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7 Card Stud Poker

: Game Rules & Strategy
Object: The object of 7 card stud is to have the highest five-card poker hand at showdown, or to be the only player remaining in the hand after all other players have folded.

Hand Rankings: Hand rankings are as follows, with the highest hands first:

Hand Ranking Description Example
Royal Flush 5 suited cards in sequence, topped with the ace. For example, a Royal Flush in Spades. a playing card a playing card a playing card a playing card a playing card
Straight Flush 5 suited cards in sequence. For example, an Eight-high Straight Flush in Diamonds. a playing card a playing card a playing card a playing card a playing card
Four of a kind 4 cards of the same rank. For example, four Queens. a playing card a playing card a playing card a playing card a playing card
Full house 3 cards of the same rank, plus 2 cards of the same rank. For example, a full house with 3 aces and 2 fives is a Full House, Aces full of Fives. a playing card a playing card a playing card a playing card a playing card
Flush 5 cards of the same suit, not all of which are in sequence. For example, a King-high Diamond Flush. a playing card a playing card a playing card a playing card a playing card
Straight 5 cards in sequence, not all of which are the same suit. For example, a Ten-high Straight. a playing card a playing card a playing card a playing card a playing card
Three of a kind 3 cards of the same rank. For example, three Queens. a playing card a playing card a playing card a playing card a playing card
Two pair 2 different occurrences of 2 cards of the same rank. For example, Two Pair -- Jacks and Nines. a playing card a playing card a playing card a playing card a playing card
One Pair 2 cards of the same rank. For example, a pair of Queens. a playing card a playing card a playing card a playing card a playing card
High Card Cards all of which are different ranks and are not all the same suit. For example, Ace High. a playing card a playing card a playing card a playing card a playing card

If two or more hands are the same ranking, the winner is the one having the higher cards. For example, a Flush with an Ace high beats a Flush with a King high. If the poker hands remain tied, then the highest card not being held in common (the kicker) determines the winner.

Should poker hands be absolutely identical in ranking, the pot will be split evenly between the two or more winning players. If there is an odd chip, then either the winning player to the left of the button will receive it, or the odd chip will remain in the pot for the next hand (depending on the card room).

The Play of the Game: The play of the game proceeds as follows:

  1. All players ante
  2. Each player is dealt two cards face-down (hole cards) and one card face-up (door card)
  3. First betting round
  4. Each player is dealt one card face-up (4th street)
  5. Second betting round
  6. Each player is dealt another card face-up (5th street)
  7. Third betting round
  8. Each player is dealt another card face-up (6th street)
  9. Fourth betting round
  10. Each player is dealt a last card face-down (river)
  11. Final betting round
  12. Showdown

At the showdown for 7 card stud, rules indicate that players use any 5 of their 7 cards to make the best possible poker hand.

(Very seldom, a situation occurs where there are not enough cards left in the deck to give each player their own river card. In this event, the dealer will turn one boardcard face-up and it will be used as a community card.)

Betting Structure and Rules

There are five betting rounds in a complete game of 7 Card Stud, not including the ante.

On the first round of betting, the low card by suit is required to initiate action with a bet (the bring-in) that will be between a fifth and a half (depending on the game) of the lower limit. Suits are ranked: spades (highest), hearts, diamonds, clubs. On subsequent rounds, the high hand on board initiates betting action. If hands are tied, the player to the left of the dealer acts first. In all cases, the dealer will inform the players as to who acts first.

Each bet and raise during the first two rounds of betting is set at the lower limit of the stakes structure. For example in a $4/$8 game, all bets and raises are $4 for the first two rounds. The exception to this rule is if any player displays a pair with their 2 face-up cards on 4th Street. In this circumstance, all players have the option to bet either the lower limit or the higher limit. If a player bets the higher limit, then all subsequent raises must be made at the higher limit.

Each bet and raise during the last three rounds of betting is set at the higher limit of the stakes structure. For example in a $4/$8 game, all bets and raises are $8 for the last three rounds (5th street, 6th street and the river).

The maximum allowable number of bets per player during any particular betting round is four. This would consist of (1) a bet, (2) a raise, (3) a re-raise, and (4) a cap. The term cap is used to describe the 3rd raise in a round since betting is then capped and can not be raised anymore. Once the pot is capped, players will have only the option of calling or folding.

Check-raising is (usually) allowed.

Button and Blinds

A flat disk is used at the poker table; this is called the dealer button to indicate the theoretical dealer of each hand. After each hand has completed, the button moves clockwise to the next active player. Since betting is initiated based on the cards on the table (and not position as is the case in Texas Hold'em) there is no advantage or disadvantage to being the dealer in 7 card stud.

There are no blinds in 7 card stud.

Strategy

  • The best starting hands are, in order
    • Trips: Slow play this hand, as trips will often win the hand even without additional cards to improve the hand. By slow play, I mean try to keep as many players in the hand as possible by not raising at the lower betting limit, and waiting until the higher betting limits before raising.
    • High pairs (10s or better): Act aggressively; here, you want to knock out as many players as you can as soon as you can to minimize the risk that a weaker hand will improve as they are allowed to see additional cards.
    • Three to a flush: This is a drawing hand; stay in the pot at the lower betting limits if there are no or one raise, but be prepared to fold if your hand has not improved by the time the higher betting limits at the later streets are in play. Keep an eye out for cards in your suit that are dealt to other players, as this decreases the chances that you'll make your flush.
    • Three to a straight: Be careful here. Try to stay in cheaply to see that fourth card; if it helps your straight possibility, then continue to play, but fold otherwise unless all of your cards are high cards, or your fourth card gave you a high pair. Don't chase the straight!
  • Only play at stakes that you are comfortable playing.
  • Playing at the free sites like Yahoo Games and MSN Games will not help you learn to master this game; players at those sites are just pushing chips around, and stay to the end on every hand because they have nothing invested in the game.

Read, read, read! Then practice, practice, practice! Then, win, win win! :)

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