7 Card Stud Rules: How to Play 7 Card Stud Poker

There is a fine history to stud poker with many people of the opinion that 3 Card Stud can be traced back to the American Revolutionary War. 7 Card Stud does not have a history that goes as far back as this but it is still an extremely popular poker game.

In recent times, Texas Hold ‘Em and Omaha variants have managed to steal a march on 7 Card Stud but up until the late 1970s/early 1980s, this was the number one poker game of choice. It still features regularly in casinos and tournament play and 7 Card Stud will always be a popular choice for home poker players.

It is common for 7 Card Stud to be played between two to eight players but if eight players are playing and no one folds, special rules are required for the last cards to be dealt. This makes 7 Card Stud a very sociable game but whether you are playing with friends or strangers, the game does require a fair bit of attention.

How to Play 7 Card Stud

The general run of a 7 Card Stud game is as follows:

  • The dealer deals each player two cards that are face down and one card that will be dealt face up.
  • The player that holds the up card with the lowest ranking will pay the bring-in (a forced bet) and betting begins from here in a clockwise fashion. If more than one player has the same rank of card, suits may be used as a tie-breaker.
  • Once the first betting round has been concluded, the dealer will burn a card (discard it) and will deal an upward facing card to every player, starting from the dealer’s left.
  • The process continues with another up card and betting round, another up card and betting round and then a downwards facing card with another betting round. If more than one player is still in the game then a showdown occurs and the player with the best hand wins.

A quick overview of 7 Card Stud would be two down, four up then one down.

Best 7 Card Stud Starting Hands

As you initially start with just 3 of a potential 7 cards it’s important to know exactly what you are looking for straight from the off.

A three of a kind would be the best starting hand but it doesn’t happen too often so if you get one, make the most of it. A high pair (A,A to 10,10) would be considered a very good starting hand whereas a medium pair (9,9 to 6,6) still provides plenty of opportunity to develop a good hand throughout the stages of the game.

As you go down the ranks, low pairs, three to a flush (three cards of the same suit), three to a straight (three cards in a row of different suits) or even three high cards provide an opportunity from your starting hand.

Maximising your hand from a good starting position relies on good fortune and poker skills but any starting hand that does not meet the opening criteria would be considered as a poor starting hand.

7 Card Stud Poker Tips

  • It is good to remember that 7 Card Stud is a high poker game. This means that more hands are won with a high two pair or high pair as opposed to straights, flushes and big hands. If you have a big pair, feel free to play aggressively. This may eliminate other players from the game at an early stage, which is a good thing. Then again, if you are looking to build the pot, it may be of benefit to ease the aggression and hopefully keep players in the game which should help build the pot.
  • Pay attention to the first four cards of your hand as these are crucial to winning. By this point, you need to have a plan to win and if you don’t, fold and come back in the next game.
  • A basic poker tip, which has great relevancy in 7 Card Stud, is to play tighter when there are a greater number of cards in the game. Playing tight means to play fewer hands and knowing when to fold.
  • Pay attention to the face up cards. If it is a busy game, it can be a big task to remember every single up card but knowing what your opponents hold and what cards are already in play will help a 7 Card Stud player to be more informed. Being alert to what is going on around you when the dealer acts is a big plus in 7 Card Stud.