7-Card Stud Rules | How to Play Seven-Card Stud Poker
One of the oldest poker games in existence, 7-Card Stud is a poker variation that both traditionalists and new-school players can love.
It doesn't have the explosive all-ins of No-Limit Holdem or the chaotic draws and re-draws of Omaha but its steady pace and multi-layered strategy makes it a game that stands the test of time.
If you're looking to try out 7-Card Stud online, here are the official rules of 7-Card Stud to help get you on your way.
Rules of 7 Card Stud Poker
An important distinction off the top:
Unlike Holdem and Omaha, no community cards are used in Seven-Card Stud. Each player is instead dealt their own unique seven-card hand they then use to make up their best five-card poker hand.
How to Play 7-Card Stud Poker
As the name implies, each player is dealt seven total cards in Seven-Card Stud. If you do the math, that means that with a 52-card deck you can't have a full table of 9 or 10 players like you do in Holdem or Omaha.
The table maximum for 7-Card Stud is usually 8 players And even with a full table of eight there aren't enough cards left in the deck should every player stay in the hand until the final card is dealt.
That rarely (if ever) happens but it's good to know before you begin why there are fewer players at the table.
7-Card Stud - The Deal
Much like the Hold'em, 7-Card Stud begins with each player at the table dealt two cards face down. But that's where the game immediately shifts in a new direction.
In 7-Card Stud the third card for each player is dealt face up. When all players have their three cards, that's when the betting rounds begin.
Unlike Holdem, there are not two forced "blind" bets at the beginning of every 7-Card Stud hand. Instead, all players post an ante to begin the hand. The ante is usually a small increment of the total stakes for the table (eg. at a $1/$2 table, the ante will likely be 15 cents).
When all the antes have been posted, that's when each player receives their first three cards: the two face-down hole cards and the one up-card, visible to all players.
The Bring In
The player with the lowest card showing must take the initiative and make a "bring-in" bet. The bring-in bet is usually half the size of a small standard bet in fixed limit.
Important Note: Seven Card Stud is usually played in a Limit betting format. That means all bets are made in increments of standardized bet sizes.
This Limit changes in the middle of the hand though. For the first two betting rounds the limit is in increments of the small bet size and the last three rpunds are increments of the big bet size.
Eg. for $1/$2 Stud the limit is $1 for the first two betting rounds and $2 for the final three betting rounds. No-Limit Stud or Pot-Limit Stud are very rarely, if ever, played.
Also Note: If there is a tie in card rank for the bring-in bet it is broken by suit. This is a very rare instance in poker where the suit of the card matters for ranking. In this case suits are ranked in alphabetical order from clubs (lowest) to diamonds to hearts to spades (highest). Whichever card has the lowest suit has to pay the bring-in.
It's also important to remember that this is the only time suits come into play for ranking. They DO NOT factor into the final 5-card hand ranking.
The Betting Rounds
Once all cards have been dealt and the player with with lowest "up" card makes the bring-in bet, the player to the left of the bring-in bettor can then choose an action (Fold, Call, Raise).
Betting continues clockwise until all players have acted in that round. To continue in the hand a player must have matched the total of the highest bet.
Once the first betting round is complete a fourth card, called "Fourth Street" is dealt face up to the players still in the hand. A new betting round then begins, starting with the player with the best cards showing.
So for example if only one player had a pair showing and all other players had just a high card, the player with the pair would start the betting round. If no play has a pair then the player with the highest card acts first.
As with the first round of betting the player can either check or bet in the smallest bet size (in the example above, $1).
Important note: Double Bet on Fourth Street
A special situation arises on the second betting round if one player has a pair showing. He or she then has the choice to either bet the minimum bet as usual or to double the minimum bet. If that player choose to make the ‘big bet’ in this situation, the rest of the betting round is also in increments of the big bet.
Fifth and Sixth Street
Once that betting round is complete a fifth card is dealt face up to any player still in the hand. The fifth card is also dealt face up and the player with the best hand showing starts the betting again.
Once all bets are matched or players have folded out of the hand a sixth card is dealt in the same way with a similar betting round.
Important Note: Once a 7-Card Stud hand makes it to fifth street the betting is now done in increments of the bigger betting size (in our example above, $2).
Seventh Street (or The River)
The seventh and final card in a 7-Card Stud hand is dealt face down, just like the first two cards.
The player with the best up-cards again starts the final betting round. If more than one player is still in the hand at the end of the betting round, there will be a showdown, and the player who can show the best five-card hand wins the pot.
7-Card Stud Showdown
As mentioned each player gets 7 cards but still only makes a final 5-card poker hand.
If there are multiple players left at the end of all betting rounds, the player that made the final bet or raise shows their best 5-card hand first.
If there was no bet in the final round the player in Seat 1 or closest to it shows first. The rest of the showdown hands are then exposed clockwise around the table.
7-Card Stud Rules & Exceptions
- Note that there are five betting rounds as opposed to the four in Texas Holdem and Omaha.
- 7-Card Stud also does not have fixed positions like the button, cut-off, small blind, big blind etc. instead, the order of betting is determined by the cards showing.
- If the player with the lowest card showing on Third Street is all-in for the ante and can't make the required bring-in bet, the bring-in moves clockwise to the next player regardless of that player’s up card.
- If the dealer does run out of cards by the time seventh street, a single community card is dealt face-up in the middle of the table and can be shared by all remaining players.
Rules of 7-Card Stud Hi-Lo (8 or Better)
In Seven Card Stud Hi-Lo players are dealt seven cards in a hand, just like traditional 7-Card Stud, and players have to make up their best 5-card poker hand. The difference in Hi-Lo, though, is the pot is split between the best high hand and the best low hand.
Low hands are ranked as they are in Omaha Hi-Lo with an ‘eight or better’ qualifier, which means a low hand has to be an eight-low or lower to qualify to win the pot.
If there's no qualifying low hand the high hand wins the entire pot. The low five-card hand must also be unpaired.
Otherwise, game play in 7-Card Stud Hi-Lo proceeds exactly as it does in 7-Card Stud. One exception:
- There is no doubling of the bet allowed on fourth street as there is in traditional 7-Card Stud.
7-Card Stud Low Hand Rankings
Stud Hi/Lo uses the ‘Ace to Five’ lowball rankings for ranking low hands, meaning:
- Straights and flushes don't count
- Aces are always low
A low hand is always ranked from its highest card down so a "six-low," for example is 6-5-4-3-2. The best low hand is the wheel straight, 5-4-3-2-A. If there are two hands with the same highest card the next card becomes the deciding card eg. 6-4-3-2-A beats (ie is lower than) 6-5-4-3-2.
A qualifying low hand that is also a straight or a flush is a great hand because it also has a very good chance of winning the high hand for a scoop of the whole pot. Check out our complete rules and strategy tips for Stud 8-or-Better here:
Play 7 Card Stud Online Free
The best place to try out 7-Card Stud or 7-Card Stud Hi-Lo online is likely PokerStars. They have a wide assortment of games and stakes running at peak hours and even mix in 7-Card Stud tournaments.
As PokerStars also has a wide range of play-money games you can also likely learn the ropes of how to play 7-Card stud for free. Check our PokerStars review to access an up to $600 sign-up bonus.
PokerStars isn't the only site to offer online Stud poker games; check our Stud Poker Online toplist here:
Razz is very similar to 7-Card Stud - or the exact opposite depending on your point of view. The structure of the game is the same but instead of making the best possible five-card poker hand out of seven cards, the goal is to make the worst possible hand.
Straights and flushes have no ranking and the lowest hand wins the pot. Aces are always low, so the best possible hand is A-2-3-4-5. You're also not allowed to include pairs in the five card hand.
How to Play Razz Poker
Just like in Seven-Card Stud the game starts with all players posting an ante. Each player is dealt three cards, two face-down hole cards and one face up. In Razz:
- The player with the highest card must make the bring-in bet (as opposed to the one with the lowest card in Seven Card Stud).
- Unlike Texas Holdem and Omaha there are no fixed positions in Razz and Stud. The players act clockwise in the first round starting with the player who posted the bring-in.
- The bring-in bet is half the size of an ordinary small bet but it's also allowed to make a full-sized bring-in.
- The first player to the left of the one who posted the bring-in can choose to fold, call (the same amount as the bring-in), or raise.
- The next player in turn can fold, call (the bring-in amount or the raised amount), raise (an unraised pot) or re-raise (make another raise on top of a previous one).
- All of the remaining players have the same options.
When the first betting round is complete all remaining players are dealt an additional card face up. Now the player with the lowest card showing starts another betting round, which works the same way as the first one (without the bring-in).
It's followed by two additional face-up cards with a new round of betting for each card. Finally, a seventh card is dealt face down and is followed by the last betting round.
If two or more players are still in the hand until the end of the round, there will be a showdown. The player with the lowest possible five-card poker hand wins the pot!