7 Card Stud Poker
Seven card stud is the most popular version of stud poker and is widely played online and in live casinos. Like five card stud, it is a game where cards are dealt face up (three cards) and face down (four cards). The objective of the game is to make the best five card hand using any combination of the seven cards dealt throughout the game. Generally two to eight players can participate in any one game of 7 card stud.
For those players familiar with Texas Holdem poker, it is worthwhile noting that the betting structure in 7 card stud is quite different. Seven card stud poker normally features an ante bet that is approximately one fifth of the low limit bet size. Each player must make this bet before the beginning of a hand. This action is the "ante up." It furnishes the pot before the hand but does not count toward future betting rounds.
A game commences when the dealer gives each player one card dealt face up. The player who has the lowest card is responsible for the "bring in" which means he must place half of the low limit bet size in the pot. This is counted as the first round bet. If more than one player has the lowest card, the one closest to the dealer's left is responsible for placing the first bet.
The betting structure in 7 card stud poker is as follows. In fixed limit games, all bets and raises must adhere to the low limit or high limit bet size. A player's contribution will depend on which round he is betting in. He must bet according to the low limit size in the first two rounds. In rounds three, four and five, bets increase to the high limit size. For example, a game with a betting structure of $5/$10 means you must bet $5 in the first two rounds and $10 in from the third round onwards. Like 5 card stud, a maximum of three raises are allowed in each betting round.
After the first betting round, two cards are dealt face down to each player followed by another card face up. Again the player with the lowest card must bet half the low limit bet or raise the bet by betting the full limit. All other players will participate in the betting round in a clockwise direction, either calling, folding or raising the bet.
When fourth street occurs, which is when each player receives another card dealt face up, the player with the highest hand is the first to bet. The betting round proceeds clockwise from this player. Players can choose whether to bet at the low limit or the high limit bet size. The bet size increases to the high limit bet size for all players after a fifth card is dealt face up to each player (fifth street.) This remains the same for sixth street and seventh street betting rounds.
In the seventh and final betting round, a single card is dealt in the centre of the table if eight or more players are still in the game. This is a rare occurrence but can result in a shortage of cards, making it impossible for each player to receive a final card. If this is the case, the single card dealt will go toward each player's best five card hand.
The first to reveal his cards at final showdown is the player who bet last in the previous round. From there, each player can either reveal his cards if he believes he has a chance of winning or "muck" them. If a player chooses to muck his cards, it means he knows he has no chance of winning the pot and as a result is not obliged to reveal his hand to his opponents.
Like other stud poker variations, seven card stud uses high cards to decide a winner. Most winning hands consist of a highest pair or two highest pair rather than straights and flushes. For this reason, 7 card strategy requires a player to focus on his high cards. If you have a low pair or low mismatched cards, you need to improve them before fifth street to justify staying in the game. If the cards on the board beat your high hand, you should fold.
If you have three cards ranging from ten through to Ace, you should retain these. High pairs should also be retained along with high face up cards if they are higher than the cards on the board. If you want to keep your opponents guessing, you should play lower hands building toward a straight or a flush until the fifth betting round in the hope that your hand may improve. However, you should fold if board cards or the cards belonging to your opponents have the potential of ruining your hand.
You should also keep a careful eye on your opponents' up cards. The first up card to be dealt is known as the door card. If your opponent has a pair to start, his door card will usually belong to that pair. This could indicate that he has stronger cards in his possession so you should proceed cautiously.
You will increase your chances of winning by learning how to calculate pot odds and by keeping a close watch on all the cards dealt throughout the game. Remember that the first four cards you have access to are key to winning 7 card stud. If you have unfavorable cards early on in the game, don't be afraid to fold and conserve your resources for the next hand.