Before television coverage of tournament poker made Texas Hold’em all the rage, the gambler’s game of choice was Seven Card Stud. This classic poker variant requires a standard 52-card deck, a set of poker chips and a dealer button to play live, or you can choose from many online poker rooms that spread Seven Card Stud. Traditional poker hand rankings apply, meaning one pair beats ace-high, two pair is better than one, and flushes fall to full houses. Unlike the community cards shared by players to form their hands, Seven Card Stud is a game where you must play the cards dealt to you and yours alone. However, four of your seven cards will be face up as long as you remain in the hand, so opponents will have the partial ability to deduce your holding. The following rules are universal to Seven Card Stud and determine the game’s play in casinos and online poker rooms alike.
1.) All seated players must put in an ante, or forced bet, before each hand is dealt. The size of the ante ranges from 10% to 25% of the full bet in a given game.
2.) The dealer button is passed around the table in a clockwise fashion, with every player holding the button once during each orbit.
3.) Beginning with the player to the immediate left of the dealer button, each player is dealt two hole cards face down, followed by a third card face up which is known as the “door card.”
4.) The first betting round, also called “third street” because three cards have been dealt, begins with the player who is showing the lowest door card. This initial bet is called the “bring in” and is typically larger than the game’s ante but smaller than the minimum bet. In the popular $1-$5 spread limit Seven Card Stud games played in casinos and online, the bring in bet would be 75 cents.
5.) Once the bring in bet has been made, the player to the immediate left of the bring in has the option to call or raise the bet, or to fold their hand. This action moves around the table until every player has made their choice.
6.) Any raises made on third street must be equal, and not double, the game’s minimum bet. For example, in a $5/$10 Seven Card Stud game, there is a $5 limit on raises.
7.) After all betting on third street is completed, the dealer will deliver a fourth card to each remaining player. This card will also be face up, as will fifth and sixth streets.
8.) From fourth street forward the action always begins with the player showing the highest hand.
9.) Betting on fourth street through the showdown will be done in increments of the maximum bet for the game. So in a $5/$10 game of Seven Card Stud, the initial bet on fourth, fifth, sixth and seventh streets is $10 and players can raise an additional $10 until the action is capped.
10.) After the betting on sixth street is completed, the dealer will deliver a seventh and final card to each remaining player. This card will be dealt face down, giving each player a hand consisting of three unexposed hole cards and four cards exposed to their opponents.
11.) After the final round of betting is completed, players head to the showdown and reveal their holdings to see who has completed the best five-card poker hand.
Seven Card Stud Stakes and Limits
The betting structure of a particular Seven Card Stud game depends on the table stakes and limits. Lower stakes games are typically based on spread limit betting, and the $1-$5 spread limit Seven Card Stud games have been a fixture in Las Vegas for decades. In games with this betting structure, you are allowed to bet or raise any amount within the spread, from $1 through $5 and anywhere in between. The higher stakes Seven Card Stud games spread throughout online poker rooms today are known as fixed limit games because you can only bet or raise one of two fixed amounts. The $5/$10 fixed limit games found in online poker rooms allow players to bet $5 on third street, and $10 on all subsequent streets.