Even if you are not familiar with Seven Card Stud Hi/Lo, it should come as no surprise to learn that it is played in much the same way as Seven Card Stud. In fact, the game plays out in the same fashion until it comes to the showdown. Although the popularity of Seven Card Stud and its Hi/Lo variant is not at the level it once was, the game still comes with a dedicated following of players both online and ‘off-line’.
The increased focus in poker on television and on the internet has mainly been on Texas Hold ‘Em. This has brought a lot of new poker fans and players to the market, with the majority of these players opting to play Hold ‘Em. There are still plenty of poker players that enjoy games such as Seven Card Stud and its Hi/Lo variant and there will be players that gravitate towards it from the Hold ‘Em.
The key difference in this game is that the highest hand in the game only takes half the pot. This is because the remaining half of the pot is claimed by the player with the best low hand. However, if there is no low hand that qualifies, then the best ranked hand will claim the entire pot. The qualification element usually revolves around the “8 or better” ruling, which means that the low hand is not permitted to have a card that is higher than an 8.
How to Play 7 Card Stud Hi/Lo
Seven Card Stud Hi/Lo is the high / low version of the original Seven Card Stud game. The game begins with each player putting an ante into the pot before they are provided with three cards by the dealer. Of these three cards, two will come facing down, which are the hole cards. One other card will be provided to the player facing up. The player that holds the lowest ranked upwards facing card will begin the betting process with the “bring-in.” The betting round continues in a clockwise direction and all players can fold, raise or call.
After the initial round of betting is concluded, all players remaining in the game will receive an upward facing card. This changes the beginning of the betting process for this round and the remaining betting rounds. The player that has the highest ranked hand on display will be the first player to bet. The round of betting continues with the player at the left of this player and so the process continues with every player being able to raise, call or fold.
At the conclusion of this betting round, players receive an additional upward facing card and then take part in another betting round. This will leave the player with five cards and then after that round has been concluded, all players remaining in the game will receive a sixth card, which comes facing upwards.
Once this betting round has been concluded, a seventh and final card is delivered to players and it is provided face down. Then the final betting round begins before the showdown begins, which is where the difference between Seven Card Stud and Seven Card Stud Hi/Lo begins.
Although the first notable difference in the game only arises at the showdown, players will be thinking differently throughout the game. This means that players will be studying their potential hand including hole cards to create high and low hands. Players are able to lose five of their cards to create a high hand and five of their cards to create a low hand. It is possible for players to use a card in both the high and low hand.
An example of this would come from a hand that consists of an Ace, 2, 4, 5, 6, 7 and 8. It is possible to utilise the 4, the 5, the 6, the 7 and the 8 to create a straight flush while the A, the 2, the 4, the 5 and the 6 can be used to create a straight flush with the low hand. This means that the 4, 5 and 6 are used in both the low and high hands, which is perfectly acceptable.
Tips & Strategies
Like any poker variant, there are tips and strategies to utilise with this game and in particular it is important to place an emphasis on both ends of the spectrum with your initial poker hand. You should not over emphasise the high hand, which may be difficult for players who are more used to looking for the highest possible hand.
The best possible starting hand in this game is any trip you receive (three cards of the same rank, with an Ace providing a high start all the way through to a deuce). After this a pair is a good starting point but with respect to the high-lo element, having cards that can play a connecting role is of benefit. A strong opening would be something like an Ace, a 5 and a 2.
One of the most consistent tips provided with respect to Seven Card Stud Hi/Lo is to focus on the lower element. This is where the money is usually won. A large part of this may be the fact that poker players will instinctively look to play the best poker hand, which means that the lower hand is subconsciously overlooked. If a player can go against their natural instinct in Hi/Lo, they will have a better likelihood of success.