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7 card poker: Learn how to play seven card stud

Seven card stud was the poker game of choice until Texas Hold'em reared its head and became the world's most popular poker variant. For many poker players, Stud was their introduction to playing cards. Whether they played 7 Card Stud over the kitchen table with friends and family or hit the online poker world and got their grind on in cash games and tournaments, Seven Card Stud still holds a special place in many players' hearts, even if they now mostly frequent Hold'em and Omaha games.

Learning to play different poker variants is worthwhile, even if you plan to specialise in a specific one. The skills learned playing other games can easily be transferred to your bread-and-butter game, and this is true for seven card stud. There is a lot of information to digest in a typical stud game because many of your and your opponent's cards are displayed face-up. Want to know more about seven card stud? Then keep reading to find out!

What are the main differences between Seven Card Stud and Texas Hold'em or Omaha Poker?

The first significant difference between seven card stud, Texas Hold’em, and Omaha variants are Hold'em and Omaha have community cards in play. Where Hold'em and Omaha have a flop, turn, and river that all active players use to make the best five-card poker hand, there are no community cards in a stud game.

In addition, it is rare to find a stud game that is not played with a fixed betting structure. Compare this to Hold'em, where no-limit is the game of choice, and Omaha, where pot-limit dominates, and you have two significant differences between these three popular games.

The third difference you will notice right off the bat is that there are no blinds in seven-card stud games; Stud uses an ante system, where everyone pays an enforced bet before receiving their cards. The dealer button is still in place, but we will get to that in a little while.

How does a typical stud game play?

As mentioned, every 7-card stud game starts with each player paying an ante. Stud games take place with as few as two and as many as eight players. Once the antes are paid, the dealer begins pitching the first set of cards to each player in a clockwise direction. Everyone receives one hole card face down, then another face down hole card, before receiving one face-up card that, obviously, all the players at the table can see.

Third street

The player with the lowest-value face-up card is the first to act during the first betting round, known as third street, because everyone has three cards; it's simple when you think about it! The player with the lowest-value face-up card must play their hand. They can either "bring-in" or make a full bet of the lowest betting increment. For example, in a $1/$2 cash game where the ante is $0.15, the bring-in may bring in to something like $0.25 or $0.50, while a full bet would be $1.

Once the bring-in has happened, the action moves clockwise until everyone has acted.

Fourth street

If more than one player remains after third street, the dealer pitches another face-up card to the active players. This time, the player with the highest-value exposed card takes the reins and acts first. The player can check or bet the game's lower value, $1 in a $1/$2 cash game. Again, the action moves clockwise until everyone has acted.

Fifth street

We now arrive at fifth street, where the remaining players receive another exposed card. Again, the player with the highest-value face-up card starts the action. They can check or bet the largest amount for the stakes played; for example, $2 in a $1/$2 game.

Sixth street

Once that betting round concludes, players receive another face-up card for sixth street. The rules state the player showing the highest-value poker card on sixth street acts first. If more than one player is still in the hand, the round progresses to seventh street, although some players and card rooms still refer to this street as the river.

Seventh street or the river

The seventh and final card the players receive is dealt face-down. The player with the highest-value exposed cards takes the lead in the betting, and the hands are revealed if at least two players like their hands and have stuck it out until the end.

There are rules for the order of who reveals their cards first. Whoever last bet or raised on seventh street must showdown their hand first. If there was no betting action on seventh street, the order of revealing goes from Seat 1 to Seat 2, and so on.

The hand winner is the player with the best five-card poker hand using the same hand rankings as Hold'em and Omaha games.

A few special seven-card stud rules

The observant readers among you will have no doubt realised that if, on the rare occasion, all eight players get to showdown, that is 64 cards in play, but there are only 52 cards in a deck. What happens here? Although extremely rare, running out of cards before dealing seventh street is possible. If it happens, a single community card is dealt face-up on the table, which all remaining players share.

Another thing to be aware of is that the suits of the cards have different strengths in case of a tie. The suits are ranked alphabetically: Clubs, Diamonds, Hearts, and Spades. Therefore, during third street, if you have the deuce of hearts exposed and someone has the deuce of spades on show, you will be the bring-in. Similarly, if you show down a king-high spade flush and your opponent has the exact same flush, but in diamonds, you win the hand! Thankfully, ties are rare, but this rule is something to be aware of.

Seven card stud FAQs

Q: What betting structure does seven card Stud use?

A: Traditionally, and most commonly, a fixed limit betting structure is used in seven card stud. However, there are instances that the game is played with a no-limit betting structure.

Q: Is it true suits are ranked in stud games?

A: Yes, suits have a ranking in case of a tie. They are ranked alphabetically: Clubs, Diamonds, Hearts, and Spades.

Q: What happens if you run out of cards in 7 card stud?

A: On the rare occasion you run out of cards, the dealer places a face-up community card on the table that all the players share.

Q: Is there a split pot version of seven card stud?

A: Yes. Seven card stud Hi-Low 8 or better is a popular stud variant. The rules follow traditional stud and use Omaha hi-low rules for the split pot element. The best possible low is 5-4-3-2-A, also known as a wheel. When determining the low, you use the highest card first, so 7-6-5-4-3 beats 8-4-3-2-A.