’s break it down:

Jacks or better split: this means that you have a pair of Jacks or better, with one being in the hole and the other being your door card.

Nines or better in the hole: this means that your two hole cards are a pair of nines or better.

Three high cards to a flush: this means that you have three strong connector cards or three cards that are suited.

Player Exercise

To help you understand these concepts a bit better, here are three starting hands. Which one should you bet?

Hand One

Hole Cards: 3♣8♠
Door Card: 9♠

Hand Two

Hole Cards: 6♦Q♠
Door Card: Q♦

Hand Three

Hole Cards: 8♣8♦
Door Card: T♥

The correct answer is that you should bet hand two since you have a high pair. If you were feeling lucky, you could bet hand three, but that is a significant risk.

Remember This

Here are some general tips to help you through the game.

  • Only play premium hands
  • Pay attention to your opponent’s cards
  • If you have a chase hand (making a straight or a flush) then don’t be afraid to go all the way
  • High cards can be more valuable for the long game
  • High pairs are excellent in the short game (no showdown)
  • Either raise or fold, don’t call (unless you’re baiting your opponent)
  • Pay attention to when people fold, as well as what up cards they have when they do
  • Be aggressive in the beginning to weed out weak players

Rules of Seven Card Stud Poker – Conclusion

Overall, Seven-Card Stud is a thinking man’s game. To get better at it and to win more hands you have to pay attention to the entire table. The reason that Hold ‘Em and Omaha are so popular these days is that they are so easy to play, so keep in mind that most of the Stud players you come up against will be experienced and smart.  If you think you have the goods, you could try taking on one of the PokerStars tournaments for challenging stud games.

Above all, pay attention to the table and watch your opponents so that you can see what kinds of hands they play, when they fold, and when they raise. The more information you can get about your fellow players, the better off you’ll be in the long run. Finally, the only way to get better is to play more often, so get out there and don’t be afraid to lose. Even if you lose everything, you should still get a lot of experience out of it, so don’t fret. If you want to know some of the best places to play stud poker, see our list of the 5 Best Stud Poker Sites.

We hope you found these tips helpful and you enjoy putting it into practice as you learn to play 7 Card Stud Rules Poker.


I'm a tech geek who enjoys extreme sports, computing and, of course, an avid poker enthusiast.


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