Seven-card Stud: All You Need to Know

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Seven-card Stud: All You Need to Know

As far back as the civil war, seven-card stud has always been a popular game, with its first audience being soldiers in that war. Many years after this, seven-card stud became the game of choice as gamblers from Texas migrated to the circuit in the middle years of the 1900s. 

Sevenard stud was the most popular of the poker variants for many years, before being surplanted by Texas hold’em. Today, many players believe it to be the purest form of poker for its increased gameplay difficulty and rich history.We cannot say it is the best version of poker around; but it is worth knowing. Knowing how to play this poker variant helps to make navigating through eight-game or other mixed games smooth. Every serious poker player should know how to play multiple poker variants, making seven card stud poker worth learning.

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Texas Hold’em Vs. Seven-card Stud

Let’s look at how seven-card stud varies from other poker variants. The two most popular poker variants available to players at legal poker rooms are Omaha and Texas hold’em. Comparing the latter to seven-card stud poker, the differences are obvious. Compared to Texas hold’em, in  seven-card stud

  • Players need to fold up the cards during the game
  • The maximum number of players is usually eight
  • Compared to four betting rounds in Texas hold’em, there are five in seven-card stud.
  • No community cards are available.
  • A dealer button is absent here, and seven-card stud dealing begins from the immediate left of the dealer.
  • Before cards are dealt, there isn’t any positional advantage. What determines who begins first or last is the cards.
  • The lucky player with the best hand always begins the action at each betting round. We expect from the first betting round that it is the lowest up-card that starts.
  • Instead of using blinds, ante and bring-in bets are employed in seven-card stud.

Rules of Seven-card Stud

It is important to note that the hand ratings used in seven-card stud poker are of high standard, and the best hand in the game is the royal flush. Betting rounds in this game are different from other poker variants as blinds are replaced with antes. 

Hand Rankings

Below is a list of hand ratings used in this poker variant. We’ve listed them from lowest to highest.

  • Royal flush: A straight flush running from 10 to ace.
  • Straight flush: Any five consecutive cards of a similar suit.
  • 4 of a kind: Four cards of the same rank.
  • Full house: The combination of a three-of-a-kind and a pair.
  • Flush: Five cards of a similar suit.
  • Straight: Five consecutive cards.
  • Three of a kind: Three cards of the same rank.
  • 2-air: A combination of two pairs.
  • Pair: Two cards of the same rank.
  • High card: A hand with no combination – the highest ranked card is what confers its value.

Furthermore, there is also the hi/lo variant where the pot is split in half, with half given to the highest ranked hands and the other half to the low hand. Note that Hi/Lo is an entirely different ball game; it is much more complex and won’t be the subject of discussion in this article. 

How Sevenard Stud is Dealt

One of the differences between this game and other poker variants is that there isn’t a designated dealer. To win at stud tables, it is crucial to understand seven-card stud dealing. Here, the player starts when every player has wagered an ante and has entered the pot. The table limits or house determine the ante’s value. For instance, the ante for a $10/$20 limit seven-card stud game could be $1. 

After completing this step, the dealing begins and every player gets three cards each. The first cards, called the hole cards, are dealt face down, while the third is known as the door card and is dealt facing upwards.

Betting Rounds

To begin the game, a player needs to place a bring-in bet. Bring-in bets can be as low as $5. What determines who makes the bring-in bet is the floor card, with the lowest ranking of these cards being the deciding factor. The player in question could also “complete” – aka the first raise – which could be a $10 bet. 

Complete bets are usually the same in value as the lower limit, and bring-ins are usually half of the same. The player takes off from this point and plays the clock wisely on the table; the remaining players can make the following choices:

  • Raise
  • Fold
  • Call

For instance, if the first players make a bring-in of $5, the others can use $10 for a “complete.” This is the first raise in such a game. 

The fourth street card is dealt after every player on the table has gotten their acting chance. Since seven-card stud doesn’t have a button that helps to determine who begins, the player with the highest ranking card starts. This player eventually continues through the remainder of the streets.

At this point, another betting round opens, preceded by the fifth street. It is dealt face-up and followed by a new betting round. Next comes the dealing of the sixth card, faceup, followed by another betting round. The seventh street is the final stage and the seventh card is dealt facing down. At this point, there is a final betting round that includes a showdown where the players reveal the best five-card poker hand; the highest ranked hand is crowned the winner.

Seven-card stud is usually of a fixed limit nature with unique money limits ascribed to each street. Considering the above limits of $10/$20, it simply means that for each bet, the third and fourth limits will be $10, while those of the fifth, sixth, and seventh streets are $20. There is an exception to this rule as players can place a bet double in value to the limits if that player  has a pair of face-up cards on the fourth street. 

Exhausting Cards

Is it possible to get low on or out of cards in seven-card stud? Yes! If there are eight players on the table, and the street is due, the player has no choice but to put the last card in the middle of the table and label the card the community card for other players.

Basic Strategy of Seven-card Stud

You need much of the same knowledge and skills used to navigate through Omaha and Texas hold’em to be victorious in seven-card stud poker. Although stud poker only recently became popular again compared with the other poker variants, it is available in all online poker rooms. Today, wise players can also profit from stud poker because most poker players have migrated to engage in Texas hold’em.

In this section, you will discover the fundamental strategy required to emerge a rake-even player. There are other tactics you need to start raking in profits at these tables, and you will find some of these strategies, including those for hi/lo games in this section.

Hand Strength

Texas hold’em and stud poker differ significantly in the hand strengths provided. However, it is safe to say that Omaha’s hand strength is similar to those in stud poker. For instance, in Texas hold’em, a simple high pair often wins the game, but in seven-card stud poker, one pair isn’t a strong hand; most players often reveal their pairs at the third, fourth, fifth, or sixth street. What is required to declare a win is often a three-of-a-kind or a higher-ranking card in the showdown. 

It is usually best to begin with rolled-up aces as they are the best starting hands. Here, players are dealt two aces – one face-up, and the other face-down. There is a minimal window for making a loss here as this hand is a strong one. So, you’re in an advantageous position if given rolled-up cards.

Fundamental Strategy

Don’t forget the cards.

The most crucial step is to remember all the cards that other players have played. This alone puts you in a good place to win. This is because you can only see your opponent’s high-ranking card when the cards are face-up, but it can be tricky when they become hidden (face-down). One of the struggles most players experience is remembering which cards have been dealt. Here are a few tips that could help you out.

Fundamental Strategy

Hint 1:

You’re not a computer, so you don’t need to remember every card on the table. The only ones you need to keep an eye on are those that matter to your present hand. The challenge is that any card can threaten your game.

The only time you can safely ignore cards is when you possess a set of three high cards or three low ones. You can  ignore face cards if you have three low cards; however, do not ignore aces because you can utilize them to play a five high. If you don’t have an ace but have three high cards, you can forget the low cards. 

Having a set means you can easily ignore any other cards; however, you need to be aware of the folded card values to know your next move – especially whether you can make a full house in the next hand. 

Hint 2:

If you have three of your initial cards in different suits, then ignore the suits. Knowing suits that have been played by other players can help you determine the chances that an opponent has a flush late at hand. This doesn’t come in handy that often. You will need to remember the card ranks to find out how they could affect your odds later in the hand.

Hint 3:

In the case of having two cards out of your first three in a similar suit, the only suit you need to track is theirs. The chances of drawing one flush using two or three suited cards are low, but it does happen.

Hint 4:

You can train yourself to recall all the cards dealt and revealed in every hand. Begin by tracking both your cards and those of other players. Doing this will help relieve the pressure of trying to recount every single detail, especially if you start from yours and trace back to the folded cards. 

You will need to work on this for each hand till you have it mastered. Keep practicing this strategy! It might take weeks or months, but you will keep making progress. 

Initially, it might be hard to keep pace because of how tough memorizing the cards could be. However, your consolation lies in the fact that it is a learned skill, and your brain will eventually get the hang of it. 

Hand Selection (Starting)

After recollecting all the cards dealt, and those folded, the next major factor is starting hand selection. This depends on what your rival has as up cards. Some hands should be played while others shouldn’t – regardless of the scenario. 

Three-of-a-kind and three-suited hands are the best to begin. Other hands that could be favorably dealt are three unsuited hands and other three-card stud hands that work together. The player who plays with the best starting hand earns a huge percentage most of the time compared with the others. 

Starting hands in every game are purely a matter of chance and depend on the shuffle. However, as the game proceeds, you will get the same variety of starting hands as the other players. This means you need to maximize or fold hands that ordinarily may not give you massive profits, but you can be sure that the profits will still come in if you play with finesse.

Note that low hands with no pairs are poor and you should fold them as soon as you discover them during the game. Hands without straight or flush possibilities and three cards that don’t work/go together are equally poor.

Always watch out for trap hands. It is also vital to know that starting hands with low and medium pairs can be played in most games, and may rarely be winners even if they do not improve. The trick is to know when you should keep drawing to get a two-pair or three-of-a-kind, and when to opt out of the hand.

Pot Control

The biggest weapon in your arsenal is your capacity to influence the pot size. Initially, you might not agree that you have a strong influence because you will mostly be calling and checking when drawing, regarding a better hand, or betting and raising when you have a good hand. However, note that all the stated actions are ways to control the size of the pot.

It is usually wise to pump in as much money into the pot when things are in your favor and put in little when you aren’t the favorite. The problem is when to know when you’re favored and when you aren’t. 

It is actually quite easy to know when you aren’t the game’s favorite. For instance, if you’re drawing to a flush or straight, it usually means you’re behind. So, you shouldn’t build the pot till you hit a favorable hand. When it is clear that an opponent possesses a strong hand, you may need to build the pot, especially if you have a high-ranking card.

What can you do if you have a high or middle pair or when an opponent shows a pair against your two-pair cards?

The answer depends on your opponents. How are they playing the hand, and what are the available cards on the table?

The best advice is to know the pot size available on the table; do you want it to get smaller or bigger? It is limited in seven-card stud, but it could be the difference between losing and winning lots of money in pot limit. 

The pot size can quickly skyrocket in pot limit gameplay, so it’s advisable not to get stuck while drawing to a second-best or weak hand in a large pot. Always keep the pots low while you draw, and build them when the game is in your favor.

Pot Odds and Outs

It is relatively easy to determine the number of outs available when you play Omaha or Texas hold’em. The same number of known cards are usually available in each stage of the hand, and you will usually begin with the same quantity of cards. After the flop, you will observe the card values you possess and discover the three community cards. After this, you can find one other card after making the turn.

However, the number of cards changes every time in the game of seven-card stud poker.

In this game, the calculation remains straightforward, but you should be attentive and utilize the card memorization skills we have already discussed.

The secret to winning at any poker game is to always put yourself in scenarios where you will win more in the long term than lose. You should run away from situations where you will lose money more than you win in the long term.

One major thing that will help you assess this is noting how many outs you possess and then comparing it to the amount you are likely to win after you hold your hand.

Most hands aren’t as easy as many of the scenarios depicted mainly because of the diverse ways to win the hand. Most times, experts make players assume that with flush, you lose a hand if you do not hit that hand. However, the truth remains that when one of the more non-sited cards is paired with more than one of your hearts, you will likely win that hand without hitting the flush. This is a rare occurrence, but it remains a possibility.

For instance, let’s say you’ve paired your highest-ranking card instead of hitting your flush upon your last card, and none of your opponents got to show an equally high-value winning hand. The chances that you’ll win at this point are slim; however, in a limit game, if you need to call a single bet, then you need to regularly call in this case.

This is the sole reason:

Imagine the pot contains $200, and you need to call a bet of $10 to find who has won. That will mean you only need to win this hand once out of 20 times to break even. If you lose eighteen times, you may break even eventually if you get to win even once. When you win two out of 20 times, rake in a profit and then make the call.

Is it possible to win 5% in this case? Yes. You can be assured that it is possible to win 5% at the very least in this situation.

What happens if the pot only has $200 or $150?

At this point, it gets a bit dicier. You’ll need to try to predict your overall winning chances, then compare it to the pot’s amount.

In case you feel it is possible to win the hand once in 20, then you will need to call when the pot value is $200. However, if the pot has $150, you may need to ascertain that you can win every one in 15 times or more.

You should make every decision in a poker game around a mathematical plan. Staying ahead in a poker game isn’t easy as you cannot know the value of your opponent’s held card and chances of winning. However, the more experience and mastery you gain, the more able you will be able to make accurate predictions and have a grasp of your chances of winning.

Table Selection

An easy way to boost your confidence and technique at seven-card stud poker tables is by playing with opponents who do not match your skills. Stud players often forget to consider their competition before they begin playing. Most times, players itch to join any available table to enjoy the game, and this could be a good way to profit if you already have skills that put you ahead.

You need to keep your eyes open to every opportunity that could make you profit at stud tables. Whenever you discover weak players, it’ll be a good time to create a game. It is vital to keep working to hone your skills, but you should bring in players you know you will beat easily.

The question is, why do weaker players participate in the first place? Well, it is not too hard to understand why players join any table available. Think about backgammon. Most popular backgammon players do not have time to play at a regular table with wealthy opponents. The weak players know that they don’t match the skills of the professional players, but they will play against all odds – and lose most of the time.

There are similarities between poker and backgammon, especially in that poor players try to beat good ones at any given opportunity. If poor players beat an affluent opponent, it could make a significant mark on their career, and their past losses might be worth it.

Here’s the point, you may never get to know if the weakest poker player will partake in a game till you ask. Remember to treat them right; they may even beat you sometimes. Make sure you do not run them off.

If you took a single piece of advice from the article, it should be that creating or finding games with players who don’t match your skills is a cutting-edge strategy for winning at stud tables. 

Imagine playing with first-timers or weak players who each out in $1000. You will likely win $5000 if you have at least five of these players at the table. The reverse is the case if you are a newbie at stud poker – you are likely going to lose $1000 going against five excellent poker players.

Ante and Bring

This section will answer the common question, how do you play seven-card stud? One of the features that differentiates stud poker from other common poker variants is ante and bring. 

When dealers shuffle the cards, every player on the table must ante. Antes immediately go into the pot because they are simply dead money. Every bet you make in the game becomes added to these antes.

Beginning with players on the left side of the table, then moving clockwise around the table, the cards are dealt to every player – two cards face-down and the other two faceup. The cards facing up are show cards, while those facing down are collectively known as down cards.

All poker games share a similarity in where and how the action begins in the hand. In stud poker, the action begins with the bring-in, while in Omaha or Texas hold’em it starts on the left side. Any player with the lowest value card as the up card must begin with the bring according to seven-card stud rules. 

Here are the things you need to know as the player who’s to make the bring in:

  • Aces are higher in rank than a king and are usually for the bring-in.
  • The value of face cards varies from worst to best, and every card is worth face value. The card’s value goes from jack to queen with the best being the king.
  • In a case where two players possess similar value low cards, the loser is determined by suits.
  • seven-card stud uses a poker suit alphabetic ordering system from worst to best.

There are two choices available to the player required to make the bring-in. They could either complete a bet to a small bet’s full amount or place bets equal to the ante’s size.

Stealing Antes

Stealing Antes

Aside from knowing how to deal seven-card stud, you need to know how to make and increase profits. A way to scale your profits is to know how to steal antes. Most times in regular games, you can get sufficient pot odds to make a profit, especially if you have a 40% success rate. However, you don’t need to have a success rate that high to make profits because there are still times you will win even when someone calls you down.

Another reason to steal antes is that it introduces the unfair advantage of deception to your gameplay. The truth is that raising only with legitimate “raising hands” may never give you an advantage, and you may not win so much. Whenever you are on a steal, it is essential to consider the up-cards of your opponents. Generally, always consider stealing antes when the highest-ranking card is in your possession.

It is best to steal antes when the highest up-card is yet to act, and you own the second-highest up card. It gives the impression that you have a legitimate hand because you’ve raised into a much higher card. It is essential to know the kind of player who holds the highest up-card when you adopt this move because it is always a bad idea to proceed to steal antes if the player is more experienced and aggressive.

Learn to trust your intuition in this case, as you need to re-steal whenever you suspect a player may already be stealing an ante. The best time to do this is when you own a larger up card than your opponent, and the value of your hand is a bit advantageous (e.g. a flush or three-flush). Since your initial plan was to make a call, you could make a re-raise if you suspect your opponent is making a steal.

The case is slightly different if you are in a tight game. Here, you should make a steal when sitting up front in possession of a king or an ace as your show card. If you did this in a loose game, you might not profit, but chances are higher for a win in a tight game. Generally, never try to make a steal when your opponent has two of your up cards. He’ll be able to predict that you will likely not hold the hand and cannot upgrade to that hand when he plays it with you.


How do you play seven-card stud?

The best way for beginners to play this game is to do so in a tight and aggressive setting. This involves paying attention to third street and then balancing semi-bluffs with bluffs. Playing accurately on the third street guarantees that you will find other rounds easy as the game becomes more complex as you progress.

Where can I play seven-card stud poker?

Any legal online poker site in your region that offers poker games. However, there are regions where online poker isn’t legal, so beware. Some recommended poker sites include PokerStars, Partypoker, Betfair Poker, and Bet365 Poker.

Are there any changes to the hand rankings for seven-card stud poker?

No. The hand rankings are the same as that of Texas hold’em. In this ranking, three-of-a-kind always beats a two-pair, and a flush always trumps a straight. Every poker hand must have five cards used to assess the winning hand. The rest of the two ‘dead’ cards do not have any value in their hands.

Are there differences between seven-card stud and hold’em?

Yes. Firstly, blinds are not used in stud poker, but antes and bring-ins. Next, there are no community cards, and the number of rounds in stud is five. The player with the best starting hand begins the action at each round asides from the first betting round where the lowest show card starts. There are no dealer buttons and no positional advantages, and the cards are what determine who begins and ends every round.

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