I’m of the mind that if you’ve played (and enjoyed) Texas Hold ‘Em and Omaha Poker, you’re probably either going to really love or really hate Seven Card Stud poker. Some players love it because it offers up an entirely new way, challenging to play the game. Others out-and-out hate it because it’s so foreign in a lot of ways, even as it offers some familiar structure. Let’s break the game’s differences down and talk about how Seven Card Stud can be played.
In Omaha or Texas Hold ‘Em, you’re initially dealt a set of pocket cards and are then at the mercy of the community cards to build a better hand. With seven card stud, you’re dealt three cards, two down (so that you can only see them) and one up as your pocket cards. Now, the advantage to this is that the other players also have one up card that you can see. This can help you eliminate chasing a flush, for example, if you see that a lot of the cards of the suit you needed on the table. Of course, this means that they’re seeing a part of your hand as well.
There are several hands I consider very playable from the outset, by the way: three of a kind (also known as being “rolled up”); three cards to a straight flush; a big hidden pair (such as AA or KK in your hole cards); a big open pair with one card down and one card up; three high cards that build to a flush; three cards in a sequence; and a hidden middle or low pair with no matching card shown by the other player.
As the name implies, everyone is dealt seven cards and has to build the best five-card hand from them. However, only the middle three community cards are dealt face-up. Your initial starting hand is considered to be first, second and third street. The three community cards are dealt one at a time, with a round of betting after each one. So, fourth street is laid down and there’s a round of betting. During fifth street and sixth street, the same action occurs, but the minimum bet amount doubles. Seventh street, however, is dealt face down to each player and there’s another round of betting.
Seven card stud increases the amount of betting that one has to do, and so you have to be a bit more cautious and aware of what is (and isn’t) available to help bolster your hand if you don’t roll out of the gate with three of a kind. You’ll want to keep track of the cards that your opponents fold in case any of them could have helped you. In fact, up cards in general should be a big part of your strategy, as they can tell you what you opponents may be building on their end.
It’s important to remember that you’re seeing over half of your opponents’ cards when you’re playing Seven Card Stud. By keeping track of what’s been folded and what’s not, you can more easily put someone else on a hand. This is a key reason why serious players generally do not multi-table while playing the game, as it requires a lot of thought to keep up with not only potential hands, but those that have been eliminated entirely.