How to Play Stud

By Tommie ClarkGoogle
Seven Card Stud used to be the most popular game in town. Before the internet poker boom and the WSOP that featured Chris Moneymaker, Stud was the most played poker game in casinos. It is still played, but not as much as it once was. There are some really well known players who excel at Stud more than they do Hold Em. In fact players such as Barry Greenstein and Phil Ivey consider Stud to be their best games.

Stud is played as a limit game unlike the No limit or pot limit you will find with the popular Hold Em games. Limit is a betting structure that only allows payers to bet a pre-set amount on each round. This limit will be decided by the table stakes at your specific table. If you are playing a table that has stakes of $5-$10, the $5 is the low bet and the $10 is the big bet.

In Stud, the first two betting rounds only allow players to bet the low end of the table stakes. If the stakes are $5-$10, players must bet $5 during the first two rounds. On all subsequent rounds, players must bet the big bet of $10.

Some casinos may offer spread limit games that let you bet between a certain amounts each round, but this is rare. A spread limit game with table stakes of $5-$10, would allow you to bet anywhere between $5 and $10 on each round.

A Stud game only allows players max at a table. This is because if more players were at the table, there would not be enough cards to give everyone seven cards.
To start the hand, everyone places what’s called an ante in the pot. An ante is a forced bet that everyone must place. The size of the ante depends on table stakes and where you play. The size of the ante can range from 1/10th to ¼ of the big bet. It is relatively small compared to the table stakes.

The ante replaces the blinds you would find in games like Hold Em. In Hold Em, you will have a small and big blind with a button to the immediate right of the small blind. In Stud you still have the button, but this is only in place to determine where to start the deal for the dealer.

The button in Hold Em is usually a good place to be as you will act last on every street if you play the hand. However, in Stud the button only dictates where the deal starts. The action is determined by the cards showing.

Once all antes are placed, players are dealt 2 cards face down and 1 card face up in a clockwise fashion. The player with the lowest card showing is forced to place a bring in bet.  The bring in will be slightly larger than the ante, but still less than the low bet. The size of the bring in will vary from place to place, so its bets to ask before you play.
The player who is the bring in does have the option to raise it up to the amount of the low bet. Ina $1-$3 game with a bring in of $0.75, the player may elect to make it the full $1 instead of just putting in the $0.75.

After the bring in is placed, action continues clockwise around the table. Players can fold, call or raise at this point. All bets must be the low end of the table stakes in this round.

Fourth Street

After the first round is complete, a forth card is dealt to all remaining players face up. At this point you will have 2 cards face down and 2 face up. To determine who acts first now, the player with the best 2 cards showing will go first. If you have and Ace and a King showing, and your opponent has an Ace and a Queen showing, you would go first.
All action goes clockwise from the player with the best hand showing. All bets must again be the low end of the table stakes. So, at $5-$10 table, you must bet $5, no more, no less. All raises must also be the low end of the stakes.

There is one caveat to this. If a player has a pair showing, they are given the option of betting the big bet. This will be the only time that this allowed. If a player decides to make it the big bet at this point, all raises must be the size of the big as well.

Fifth Street

A fifth card is now dealt to all remaining players in the hand face up. Once again, the player who has the best hand showing will act first. At this point all bets must now be the size of the big bet. There is no option to bet larger if you have a pair. Action remains clockwise form the player with the best hand showing.

Sixth Street

After all betting is complete, a sixth card is now dealt to all reaming players face up. At this point you will have 2 cards face down and 4 face up. Action is dictated by who has the best hand showing and goes clockwise around the table. Betting is still limited to the size of the big bet and will remain this way until the end of the hand.

Final Card

The last card dealt is face down to all remaining players and the player who had the best hand showing on the last round will again act first. If this player has folded, the best hand showing between the reaming players will go first.

After all betting is finished, the player who makes the last bet is forced to show their hand and a winner is determined.

Hand rankings are exactly the same as in all forms of poker. Pairs, Two Pairs, Flushes, etc… Out of the seven cards you are dealt, you try to make the best possible 5 card hand. The player with the best hand wins the pot.

Hand rankings are as follows.

High card
Two Pair
Three of a Kind
Full house
Straight Flush
Royal Straight Flush

There is another form of stud that is called Stud 8 or Stud 8s or Better. This is a high low hand where the goal is to make a high and low hand with the seven cards you are dealt. The game is dealt and played exactly the same as regular Seven Stud with one major difference.

The pot can have two winners of the hand. If one player has the high hand and another has the low hand, the pot will be split amongst them. If a player is fortunate enough to have both the best high and low hands, they will win the whole pot, often called, scooping.

High hands are the same as any other poker game, but the low hand must meet certain requirements. The low must be lower than 8 high and contain no pairs. The best low hand would be A-2-3-4-5. Straights and flushes do not count against you. The highest low hand would 4-5-6-7-8.

You can use a different 5 cards than your 5 high ones to make the low. For example: Let’s say you have A-A-2-4-5-7-King as you seven cards. Your best high hand would be A-A-5-7-King. Your best low hand would be: A-2-4-5-7.

Many hands in Stud 8 will be split as it’s difficult to make both low and high hands.

Both Stud and Stud 8 are fun games to play. They are both WSOP bracelet games and considered to be games that require a lot of skill. Many of the top players in the world are proficient at Stud. 
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