Before the start of the Texas Hold'em boom a couple of years ago, Stud had always been the most popular poker variation in the United States. The game is played with two to eight players.
Probably the biggest difference between 7 Card Stud and Texas Hold'em is that 7 Card Stud is a non-flop game. Each player gets dealt a total of seven cards, of which three are dealt face down and four are dealt face up. From these seven cards the player has to choose his best five-card combination. The hand rankings are identical to those in Hold'em; a Royal Flush is the best possible hand and the worst hand is the high card hand (no pair).
As you can see in the picture above, every player starts off with getting dealt three cards; two cards face-down and one card face-up. The two face-down cards are called the 'hole cards' and the face-up card is called the 'door card'. Based on these three cards you decide whether or not you want to continue with the hand. Like in any poker variation, hand selection is extremely important in 7 Card Stud.
Antes, bring-in and betting
Every player pays an ante before getting dealt any cards. In our example we are playing a $1/$2 Stud game with a $0.10 ante and a $0.50 bring-in.
The three cards are dealt and the player with the lowest door card is forced to pay the bring-in of $0.50. This player can also choose to bet $1, which is called 'to complete'. The betting continues clockwise around the table, with players having the option to call, raise or fold. Once the betting is complete, every player left in the hand is dealt a fourth cards (4th street). Now, and in all rounds still to come, the player with the highest up-cards is the one who starts the betting.
The minimum bets for the remainder of the hand are:
4th street: $1
5th, 6th & 7th street (the river) : $2
Seven Card Stud 8 or Better is a high/low game. The high should be pretty obvious to most players, as the hand rankings are identical to those in Texas Hold'em; a flush beats a straight, trips beat two pair and so on.
Something beginners often need some time to get used to is the idea of the low hand.
A low hand is not a definite combination of cards. If you are holding two pair, you immediately know that you are holding two pair, but recognising a low hand can be a little bit more complicated, because a low hand consists of any 5 unpaired cards with a value of 8 or lower (Ace counts as high and low).
A low hand can be made with any 5 cards of the card group below, but all five cards have to be of different value.
These are some examples of Low hands:
The best Low hand is always the hand with the lowest 'high' card.
In the example above, it doesn't take very long to see that Player 2 has the best hand here. This is obvious because his highest card is a six, while the other two players both have a 7 as their highest card.
To decide who wins between Player 1 and Player 3, you look at the next highest card. Here we see Player 1 holding a five and Player 3 holding a six, so Player 1 has the better low hand.
The best possible low hand, also called 'The Wheel', is: