Seven Card Stud: Starting Hands

About 7 Card Stud

7 Card Stud was the most popular form of poker in America for decades until Texas Hold ‘Em came along to supplant it. It’s still very popular and a fixture of poker tournaments, favored by poker players who play a slightly deeper game. More than any other variation, it rewards observation of player tendencies.

Let’s discuss starting hands and how you can control the board early on.

Starting Hands

The most important moment of each hand is just after the first deal. That’s where you make your decision to play or surrender your ante.

My advice is to not get too attached to your ante. It’s important to remember that the ante is cheap and you can afford many more of them than you can pots that you’ve gone in heavily on.

Three Of A Kind

If you hit rolled-up trips out of the gate, that three of a kind stands a good chance to win with no help from the other cards being dealt.

I recommend that you slow-play until you hit the more expensive streets when bets double and you can really make money.


Top pairs are also very good, but I recommend a more aggressive strategy because the more players that see the other streets, the less likely you are to win with a pair.

If it’s a pair below 9, I generally throw them out unless they meet some kind of basic condition, like having an ace for a kicker on the board.

You will want to occasionally play with a smaller pair just to keep your table image unstable, but make sure you get out before things start to get expensive.

Building A Flush

When you get the first three cards of a flush, you will want to be practical, even if it’s pretty exciting. You have to remember that while this hand can turn into a major player, it’s still a draw hand that needs help to win.

Keep your high cards in mind – if you have Ac9c4c, then the odds that someone can beat your ice high flush are very smart. Plus, with a high-card ace, you have a chance of a strong pair. You’ll also want to be aware of what your opponents are showing – if there’s a lot of clubs on the felt already, you may be in trouble.


I recommend avoiding broken straights (8-10-J) where you absolutely need one card to make a hand and instead stick to straights where you’ve already got a number of cards in order, such as 8-9-10, and thus can use two “outside” cards to finish the hand.

Other Hands

Just avoid them unless you have some high paint cards and the board’s proving to be a bit weak. I’d only play in that case if I could get in on the cheap and walk away with no regrets in the end.