How to Play 7 Card Stud | Seven Card Stud Rules
Before the massive explosion of Texas Hold’em worldwide, 7 Card Stud used to be the number one poker game in the world. Every professional poker player in the world knew the game and knew it well.
The times have changed, but 7 Card Stud remains an important part of a well-rounded poker player’s arsenal. In the modern era of poker, it's more common to see stud played as part of mixed games.
Let's jump right in and learn the rules of 7 Card Stud.
Antes and the Bring-In
Stud is almost always played with limit betting rules. For more on limit game structures, including references to the "small bet" and "big bet" referenced throughout this article, see our guide to Poker Betting Rules.
Stud is unlike Hold’em and Omaha, where two players to the left of the button post blinds. Instead, each player at the table posts an ante, usually worth 5% of the big bet.
The player who receives the lowest ranking door card posts a forced bet called the bring-in which is worth 5 times the ante. If they so choose, this player may also complete the bet, by posting the entire small bet.
In a $5/$10 7 Card Stud game, players would post $0.50 ante, and the bring-in would be $2.50. If the player chose to complete, they would need to pay $5 (the amount of the small bet).
There are no community cards in stud games. Instead, each player in 7 Card Stud receives seven unique cards. The first dealing street includes two down cards and one up card to each of the players.
Four more betting rounds commence after that, with each player dealt another card in each round.
After all seven cards have been dealt, the players will be left with three cards face down and four cards face up.
The Betting Rounds
Once the player with the lowest-value door card has posted his bring-in, the action continues clockwise around the table. Every player has the right to either raise the bet, call, or fold their cards.
In a $5/$10 game, players would have the option to raise the bring-in to $5. Since Stud is always played as a limit game, there are exact limits as to how much you can raise.
The third and fourth street use the small bet as the raising and betting standard, while the fifth, sixth, and seventh street use the big bet.
The only exception to this is when a player pairs their door card on the fourth street, in which case they may open with the big bet instead of the small bet if they so choose.
To use our $5/$10 game example once more, players would be raising and betting in $5 increments on the first two streets and in $10 increments on the later three streets. If a player pairs his door card on fourth street, they get an option of opening with the $10 bet.
The fourth, fifth, and sixth streets, each include a single card being dealt face up to all remaining players. Seventh street is then dealt face down. A betting round follows after every dealing street.
Starting with the fourth street, the first player to act is always the one with the strongest showing hand.
For instance, a player showing a pair will always act before players whose hands are not showing a pair. Face-down cards are irrelevant.
If more than one player remains in the hand after seventh street, the players show their cards, starting with seat one and around the table clockwise. If there was aggressive action on the last betting street, the player who made the aggressive action goes first in showing the cards.
The player with the strongest five-card poker hand wins the pot. Winning hands are determined using standard poker hand rankings. If two or more players have the same hand strength, the pot is split among the winning players.
In the Stud showdown example above, the player on the right wins with a club flush, beating the left player's two-pair.