5 Card Stud Poker
Five card stud poker is one of the most popular forms of stud poker. Along with seven card stud, it forms the basis of most popular stud poker game variations and can be found at nearly every live casino and Internet gaming site that provides modern poker games.
Stud poker differs from Texas Hold'em in several ways. While Texas Holdem's popularity became widespread on Mississippi river boats, five card stud was first played during the American Civil War. As the game developed, so too did the betting structure. Unlike Texas Holdem, a player's position has no impact on the betting structure and the order of betting in a round. As a result, the player who bets first will change with each round.
Usually two to six players participate in a game of 5 card stud. A player wins when the cards he has in his possession at final showdown make up the highest possible hand. This can be made up of any of the three cards a player receives from the dealer plus the community cards dealt in the course of the game. Regular poker hands apply in 5 card stud and an Ace can be used as a high and low card to make up straights.
Most five card stud games are fixed limit games where the betting limits are structured for each round. For example, if you are playing in a $10/$20 game, your initial bets and raises will cost $10 while later bets and raises will cost $20. Usually three raises per round of betting are permitted in fixed limit games.
A game commences when the dealer awards each player two cards. One card is dealt face up on the table and the other face down. There is no posting of big and small blinds to start the betting off as there is in Texas Holdem. Instead, the player whose upcard is the lowest must make the first bet of the game. In 5 card stud, a small minimum and a large minimum bet is usually commonplace. A player can make the lowest minimum bet in the first rounds until the fourth round where betting at the higher level becomes compulsory.
Following the first betting round, the other players proceed in a clockwise order to call the bet, raise it, or "fold" and forfeit their place in the game. The dealer will then give all players a third card, which is dealt face up. Another betting round follows. From this point on in the game (the second betting round), the player who has the highest upcard will take the first turn to bet or check in subsequent rounds.
After the fourth card (fourth street) is dealt, the minimum bet increases to the higher minimum level. The final card dealt (fifth street) signifies the beginning of the last round of betting. After this, all players must reveal their cards in final showdown, turning over any downcards to display their full hand. The player with the highest hand wins the entire pot.
Learning how to play five card stud poker is relatively easy, especially if you are familiar with Texas Holdem and have a solid understanding of how winning poker hands are made up. As you can see, the main differences stud poker offers Texas Holdem players is in the dealing of upcards and downcards, the posting of the initial bet and in the betting structure which is based on non-positional play.
An important distinction to make between 5 card stud poker and Texas Holdem is the different approach to poker strategy a player needs to adopt for each game. It is worthwhile remembering that 5 card stud is a game based on high cards and pairs. For this reason, most experienced players recommend that you should avoid playing for straights and flushes unless you are already on the way to making one before third street.
Knowing when to fold is an important part of five card stud strategy. The general rule is to fold if you do not make a pair within the first three cards. Bearing this in mind, make sure you try to retain high cards (ten through to Ace) in the first rounds. You should bet and call when you have high pairs and play on when you have two cards that are higher than those on the board. If you have an Ace, you may wish to stay in the game after third street providing you have another high card leaning toward a possible straight. If you have low or mismatched cards at third street, it is better to fold.
You should play on if you have any pair or if you hold two cards that are higher than the board or your opponent's upcard. For example, if you have a seven and an eight, you should play on if none of your opponents have an upcard greater than six. Similarly, you should play on if you have a high downcard and none of your opponents have an upcard that is higher than this downcard.
Understanding general poker strategy is just as useful in five card stud as it is in Texas Holdem. The ability to calculate pot odds and to work out what the probability is of making up a specific hand will stand you in good stead when it comes to playing this fun and entertaining poker variation.