Long before Texas Hold’em and Omaha become well-known poker variants, the game of choice was known as 7 Card Stud. Though the game is still popular today and played in all regions of the world, it often takes a back seat to the aforementioned poker games. Still, if you ask hardcore poker players and real students of the game, most of them will agree that, as far as skill goes, 7 Card Stud requires more of it than most every other poker game. Many say that if you can excel at 7 Card Stud, most other poker variants will be able to easily be learned.
Played with anywhere from 2 to 8 players, 7 card stud lays forth a simple goal for players, and that is to acquire as many chips as possible before everything is all said and done. This poker game can most simply be broken down into 4 different stages—the setup, the bring, betting rounds, and the showdown. In the following few sections, the stages of 7 card stud will be elaborated upon and samples will be presented.
Once everyone that is playing has received their allotment of chips, it then comes time for the big bet, small bet, and ante to be laid onto the table. Traditionally, the size of the big bet will determine the stake level of the game. In ordinary circumstances, the small bet is half of the big bet, and the ante is roughly 10% of the big bet’s value.
7 card stud plays host to a variety of betting structures, each with their own rules attached. The first of the three most common 7 card stud betting structure is known as Fixed Limit Stud. Under this scheme, the amount which you can wager is fixed and determined by the size of the game. If you are playing a $5/$10 game of stud (that is, $5 is the small bet and $10 is the big bet), the amount by which players can bet or raise is equal to either the amount of the big or small bet. When bets must be same amount as the small bet or the same amount of the large bet is dependent on what round of betting you are in. In the first betting rounds, the amount someone can wager, keeping with the $5/$10 example above, would be no more than $5. So, for example, if someone wagers $5 and you would like to raise, you can raise only by $5, making the size of the wager now $10. For the final three rounds of betting, all bets and raises must be made in increments equaling the big bet. Finally, fixed betting allows for only a certain number of raises in any given round of betting—most times this limit is 3 raises.
The second betting structure is known as Spread Limit and is a way of betting that is unique to 7 card stud. Spread limit betting is not frequently used and has liberal rules such that one casino’s betting requirements differ entirely from those of another casino. For the most part, however, these next few bullet points are the standard rules for spread limit stud betting:
- There will always be a predetermined minimum and maximum bet amount.
- Any bets made during any round of betting must fall at the min/max or be somewhere in between.
- In some variations, the maximum bet is doubled during later rounds of betting. For example, if the spread is $1-$10, the later rounds of betting will allow for betting anywhere between the range of $1-$20.
- More often than not there is never a limit to the amount of times people can raise during a given betting round.
- Many spread limit stud games do not require an ante, but those that do often set the ante at 25% of the minimum bet.
- The minimum bring is often equal to the amount of the ante. In the absence of an ante, however, the minimum bring is equal to the lower end of the spread.
The last betting structure employed by 7 card stud is known as pot limit. Pot Limit Stud is great for higher stakes players because the pots are often much larger than they are in any other poker variant. The reason for this is due to the fact that stud has 5 rounds of betting while Omaha and Hold’em only have 4. As you are probably well-aware, one single round of betting can drastically influence the amount of the pot.
The following bullet points are aimed at making the betting rules of Pot Limit Stud a bit easier to comprehend.
- The game’s size is often determined by the buy-in and ante amount. Often, the ante is 1/200th of the buy-in, so a $100 buy-in game would have an ante of $0.50.
- The minimum bring is equal to the size of the ante
- The maximum bet is tallied by totaling the amount of the pot, the amount of all bets on the table, and the amount of any call you would make prior to raising
- For an example, let’s say that you are the first person to act on the fourth street. At this time, the total pot is $10. If you would like to wager, you can bet as little as the ante ($0.50) or as large as the pot ($10).
After every player offers up their ante, the dealer will move clockwise around the table and give every player 2 cards face down followed by one card dealt face-up.
As is the case with most every variety of poker, something must be done in order to determine who starts out the action of a given hand. Most other game types start the action with the first person to the dealer’s left, but stud utilizes the bring in order to determine where the action begins. Basically, the person who is determined to be the bring, or the one who is to “bring it in” is the one who is dealt the lowest-valued face-up card. When these door cards are dealt, the weakest card will be determined by the card’s face and suit. Numbered cards are ranked in ascending order from weakest to strongest while face cards are ranked in order from Jack, to Queen, to King. When determining the bring, Aces are the highest possible card one can receive.
If two players tie for having the weakest cards, the suit of those cards will determine who ultimately is awarded the bring. Suit strengths, from weakest to strongest are clubs, diamonds, hearts, and spades.
Once the bring is determined, that player can either bring by making a wager equal to the size of the ante, or can complete the wager by betting an amount equal to the pre-established small bet.
First Round of Betting
During the first round of betting, or third street, the player to the left of the bring is the first to act. This person can either fold their hand, call, or raise. If a player calls, they simply have to match the amount of the bring. A player can raise, but this can only be done if the previous player brought about the minimum bring (that is, they simply matched the ante). In order to raise, the first acting player can only bet an amount up to the small bet. If the previous player completed their bring by matching the small bet, the first player on the third street may raise to an amount that does not exceed double the small bet.
For example, if you are playing in a $200 game, the third street may work out as follows:
Minimum Bring: First players brings $10 which means that the second player can either match that $10 or raise to $50.
Maximum Bring: The first player brings $50 and the second player can either match that $50 or raise to $100.
Second Round of Betting
After the third street, or first round of betting, the dealer deals every player another face-up card directly adjacent to their first. At this point and during every subsequent round of betting, the first player able to act is the player who has the highest value cards showing. These hands are ranked as they are in any other poker variation, with A♥ A♠ being the best hand, and 2♣ 3♣ being the worst. To help clarify a little more, we will show a few examples of hand values and how they are determined.
For this example, lets say that one player is showing the K♥ and K♦ while another player is showing the A♥ and K♠. While the A and K combine to make two stronger cards, the pair of kings held by the first player is the stronger of the two hands and because of that the first player will have the luxury of acting first.
Once it is determined who is to act first on the fourth street, that player can either check or wager the small betting limit. If a small bet is made, any subsequent player is able to raise, though their raise can only be in an amount equal to the small bet.
Third Betting Round
Once the second round of betting has been completed, the dealer will, working from his left and around the table, deal every remaining active player another card face-up. As it was in the previous round, the person who begins the action will be determined the same exact way; the person with the strongest hand will act first.
Every other aspect of the fifth street is the same as it was on the fourth street, with the one exception being that now all wagers and raises must be completed in amounts equal to the big betting limit.
Fourth Betting Round
The fourth betting round, or fifth street, is identical in every way to the round before it. The only difference is that now, in order to determine who begins action, players will have four face-up cards in front of them as opposed to three.
Final Betting Round
When the fourth round of betting (sixth street) has wrapped up, all remaining players will be dealt a fifth and final card face down. Because the same four cards are showing, the same person who began action in the third betting round will also begin action in the final betting round.
When the final round of betting has been completed, all remaining players will be tasked with putting together the best possible 5-card hand from their allotted 7 cards. The 2 cards that remain unused are determined to be dead and do not affect the hand’s outcome in any way.
The winning hand is determined in the same exact way it would be in a game of hold’em. Because suits do not affect the strength of a hand, two players with the same hand (eg two 2-6 straights) will split the pot.
A few other rules worth mentioning are as follows:
Bet Cap: If there is a round of betting taking place that involves 3 players or more, there is only able to be one bet and a maximum of three raises. Once three raises have taken place in any one round, the next action can only either be a call or a fold.
Running Out of Cards: If you are playing with 8 people, you cannot mathematically give every player a full 7 cards. In this instance, if all 8 players make it to the 7th street (final round of betting), there will be one card dealt face-up in the middle of the table; this will serve as a community card that is technically held by everyone at the table.