Before Texas Hold ‘Em became the number one poker game of choice, the most popular poker game was 7 Card Stud. There are many different stud poker games to choose from but in homes and bars across America and the rest of the world, Seven Card Stud was the game that was the most common. Seven Card Stud can be played out between anything from two to 9 players, although there may be a requirement for special rules in the event of eight or nine players playing as one deck of cards simply won’t be enough.
In the grand scheme of things in the online poker era, it may even be argued that Omaha Hi/Lo has sneaked ahead of Seven Card Stud with respect to playing popularity but there is still a stronghold of support for this format of the game. Seven Card Stud is a simple poker variant that many people learned how to play from a young age and it is one that many players are familiar and comfortable with.
It may not be the poker game that grabs the attention in the way that other poker games manage to but it is still comes with a hardy and loyal following, even in the online scene.
How to Play 7 Card Stud
Seven Card Stud can be played in high only and in high / low mode. This section will examine how the standard game of Seven Card Stud is played. The game can be played in fixed limit and pot limit format. The fixed limit game means that players are only allowed to bet one big blind at any time and pot limit means that players can wager the cumulative total of the pot.
Prior to cards being dealt, players will place an ante and then they will receive three cards. Two of these cards are received facing down, their hole cards, and one card will be facing up. Betting begins when the player with the lowest ranked upward facing card, with aces being high in this game, making the first bet. This is called the “bring-in” and it will be at least at a level that has been agreed upon before play begins. The flow of betting continues to the left with players being able to call, raise or fold.
Once this round of betting is complete, an additional card is dealt to all players that remain in the game. This card is dealt facing up. At this point and for the rest of the game, the player who has the highest on show hard will begin the betting. Again, the betting round continues in a clockwise direction from this player with each player being able to fold, call or raise.
Once this round of betting is complete, the game continues with another card being dealt facing up and then another betting round, of the same nature as the previous round, takes place. Another round of betting takes place and another upwards facing card, a player’s sixth card, is delivered before yet another round of betting takes place.
There then follows the seventh card being delivered to players and this card is delivered face down. This begins the final betting round and when that is complete, the showdown takes place with all remaining players.
In recent times, there has been a popular version of Seven Card Stud called Mississippi Stud. The main change comes in the removal of the betting round which takes place between the fourth and fifth streets. Another change comes with the fact that the final card in the game is delivered face up. Some players prefer this variant of the game, even though it makes Seven Card Stud a closer relation to Texas Hold ‘Em. This is due to the fact that both games carry the same betting structure and the same number of cards facing up and down (including community cards).
With an increasing number of players turning to Texas Hold ‘Em, Mississippi Stud can be considered as a bridging game which may introduce more players to Seven Card Stud in the long term. Some players prefer not to play the new game but anything which provides more variety and options for players should be considered a positive thing overall.
Tips & Strategies
With respect to a best starting hand, most players agree that having two aces as your hole card while having an ace on show is the best possible starting point. After this, any other three of a kind hand is considered to be a strong starting point. From here, high pairs are considered to be the best, with a hidden high pair considered to be another strong starting hand. A high pair with one card on display is still a good starting point but the hidden element can provide players with an additional tactic up their sleeve. Hands that have the possibility to be converted into straights or flushes should also be considered as strong starting hands.
One thing that Seven Card Stud has in common with Omaha and Texas Hold ‘Em games is that there is an acceptance that players that play tight and aggressively prosper. Obviously this is not the case in every single game but over the long term, players that have the ability to read hands, their opponents and unfolding situations will have more success.
One of the basic strategies for players playing Seven Card Stud is to memorise what cards were on display for players that have folded from the game. This is because Seven Card Stud is very much a game where information is vital. While having a strong memory is of benefit for most poker and card games, the nature of Seven Card Stud and its upward facing cards which can drop out of the game, makes it an important asset for players. Poker skills are important but many players find that reading hands and players and determining other players betting strategies can be as integral to success as poker skills.