The Quick 8-Step Guideline to Learning 7 Card Stud

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Dating back to the mid-1800’s, 7 Card Stud is a style of poker has been around a long time and was easily the most common form of poker into the 1980s when Texas Hold'em took over the number one spot. It is thought to have originated in America’s Mid-West, but it's very different to Texas Hold'em.

What is 7 Card Stud?

For starters, instead of 5 community cards, each player receives their own individual board (consisting of up to 7 cards!) For this reason, only a maximum of eight players can play at a Stud table at any given time. However, like Hold’em, the best five-card poker hand still wins the pot. So, even though 7 Card Stud features 7 cards dealt to each player by the river, only 5 cards on a player's individual board can be used to make the best 5-card hand.

Also, 7 Card Stud is normally played in a fixed-limit format where the smaller bet is wagered for the first two betting rounds, and the larger bet is wagered for the last three betting rounds (on the fifth, sixth, and seventh cards). If there is an open pair on the fourth card, any player has the option of upping the stakes to the larger bet.

Now that we’ve touched on the basics, here’s our simple and easy-to-follow guide on 7 Card Stud to get you started.

How to Play Seven Card Stud

Bring-ins and Antes

Seven Card Stud does not include any blinds. Instead, players have to pay an ante at the start of every new hand. Each player is dealt 2 cards face-down (downcards) and 1 card face-up (upcard). There is a forced bet called a “bring-in”. The player with the worst upcard (the 2 of clubs is the worst possible), at the start of each hand, must post this compulsory bet.

First Betting Round – Third Street

Firstly, an ante is collected from each player and then the first 2 cards (technically 1st and 2nd Streets) are dealt face-down; a third card – called 3rd Street – is dealt face-up. The bring-in (player with worst upcard) is first to act, and they must put in the minimum bet or “complete” to the lower limit stake. Action continues around the table with players being able to fold, complete or raise (if there is a prior completion).

Note that the completion is not considered a raise. For example, in a $10/$20 the lowcard (bring-in) opens for $5. If the next player increases the bet to $15 (completes the bet), up to three raises are then allowable.

Second Betting Round – Fourth Street

During 4th Street, another card is dealt face up to each active player. The table stakes are still set at the lower limit. Good news for the bring-in: First to act is no longer the player with the worst upcard! The player with the best upcards gets that honour. Action continues clockwise around the table with players being able to check, bet, call, raise (capped at 4 x table stakes in a limit format) or fold – depending on the prior action.

Third Betting Round – Fifth Street

On 5th Street, the minimum bet is raised to the upper table stakes limit. Time to start building the pot! This card is also dealt face-up. Again, first to act is the player with the best upcards. Action continues around the table with players being able to check, bet, call, raise (capped at 4 x table stakes) or fold – depending on the previous action.

Fourth Betting Round – Sixth Street

By the time 6th Street is dealt, each player remaining active in the hand should have 4 cards face-up, and two face-down (“in the hole”). First to act is still the player with the best cards/ hand showing. Players can check, bet, call, raise (capped at 4 x upper table stakes) or fold – depending on the prior action. But, if you don't have the makings of a hand by now, we suggest you might want to fold.

Fifth Betting Round – Seventh Street

During the 5th betting round (also called the River), players are still able to check, bet, call, raise or fold. Now it's time for the Showdown, as long as 2 or more players remain. At this stage, the player with the best 5-card hand, according to the standard hand ranking system, will win the pot.

Note that a hand with more than seven cards is dead. A hand with less than seven cards at the showdown is also considered dead. There is an exception where any player missing a seventh card may have the hand ruled live.

Also, if there are more players left on the river than cards in the deck, the does not burn, so that each player can receive a fresh card. A common or community card will be dealt face-up in the centre of the table for all active players in the hand to use. The player who is now high using the common card starts the action in the last round.

Showdown

Even though 7 Card Stud features7 cards dealt to each player by the river, at showdown, only 5 cards on a player's individual board can be used to make the best 5-card hand. The hand rankings are exactly the same as in Texas Hold'em, with a Royal Flush being the best possible hand and High Card being the worst.

Not that, suits don't count in the Stud Poker Hand Ranking system except for deciding the bring-in, where Clubs are the worst, Diamonds are third, Hearts are second best and Spades rank top.

Table Positions In Stud

Seven Card Stud does not include any blinds. Instead, players have to pay an ante at the start of every new hand. Each player is dealt 2 cards face-down (downcards) and 1 card face-up (upcard). There is a forced bet called a “bring-in”. The player with the worst upcard (the 2 of clubs is the worst possible), at the start of each hand, must post this compulsory bet. This is totally opposite to Hold'em where there are two blinds.

Newbie Tip: If you happen to be the bring-in twice in a row, look on the bright side. It can't happen a third time in a row, can it?

Poker Hand Rankings

Even though 7 Card Stud features7 cards dealt to each player by the river, only 5 cards on a player's individual board can be used to make the best 5-card hand. Don't get too overwhelmed;  this bit is easy. The hand rankings are exactly the same as in Texas Hold'em, with a Royal Flush being the best possible hand and High Card being the worst.


Newbie Tip: Suits don't count in the Stud Poker Hand Ranking system except for deciding the bring-in, where Clubs are the worst, Diamonds are third, Hearts are second best and Spades rank top.

First Betting Round (3rdh Street) Action

Firstly, an ante is collected from each player and then the first 2 cards (technically 1st and 2nd Streets) are dealt face-down; a third card – called 3rd Street – is dealt face-up. The bring-in  (player with worst upcard) is first to act and they must put in the minimum bet or “complete” to the lower limit stake. Action continues around the table with players being able to fold, complete or raise (if there is a prior completion).


Newbie Tip: Since there are no community cards in Stud poker games, all active players are dealt up to 7 cards over the course of up to 7 streets. (Now you don't have to share with anyone.)

Second Betting Round (4th Street) Action

During 4th Street, another card is dealt face up to each active player. The table stakes are still set at the lower limit. Good news for the bring-in: First to act is no longer the player with the worst upcard! The player with the best upcards gets that honour. Action continues clockwise around the table with players being able to check, bet, call, raise (capped at 4 x table stakes in a limit format) or fold – depending on the prior action.

Newbie Tip: Because the “first to act” player is set by their upcards, position can change from one street to the next. So you have to be on your toes when following the action.

Third Betting Round (5th Street) Action

On 5th Street, the minimum bet is raised to the upper table stakes limit. Time to get some serious money into the pot! This card is also dealt face-up. Again, first to act is the player with the best upcards (just take a peep at the standard Poker Hand Ranking System to check). Action continues around the table with players being able to check, bet, call, raise (capped at 4 x table stakes) or fold – depending on the previous action. 

Newbie Tip: In 7 Card Stud Rules, 5th Street is similar to the Turn in Hold'em and is sometimes called this by long-time players. 

Fourth Betting Round (6th Street) Action

By the time 6th Street is dealt, each player remaining active in the hand has 4 cards face-up, and two face-down (“in the hole”). First to act is still the player with the best cards/ hand showing. Players can check, bet, call, raise (capped at 4 x upper table stakes) or fold – depending on the prior action. But, if you don't have the makings of a hand by now, we suggest you might want to fold.
Newbie Tip: You are only able to use the cards on your own board to make a hand. If the card you want falls on another player's hand, you'll just have to do without!

Fifth Betting Round (7th Street) Action

During the 5th betting round (also called the River), players are still able to check, bet, call, raise or fold. Now it's time for the best bit –  Showdown (as long as 2 or more players remain). At this stage, the player with the best 5-card hand, according to the standard hand ranking system, will win the pot. (Hopefully, that's you.)
Newbie Trivia: If all 8 players stay in to the river, only 4 cards would remain in the deck – not enough for a 7th Street card for each player. Solution? 1 card – called a Community Card – is dealt to be used by all players. Bingo!

Ready for a New Hand?

After showdown, a new hand is dealt and a fresh round of betting begins. And, you'll be excited to know that this time around, you'll have another chance to practise how to play 7 Card Stud. As we've said (and you've probably figured out by now), this game has a unique style of betting mixed in with a dollop of quirky rules. But, that's all part of its appeal.
 
7 Card Stud tables are always open at our online poker room – take your seat, a new round is about to get started!

7 Card Stud Takes on Hold'em!

As much as we love Hold'em, Stud Poker has a unique style that just makes you want to play more. It takes patience and a decent amount of skill to get really good at this form of poker, but it's well worth the effort. Here are just a few differences that make 7 Card Stud so great: 

  • No blinds – just antes, and if you're lucky you won't be the bring-in for several rounds! 
  • You're never under-the-gun unless you're the bring-in. 
  • You get a whole board of 7 cards to yourself – no sharing! 
  • With 4 of the 7 cards dealt face up, you get to see where certain cards are – if you're on a draw. 
  • How cool is it to have rolled Aces (3 Aces, 1 face-up and 2 face-down) as a starting hand?

For the official 7 Card Stud rules to the game, including all terms and conditions, please click here.

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