When it comes to Poker games, Draw Poker is old school, 5-Card Stud is too rare to speak of, but 7-Card Stud is alive and well. Texas Hold’Em gets all the press and makes a better spectator game, but 7 Stud is the game of choice for the hard-nut players.
Stud demands strategy and skill and it takes a lot of play to develop the winner’s edge. Top caliber players are few and far between but they have one thing in common with the rookies: every player of the game is still learning, even the masters.
Let’s begin with the basic rules.
Stud games are defined by their betting limits. The low stakes online games are usually $2-$4 while the higher games are typically $8-$16 or $10-$20. I’ve seen land casino Stud at $100-$200 or higher, but these stakes are very rare on the web.
The game’s betting limits tell the Stud player pretty much everything they need to know about the nature of the game, the expectations of the players, and the size of the bankroll you should have before you sit in.
Buy-In and Bankroll
Your minimum Stud Buy-In is typically 10-times the low limit, or $20 for a $2-$4 game. But playing with the minimum is not recommended.
Choosing your Game
Anything below the $10-$20 level is generally considered a beginner’s game. The skill and strategy levels required in the higher games are substantial and such games generally do not provide a friendly environment for the Stud player still learning their way around.
Ante in Stud is mandatory and changes depending on the betting limits. The low games usually require a 10% Ante, so a $5-$10 game will have a $0.50 Ante. The high games get up to 25% on the Ante: that’s $25 on a $100-$200 game. The percentages may vary somewhat but 10% is the typical minimum.
We’ll use a $10-$20 game as our working example, so the Ante is $1, 10% of the low limit.
The dealer deals clockwise starting on their immediate left. They deal one card at a time around the table until each player has two pocket cards (face down) and a single up (the “door” card).
At this point the dealer indicates which player will open the betting, determined by the lowest door card. If there’s a tie for low door, suit resolves it: spades over hearts, followed by diamonds, and finally clubs is the lowest.
Once the initial cards have been dealt, the game begins. At this point we’ve got three cards on the table per player and that’s called “Third street”.
The player holding the lowest door card must “bring it in” by opening with a bet equal to twice the ante ($2 in our example game). If the low door player doesn’t make this bet, they’re forced to Fold and the opener passes to the player on their left.
The next player clockwise from the opener can Call by matching the opener, Raise by betting the low betting limit ($10) or Fold. Throughout third street all Bets and Raises are fixed at the low betting limit ($10).
The dealer gives each player another open (up) card. Unlike third street, the opener in the fourth and remaining streets is the high hand as determined by the open cards. They may Check (Pass) or Bet. It they Bet it’s at the low limit ($10) and that fixes all raises in this round to the same.
If the high hand is an open pair, the opener can Bet at the upper limit ($20) and this fixes all Raises in the round to the same.
Fifth and Sixth Street
Again, the card is dealt up and high hand opens. All Bets and Raises are at the upper limit ($20).
The last card, called the “river”, is another pocket card (face down). All bets and raises are at the high limit ($20).
After the Bets and Raises have been resolved, the remaining players enter the Showdown. The opener reveals his pocket cards. If a player wishes to compete with this hand they too reveal their pocket cards, or they can yield and muck out (Fold).
At the casino it’s the dealer’s responsibility to call the winner, as determined by the best 5-card hand under normal Poker rules. In online games, the software will designate the winner and the pot will be passed to them.
It is any player’s right to request to see any final hand that has been mucked, though this is primarily intended for casino play.