Seven Card Stud is among the most widely played poker variations in the world and has retained its huge popularity ever since it was first introduced around the time of the American Civil War. This variation differs from Texas Hold’em in that players here are dealt seven cards individually. Three of those are hole or face-down cards, while the remaining four are exposed and facing up.
Since there are four exposed cards, players are enabled to gather more information and make better-informed decisions throughout the course of a hand. The goal is to form the highest ranking five-card hand you possibly can. The ranking of the hands coincides with those in Texas Hold’em.
The game consists of five betting rounds and usually utilizes a limit betting structure as the bets are placed in set, predetermined increments which are listed at the table. Below, we introduce you to the basic rules of play in Seven Card Stud.
- At the start of the game before players are dealt any cards, they are required to contribute to the pot with a small amount, referred to as the Ante. In other words, this is a forced bet you need to pay in order to be dealt into the hand.
- Once everyone at the table pays their Ante, each player receives a total of three cards, two of which are facing down while the third one is dealt facing up. Note that these three cards are dealt one at a time to each player at the table. This round is called the Third Street and the player, located immediately to the left of the dealer is the first to receive a card.
- The person holding the lowest ranking face-up card is appointed the position of a Bring-in and is required to make another forced bet to start the action.
- If two players show exposed cards of the same rank, the suits are used to break the tie. These are ranked in alphabetical order, with the clubs being the lowest and the spades being the highest.
- Players can then choose from several betting options, namely calling the Bring-in, folding their hand or raising by increasing the bet amount.
- When everyone has acted clockwise in turn, each participant in the game is dealt yet another face-up card which marks the start of the next round of betting or the Fourth Street. This time, the first player to act is the one that shows the highest ranking value on the Fourth Street. The options for this person are to either check (defer their right to bet but still remain in hand) or bet the lower amount, allowed at the table. During the Third and Fourth Streets players are required to utilize the small betting increment.
- The Fourth Street is followed by a round of betting, with all players in hand taking turns in clockwise manner. Then, the Fifth Street begins with everyone receiving yet another, third face-up card. Similarly to the previous betting round, the person in possession of the highest-value hand is expected to act first. From this round onwards, the bigger betting increments are utilized. As a general rule of thumb, the big bet increment is twice the size of the small one that was used during the first two rounds in the game.
- The Sixth Street is the final, fourth exposed card players are dealt in a game of Seven Card Stud. Once again, the person in possession of the face-up cards of the highest value is entitled to start the action. Another round of betting follows.
- Everyone at the table is dealt their last, seventh card facing down. The last card is called either the Seventh Street, or the River as is the case in Texas Hold’em. The player with the highest-ranking exposed cards again gets to act first, followed by the others, who proceed in a clockwise direction.
- The Seventh Street is followed by what is known as the Showdown, where all participants reveal their face-down or hole cards. Usually, it is the player, who has bet or raised last that flips over their hole card first. The others expose their cards in clockwise direction.
- The winner is the player who has succeeded in forming the highest ranking hand that consist of precisely five cards. The remaining two cards are called kickers and are not relevant to the hands in Seven Card Stud. Should any ties occur, the winning players typically split or chop the pot into equal amounts.
Since Seven Card Stud usually can involve anywhere between two and eight players, occasionally it happens so that the 52-card deck is exhausted before all participants have been dealt their seventh card. This happens on rare occasions only, but it is possible nevertheless. If the number of remaining cards is insufficient, only one community card will be dealt facing up in the center of the table for all players to share on the Seventh Street.