7 Card Stud Hi-Lo Rules: How To Play Stud Hi-Lo Poker

Stud Hi-Lo is a variant on the traditional 7 card stud poker game and it is advisable for players to learn the rules and methods of play with 7 card stud before playing the Hi-Lo variant.

Variations of stud games are among the oldest poker games around and many players are drawn to the Stud Hi-Lo game because it is viewed as a challenging game. The fact that Stud Hi-Lo represents a challenge has seen it become the game of choice for many keen poker players, all eager to hone their skills.

Other names for Stud Hi-Lo include “seven eight”, “stud eight” and “eight or better”. Stud Hi-Lo can be found on a number of online poker rooms and it can be included in tournament play as well.

How to Play Stud Hi-Lo

The general run of a Stud Hi-Lo game, similar to a 7 card stud game, is as follows:

  • The dealer will provide every player with two downward facing cards and then an upward facing card.
  • A bring-in (forced bet) is played by the player with the lowest ranking up card and the betting process follows on in a clockwise direction. In the case of a tie, the rank of suit is used to determine which player begins.
  • When everyone has placed their bet, a card is burned (discarded) and every player receives an upwards facing card. The player that has the best upward card hand begins the betting process.
  • This process is repeated once and then another round begins with every player receiving a downward facing card. At this stage, if more than one player remains in the game, the cards are unveiled and every player must choose different subsets of their cards to play a high and low hand.
  • Up until the final step, this is the standard 7 Card stud process but this is where the difference for Hi-Lo comes in. The pot is played out between the highest hand and the lowest hand, the lowest hand having ace to five as the low values. An 8 high hand, with 8 being the highest card in the hand, or lower is required to win low. The low hand should hold five unique cards which means that no pairs or allowed with straights and flushes not counting.

The high element is calculated in the standard way for 7 card stud.

For the low element, cards are ranked beginning with the highest ranking low card. This means that a 6-low, for instance 6,5,3,2,1, would beat a 7-low hand containing 7,5,3,2,1. If more than one player has a low hand which begins with the same highest card, the next card is used to determine who wins. For instance a 6,4,3,2,1 would defeat a 6,5,4,3,2. If there is no low hand that qualifies, all of the pot goes to the high hand winner.

Best Stud Hi-Lo Starting Hands

As you would expect when trying to play both high and low hands, detailing what is a good starting hand can be difficult. Therefore, getting a split of high and low, such as an A, A, 2 (with none of the lower cards occurring in a pair) should be deemed as the best starting hand for Stud Hi-Lo. Low cards that provide the opportunity of creating a straight are of benefit.

If you are unable to build a hand that will allow you to win both elements, having a hand that can help you create either is the next best thing. A bad starting hand would involve pairs of your lower numbers or a range of low to middle ranked cards.

Stud Hi-Lo Poker Tips

  • Always think of the Hi and Lo element when playing. The ultimate objective in Stud Hi-Lo is to scoop the pot, winning both the Hi and the Lo sides. However, if no Lo element qualifies, the entire pot goes to the Hi winner. This may mean some players will prioritise the higher hand but if possible, always look to develop both hands.
  • It is important to pay attention to the up cards to know which cards you will not be able to obtain. It is also useful to follow these cards because if a player folds, that player is out and all of their cards are out of the game too. This can have an impact on potential hands you can build but it will also impact on the hands your opponents can build too.
  • By the time you have received your fourth card, you need to have an idea of your plans for the hands. If you have nothing in place, it is advisable to fold at this stage before invest any more money.