How to play 7-card stud

Poker.Org Staff
Published by:
Posted on: August 25, 2022 6:39 pm EDT

Stud poker is a card game in which some cards are dealt face-down and others face-up, and the game became popular in North America during the American Revolutionary War. Five-card stud poker was the first stud game, but seven-card stud emerged as a more popular variation due to the higher number of betting rounds and hand possibilities.

Seven-card stud remained in vogue throughout most of the 1800s and 1900s as one of the prominent forms of poker played in casinos, saloons, and riverboats, and at home. When Texas Hold’em became popular in the late 1990s and early 2000s, stud fell out of favor for many players, especially the newer, younger audience.

However, older players kept seven-card stud alive. And when those new, young players wanted more game variations, many of them took up stud poker. In fact, the game is now more popular in tournament series than ever before.

What are the rules of 7-card stud?

Seven-card stud is named such because each player can receive seven cards in a hand.

How are the cards dealt?

There are two hole cards that are face-down and hidden from other players, with the next four cards dealt face-up and the very last card face-down. They are—in order after the hole cards—third street (aka “the door”), fourth street, fifth street, sixth street, and seventh street (aka “the river”). 

The goal

The goal is to make the best five-card hand utilizing any of the five cards available to that player. The hand rankings are the same as in any hold’em or Omaha game.

The limitations

Most seven-card stud games are limit games, meaning there are maximum limits to various bets. Also, casinos and tournament operators typically limit seven-card stud games to eight players, due to the number of cards in a deck. In the uncommon case in which the dealer runs out of cards by the river, the dealer may use just one face-up card on the center of the table as the community card.

The potential

Seven-stud is a game of partial information and several betting rounds. It creates the potential for a lot of action and big pots despite the limited betting amounts.

What are the differences between 7-card stud and Texas Hold’em?

Texas Hold’em poker offers each player two hole cards and five face-up community cards. Stud, on the other hand, offers two hole cards and no community cards (unless the dealer runs out of cards). And of the seven cards in stud, three are dealt face-down cards and four face-up. There are also additional rounds of betting and limits on the amount a player can bet.

7-card stud betting and gameplay

Betting begins in seven-card stud after each player possesses two hole cards and one face-up card. That starts the first round of betting, with the player holding the lowest-valued card starting the round with the bring-in. Then, in a clockwise motion, every other player can call the bring-in, raise to a small bet, or fold.

In a $1/$2 poker game, the bring-in will be $0.50, a small bet $1, and a full bet $2.

There are more betting rounds after each additional card is dealt. The bet size in the first two rounds is the small bet, but it increases to the size of the full bet on the last streets. While the person with the lowest card handles the bring-in, the player with the highest hand showing on face-up cards will start all subsequent betting rounds.

Setup

The poker players—a minimum of two to a maximum of eight—begin by putting an ante in the pot if there is one in the game. The dealer gives the first card to the player to the left of the dealer button and then repeats in a clockwise motion around the table. The dealer also controls the button, which moves one seat to the left after every hand.

Each player begins with two cards dealt face-down and the third card (also known as the door card) face-up. Players then look at their hole cards and the action begins.

The bring

There are no blinds, so the betting begins after each player has three cards. The person with the lowest up-card or door card will start the betting with the bring-in. This amount is required to be half of the small bet. In a $1/$2 game, it would be $0.50. Some games declare the bring-in amount to be the same as the ante. Each casino or game host makes that decision prior to the game.

If two players hold the same low cards, the cards are ranked by suits. The club is the lowest value, followed by the diamond, heart, and then the spade.

After the bring-in, each player can fold, call, or raise the size of the small bet. 

Betting rounds

There is a betting round after each face-up card. The betting round after fourth street, or the fourth card, starts with the player displaying face-up cards of the highest value, usually a pair of a high-card. That player can check or bet the small bet. 

The betting round after fifth street starts with the player who has the highest value of shown cards, but this time, the player can bet the big amount. In this $1/$2 game, that would be $2. Raises are the same required size.

Sixth-street betting happens the same way. The final card—or seventh street, as it is the seventh card—is dealt face-down. Betting again begins with the player showing the highest-ranking hand.

Showdown

The showdown happens when there are still two or more players in the hand after the final round of betting. The last person to bet or raise shows their hand first, discarding two cards and showing their best five-card hand. The other player can then show or muck, the latter if they know they lost.

If there was no betting in the final round, the person to the left of the dealer button is the first player required to show their cards. If two players show the exact same hand, they will split the pot.

Hand rankings in 7-card stud

The hand rankings in seven-card stud are the same as in hold’em, Omaha, and other stud games. The rankings are as follows:

  • High card: In the absence of any pairs or better, the highest card wins. The highest card possible is the ace, then king, etc. If two cards show the same value, the higher value goes to the spade, then the heart, diamond, and finally the club.
  • One pair: This is two cards of the same value, i.e. two nines.
  • Two pair: This is two pairs of cards of the same value, i.e. fives and kings.
  • Three of a kind: Three cards of the same value equal three of a kind, also called a set.
  • Straight: Five cards in sequential number/value order are a straight, i.e. J-T-9-8-7.
  • Flush: If all five cards of the chosen hand are all of the same suit, it is a flush.
  • Full house: A full house consists of three of one card value and two of another, i.e. K-K-7-7-7.
  • Four of a kind: This is four cards of the same value, i.e. quad jacks.
  • Straight flush: All cards in the same sequential order and of the same suit comprise a straight flush, i.e. J-T-9-8-7 all hearts.
  • Royal flush: The royal flush is the highest hand possible and must contain A-K-Q-J-T of the same suit. 

If two players hold the same high card, there is a standard way to determine the value by suit. Most casinos accept this method of ranking them in alphabetical order. Clubs are the lowest value, followed by diamonds and hearts, with spades being the highest-valued suit.

In a high-low game, cards are ranked in the opposite direction. The ace plays low, and the best possible hand is A-2-3-4-5. The next best hand would be A-2-3-4-6. The pattern continues with all values below an eight.

What are the different variations of 7-card stud?

There are many variations of seven-card stud, with Razz being the most popular and Mississippi also fairly well-known. There is also the baseball version, “down the river,” and the standard high-low stud. Some of the lesser-known games include Low Chicago, One-Eyed Jacks, and Suicide King.

Down the river

Down the river is another name for the high version of seven-card stud. It was also known as Seven-Toed Pete at one time. Some also write the game’s name as seven-stud or 7-stud.

Mississippi

Mississippi stud changes the nature of the cards dealt in that the fourth and fifth cards are face-up at the same time. This takes out a round of betting on fourth street. It also escalates betting as players receive two cards in one round.

High-low stud

When playing the increasingly popular high-low stud, the high hand plays as usual but a low hand is also in play. If a player has a low hand, it is a five-card poker hand without any cards above an eight. If there is one player with a high hand and one with a low hand, the players split the pot.

Baseball

In this version of seven-card stud, aces play both ways in straights but only the highest hand wins. Three and nines are wild, and a face-up four garners an extra card for that player. That extra card is dealt immediately before the round of dealing is finished.

Razz

Razz is a popular variant of seven-card stud, and it’s played with three initial cards—two face-down and one face-up. The first betting round starts with the player showing the highest card, instead of the lowest (it’s reversed because razz is the low form of stud). Fourth-street and fifth-street betting starts with the player showing the lowest card. All five cards must be of distinct values and as low as possible. In razz, the best hand is A-2-3-4-5.

The takeaway

Seven-card stud’s rise in popularity in the 2000s was a result of a desire for more mixed game options. It now exists as the “S” in HORSE games, which makes it a staple in most casino tournament series, including the World Series of Poker.

Featured image source: Flickr by Poker Photos used under CC license