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A Beginner’s Guide to 7 Card Stud Poker

An Introduction to 7 Card Stud Poker 

Before Texas Hold’em rose to dominance as the most popular form of poker, 7 Card Stud was by far the most popular. Today it is still played by both professionals and amateurs online and in land-based casinos, and there are many tournaments taking place. The game is very easy to learn but has quite a complicated strategy. While we won’t dive too much into the strategy in this guide, we will take you through all of the basics so that you can get started playing with a solid foundation.  

7 Card Stud Poker Basics 

7 Card Stud Poker is played with a standard pack of cards and a game can have anywhere from two to eight players. The object of the game is very simple; each player receives 7 cards across the course of a hand and must use them to create the best possible five-card poker hand.  

The game does not use any community or shared cards, so players can only use the cards that are dealt to them. At the end of a hand, the player with the highest ranking hand wins the entire pot.  

The game comes in various different forms, Fixed Limit, No Limit and Pot Limit. However, Fixed Limit is the most common form and it is what this guide will explain. This is in contrast to Hold’em games, which are usually played in No Limit or Pot Limit format. Fixed Limit simply means that a player must place all bets or raises in a pre-determined increment, which is related to the stakes of the table.  

For example, in a €1/€2 table, in the first two betting rounds the bets must be raised increments at the low end of the stakes, i.e. €1, so the bet starts at €1, is raised to €2, re-raised to €3, and so on. In the final three betting rounds, the bets are raised in increments of the high end stakes of €2, i.e. bet €2, raise to €4, re-raise to €6, and so on. In each betting round, a maximum of four raises are permitted.  

How to Play 7 Card Stud Poker 

As with many other forms of poker, in Stud Poker, a dealer button is used to show the theoretical dealer before each hand begins. It is important as it shows the order that the cards are dealt, with the first card going to the player immediately to the left of the dealer button. At the end of each hand, the dealer button moves to the next player on the left, so that each player at the table will have a turn at being the dealer.  

Before the start of each hand, each player must place an Ante bet into the pot. It is a small amount that ensures that there are chips in the pot available to be won with each hand. The Ante will vary depending on the game, but it is usually between 10% and 25% of the low-end stakes. This means that in a €1/€2 game, the Ante will be between €0.10 and €0.25.  

Once all players have placed the Ante bet, each player is dealt three cards. The first two are dealt face down, which means only the player they are dealt to can see them, and they are called “hole cards”. The third card is dealt face up, so it is visible to the entire table, and it is called the “door card”. 

The door card is very important, as the player with the lowest value door card must then place a “Bring In” bet. If two or more players have the same lowest card then it is decided by the player with the lowest suit. The suits are ranked lowest to highest in alphabetical order, so Clubs, Diamonds, Hearts and Spades.  

The size of the Bring In bet can vary, but normally it is equal to half of the low-end stakes, so in a €1/€2 game it would be €0.50.  

After the Bring In bet has been placed, the first round of betting begins, starting with the player to the immediate left of the bring in player. There are a number of actions that each player can choose from: 

  • Call: If a player has placed a bet before you, you can call by placing a bet of the same size. In the first betting round it is likely to be the same amount as the Bring In bet, unless a player has already raised the bet. 
  • Raise: You can raise the bet by placing a Call bet and then an additional equal amount. As explained, in 7 Card Stud, in the first three betting rounds the raises are a predetermined amount. All players must then match the raised bet or fold (or raise again). 
  • Fold: This is when you abandon the hand and any money you have already bet. When you fold you must keep your cards face down so that they are not visible to other players. 
  • All-In: If a player does not have enough chips to cover a bet then they can go All-In by betting their remaining chips. The chips must be placed in a separate stack near the centre of the table. If the player then loses, they are out of the game. If they win, then they can only collect chips from each player that are equal to the amount of the All-In bet.  

When the betting returns to the Bring In player, the player has the option to call the current bet by adding enough chips to the Bring In bet to equal the full bet amount, or the player can raise the bet.  

When the betting round is over, each player is dealt a fourth face up card, known as the 4th Street. The second betting round then begins with the player showing the highest open (face up) hand. At this point, the highest possible open hand is a pair of Aces.  

There are two possible additional betting options in this round: 

  • Check: If no player has yet placed a bet in the current round then it is possible to check. This means that a player is not betting or folding. If a player bets after another has checked, then that player will then need to call the bet or fold.  
  • Bet: The first person to place chips into the pot in a betting round is placing a bet. 

Betting continues until all players who wish to stay in the hand have placed an equal amount of chips into the pot. Players that do not wish to must fold and wait for the next hand to continue playing.  

The game then continues with the 5th, 6th, and 7th street. Each of the three cards are dealt individually and there is a betting round after each.  

  • 5th Street: Each player is dealt a fifth face up card that is followed by a round of betting that was the same as the last and begins with the player showing the best hand from the three face up cards. From this point, all bets and raises must be equal to the high end of the stakes.  
  • 6th Street: Each player is dealt a sixth face up card. Another round of betting starts, once again with the player showing the best hand from the four face up cards. 
  • 7th Street: Each player receives a seventh and final card, but this time it is face down. The final betting round then begins with the player who began the previous one, as the face up cards have not changed.  

The game then enters the showdown if at least two people remain in the hand. If at any point prior to this only one player remains in the hand due to everyone else folding, then that player wins the pot without having to reveal the cards.  

In the showdown, each player reveals their cards and shows their best five-card hand. The player who forms the best hand from his or her own 7 cards will win the entire pot. If two or more players have the exact same winning hand, then the winners will split the pot. If the suit is applicable, such as in the case of a Flush, then the highest suit rank will win, as explained above.  

On very rare occasions, it is possible to run out of cards. This can happen if there is a full table of eight players and no one chooses to fold. Eight players needing 7 cards each would require 56 cards, but there are only 52 in a deck. If this happens, then the final seventh card is dealt as a community card. In other words, it is dealt face up to the centre of the table for all players to use as their final card.  

7 Card Stud Poker Hand Rankings 

The rules of 7 Card Stud Poker are not complicated, but to play successfully you will have to be able to quickly identify what potential hands you are holding and the other players are showing. The game uses the standard poker hands and from strongest to weakest they are as follows: 

  • Royal Flush – This is the strongest hand possible and it contains the cards 10, J, Q, K and A all from the same suit.  
  • Straight Flush – This is five cards in numerical order from the same suit; for example, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8 of Clubs.  
  • Four of a Kind – This is a hand that contains four cards of same value, such as 3 Diamonds, 3 Clubs, 3 Spades, 3 Hearts.  
  • Full House – This is a hand that contains three of a kind together with a pair, for example, three 5s and two Jacks, the suit is irrelevant.  
  • Flush – This is a hand of five cards all from the same suit, for example, 4, 6, 8, 9 and Queen of Spades.  
  • Straight – This is five cards in numerical order, the suit is not important. For example, 4 Diamonds, 5 Clubs, 6 Hearts, 7 Spades, and 8 Diamonds.  
  • Three of a Kind – This is three cards of the same value and two unrelated cards. For example, 7 Clubs, 7 Diamonds, 7 Spades, 2 Spades and King Hearts.  
  • Two Pair – This is a hand that contains two individual pairs of cards and one unrelated card. For example, 6 Spades, 6 Hearts, 9 Diamonds, 9 Spades, 2 Hearts.  
  • Pair – This is a hand that contains two matching cards and three unrelated cards. For example, Jack Spades, Jack Clubs, 4 Diamonds, 6 Clubs, 8 Hearts.  
  • High Card – If a hand does not contain any of the above, then it is judged according to the highest value card in it.  


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