Playing 7 Card Stud Poker used to be one of the most popular forms of poker around, at least until the Texas Hold’em boom. It remains a popular and widely played variety.
Like many forms of poker, the rules are simple to learn but the technique and winning formula can take a while to get used to.
Whilst 2 of the most popular forms of poker, Texas Hold’em and Omaha, have community cards, in 7 Card Stud, all players get their own cards that only they can use. You will see 4 of 7 of your opponent’s cards during the hand so you will get a good idea of what they have.
7 Card Stud is available at most of our recommended poker sites, but you will find there are fewer people playing it than other forms, especially at off-peak hours.
7 Card Stud Rules
7 Card Stud uses one deck of 52 cards. As in other forms of poker, cards count at their respective values, whilst Aces count either high or low.
Whilst most forms of poker use ‘blinds’ to ensure there is money in the pot, 7 Card Stud uses antes. This is a small bet paid by every player in the hand before the first cards are dealt.
In order for a hand to commence, one player is designated as the dealer. A small dealer ‘button’ is placed in front of this player to represent the dealer position. Cards will be dealt with starting with the player to the left of this position. Once a hand finishes, the dealer button – and consequently all other positions – move clockwise one position around the table.
Once all players have paid the ante bet, the first cards are dealt. Starting from the player to the left of the dealer, each player is dealt 2 cards face down and 1 card face up, so all other players can view it. The 2 face-down cards are known as the hole cards, with the face-up card commonly referred to as the ‘door’ card. Overall, they are the Starting Hand.
Below is a layout of each of the cards as they are dealt with showing which are face up and which are face down.
The first of 5 betting rounds now take place. The player with the lowest ‘door’ card pays a ‘bring in’ bet, this amount depends on the stakes in play in that particular game. The action then continues from that player going clockwise around the table. The position is important in any form of poker as the later you act in a hand, the more players you will see going before you giving you a better idea of what kind of hand they have.
Players have 3 choices they can make at this point. You can ‘Call’ the current bet – place a bet equal to the largest bet previously made in the hand, in the first betting round this will be at least the value of the big blind. You can ‘Raise’ the current bet – place a larger bet than the previous highest bet, this needs to be at least double the amount. You can also choose to ‘Fold’ – discard your cards and leave the hand, meaning you cannot win the pot but don’t invest any chips either.
The Play or Action continues clockwise around the table until all players have called the highest bet or folded. As the player in the big blind position has already put a bet in, if no one has raised before action returns to them, they have the option to Check if they wish – this is effectively calling the highest bet but without putting any more chips into the pot as they have already placed an amount equal to the highest bet.
Once the betting round has been completed, another card is dealt with all remaining players face up. This is known as 4th street.
We then see the 2nd betting round which is similar to before, the only difference is that the action starts with the player displaying the highest value cards on their upturned cards. If a player shows a pair, they go first, in the event, 2 players have a pair, the highest pair goes first. If 2 players tie for the highest cards, the player who ties and is first to the left of the dealer goes first. As there is no forced bet in this round, the first player to act can check if they wish, effectively calling the current highest bet of 0 and staying in the hand without the need to bet. If another player raises, however, all players will need to place a bet equal to this amount to stay in the hand and see the next card.
Once this betting round is completed, all remaining players get dealt a 5th card face up, known as 5th street. This will give all players 2 cards face down and 3 face-up.
A further betting round now takes place, exactly the same as the last round.
A 6th card is now dealt face up to all remaining players, unsurprisingly this card is known as 6th street.
Below is an image of how an online game would look at this stage, with players having 2 face-down cards and 4 face-up.
A further betting round takes place the same as the last 2.
All remaining players now get a 7th and final card known as the 7th street or the River. This one is dealt face down. As there are only 52 cards in a pack and all players can, in theory, ask for 7 cards, a game of 7 Card Stud is limited to a maximum of 8 players. In the unlikely event that there aren’t enough cards left at this stage for all players to receive the 7th card, 1 card is dealt face up which all players can use. This is very unusual however as it will need all 8 players to remain in the hand until the end.
Once the final cards have been dealt, there is 1 final betting round the same as before. All remaining players then go to showdown to determine the winner of the hand and the pot.
The remaining player to the left of the dealer shows their hand first, the next player needs to show their hand if they can beat it if the previous hand is better, the hand can be ‘mucked’ – thrown away without other players seeing what that player had. This can be important when you are trying to get an idea of how someone plays, an important aspect of poker. Play continues around the table until all players have had the chance to show their hands.
The player with the best 5 card poker hand wins. If 2 5 card poker hands are identical, the pot is split equally. It is important that you understand the hands and their rankings, details of which can be found here if you are unsure of the strength of each, it is a good idea to learn them before playing for real money.
7 Card Stud Strategy
7 Card Stud Strategy 1: Play Hands That Have The Ability To Improve
As the name implies, 7 Card Stud is a seven-card game and therefore you should always look to play hands that have the ability to improve to a nice hand. 3 cards of the same suit, 3 in a row or a high pair are all hands where you should get involved, especially when the pair are on your downturned cards
7 Card Stud Strategy 2: Consider how many others are in the hand…
When you are playing a drawing hand, i.e. looking to hit a flush or straight, the chances of hitting are low, therefore these hands are better when a lot of players are in the hand. When you do hit, your payout will be bigger.
Similarly, if you have a high pair, you are better off with fewer players in the hand as they are more likely to win without improvement.
Strategy 3: The difference between a small pair and a large pair is huge…
If you have a small pair to start, the chances are you will need to improve in order to win the hand. Unless you get a 3rd card or a 2nd pair, you are unlikely to win with a small pair, with a larger pair, however, the chances are much higher even if you don’t improve later in the hand.
Strategy 4: Be aware and beware of ‘scare’ cards…
These are cards that make an upturned hand look good, even if it isn’t. For example, 3 cards the same suit on 3rd, 4th and 5th street can show the real possibility of a flush, if you have these yourself you have a better chance of taking down the pot even if you don’t have another card of the same suit, however, if another player displays 3 the same suit then beware as there is a good chance they could hit their flush.
Strategy 5: It is often worth the chase…
You should certainly be selective in terms of your starting hand, however, once you are in a pot it is often worth going all the way to the end as you never know what card you will hit on the river or which of your opponents will be chasing and missing.
7 Card Stud Tips
Decide on 3rd Street whether or not to stay in the hand – By this point, you will have almost half of your cards and have an idea of what kind of hand you will be going for, whether it be a Flush, Straight, Full House or less. One of the key traits in 7 Card Stud is to be selective on the starting hands you play.
Be aware of what you are up against – Always keep an eye on your opponent’s upturned cards as this gives you a very good idea of the type of hand they are after, never be afraid to fold if they look a lot stronger than you.
Steal the Antes – If you have a strong-looking set of upturned cards, even if your downturned ones don’t help a lot, you can often scare your opponents and steal the blinds by betting big on the strength of these cards. It may not sound a lot, but winning a few hands and keep the blinds can make a difference during a tournament.