How to play stud poker

Poker is arguably the most popular casino game globally. It is said that there are more poker players in the world than there are players of popular games like tennis and golf. 

Since its inception in the 18th century, the game has become one of the most loved by experts and amateurs alike. Its appeal may stem from the fact that it isn’t all about luck — some level of skill is required, but it is not too complicated for the average person to understand. 

Poker can be played anywhere by anyone, and it can be profitable when playing for money. 

It is a unique, absorbing social game that brings people together. Many families across the world get together for a game of poker from time to time, friends and neighbors meet for poker nights, and those who want to take their game to the next level can visit the nearest casino — they are guaranteed to find a game of poker that they can join. 

There are many variations of the game, including Texas Hold’em, Omaha Hi and Omaha Hi-Lo, Horse, Badugi, Razz Chinese poker, Short Deck, Pineapple and stud poker. 

Stud poker happens to be one of the most popular, and it’s played in homes, tournaments, clubs and just about anywhere else where people get together to play cards. It is often the first variant of poker that beginners learn because it is pretty straightforward and most people can understand the rules without any trouble. 

There are several theories as to how the game got its name, but many casino game historians propose that it originated somewhere in Ohio. 

A game of draw poker was underway, and one of the players had bet his last cent. He had a good hand and was determined to stay in the game, so he put his cards on the table, ran out of the room and returned with his horse. 

As he tied it to the back of his chair, he realized that he had made a mistake — he had left his cards on the table and was pretty sure the other players around the table had taken a peek. 

As he was determined to play to the very end, he suggested to the others that, in the spirit of fairness, the other players should turn over their cards, get rid of two, and then draw two more from the deck, face-down. Very sure of his chances, he wagered his horse. 

It may all sound a little fanciful, but many believe this is how stud poker came to be. 

Let’s look at the game in a little more detail and understand how to play stud poker, the basics of seven-card stud, and the rules of casino stud poker. Read on to understand casino stud poker hands by ranking order and the difference between poker and stud poker. 

The basics of stud poker aren’t difficult to understand. Each player holds a certain number of cards that are face-up and others that are face-down. Only the player can see the cards that are face-down, and all players around the table can see the ones that are face-up. 

There are two variations of the game, seven-card stud and five-card stud. They are played differently, and the way they end is also different. In seven-card stud poker, each player should have three cards face-down, and four cards face-up. In five-card stud, each player has one card face-down and four cards face-up. At the end of the game, each player turns over their face-down cards and the best hand is the winner. 

Certain strategies can improve a player’s odds of winning, whether they are playing seven-card stud poker or five-card stud poker. The first is that it isn’t a good idea to play every hand that is dealt. The best players are selective, playing only the strongest starting hands. 

The best starting hands include three of a kind, two jacks, or three sequential cards of the same suit. As players gain more experience, they can be less selective as they know how to maneuver through different hands. 

It is a good idea to observe the other players at the table. Experienced players track cards, and although they may not know where each one is, they have a fairly good idea from looking at those that are face-up around the table. 

When it comes to placing wagers, beginners ought to start small and only place bigger wagers when they are confident that they are experienced enough to win. Small wagers allow players to stay in the game for longer, and they don’t have to worry about losing more than they can afford. 

Basics of seven-card stud

Any reputable casino will have at least one game of stud poker going, and many now have online games that new players can use to practice before they visit a land-based casino. Games at Resorts Casino such as DJ Wild Stud Poker will let players gain skills and experience. 

At the beginning of each game, the players are dealt two face-down cards and one face-up card, and then there is a betting interval. The players are then dealt three face-up cards and another face-down card, and another betting interval ensues. At the end of the game, the player with the best five out of the seven cards they were dealt wins the game. 

Seven-card stud poker has a limited betting structure, which means that wagers are placed in fixed increments. If, for example, players opt for a game with a 2/4 betting structure, the bets for the first two rounds will be in increments of two, and the last three will be in increments of four. 

The gameplay in seven-card stud poker begins after the dealer hands out the cards to each player. He deals two face-down cards and then one face-up card to everyone around the table. After that, there is a betting interval followed by another round of dealing. The dealer hands out three face-up cards and one face-down card. 

There are different rounds that the game can go through such as the ante, third street, fourth street, fifth street, sixth street, seventh street, the river and the showdown. During the showdown, each player flips their down-facing cards and selects five that make the best hand. He must discard the other two and cannot retrieve them once he gives them up.

For betting options, there are several routes that a player can take. According to the basic rules of poker, whatever action the player takes is dependent on the action of the player before them, which means, for example, that if no other player has made a bet, the player can choose to check or bet. If the previous player makes a bet, the next one can choose to fold, call or raise. 

Certain terms are important when laying bets for seven-card stud poker. Check means that the player has declined to bet but holds on to their cards. Bet means that a player chooses to play and puts forward a wager. A call is when the player matches the amount of the previous player’s bet, and a raise is what happens when the player not only matches the previous player’s bet but also increases the amount. 

Rules of casino stud poker

It is important to learn the rules of whatever casino game one chooses to play, and for stud poker, there are several that are important to keep in mind:

  • Placing the ante — before any game starts, each player must place a nominal amount into the pot. It is the cost of the hand and whoever wins the hand takes whatever is in the pot. 
  • The first round starts with the lowest-value face-up card. A tie is broken by suit, and the lowest suit must place the bet. After that, the highest hand on the table initiates the action, and if there are ties they are broken by position (whoever receives cards first initiates the action). 
  • When a player completes an opening forced bet it doesn’t count as a raise but rather is considered the completion of the bet. 
  • In a fixed-limit game, when an open pair is showing on fourth street, any player can bet either the upper or lower limit.
  • In every game, the dealer can announce the low card, high hand, all raises and all pairs. 
  • If the dealer accidentally turns up the first- or second-hole card, the third card is dealt facing down. If both cards are dealt facing up, the player has a dead hand and receives their ante back. 
  • If a player isn’t at the table when it is their turn, they forfeit their ante as well as their forced bet if they had one. If they haven’t turned up by the time the next hand is dealt the hand is a non-starter. 
  • If a player folds after they make a forced bet, or when there is no wager on the table, they continue to receive cards until a bet is made. 
  • The player on the left can come in for the forced bet if the next player is all in for the ante and has the lowest card. 
  • If the wrong player is designated as low and they bet the action is corrected, if possible, with the right low card. That card must bet, and the one that was wrongly designated can take back their wager. 
  • If there aren’t enough cards on the table for the dealer to hand all the players, he holds on to the last card which is then mixed with the burn cards and all the cards that have already been removed from the deck. The dealer scrambles and cuts the cards and then delivers the remaining cards. After the hand is concluded, the dealer shuffles again and the game resumes. 
  • If a player picks up their up-facing cards without calling a bet their hand is dead. 
  • The winner must have seven cards by the time the game ends. 
  • If a card is dealt off the table, it plays but is considered a face-up card. 

Casino stud poker hands by ranking order

The best hand that a player can have is a five-of-a-kind, and it requires that the player has at least one wild card (a joker for example) to have a winning hand. This is however quite rare and usually only occurs in games that are played for many hours.

A straight flush is the best hand that a player can have when a standard deck that doesn’t have wild cards and jokers is used, and it means that they have a hand of five cards of the same hand in sequence. 

A four-of-a-kind means that the player has four cards of the same rank and one of a different rank, while a full house means that the player has three cards of the same rank and two of a different rank. 

Other winning combinations include a straight, which means that the player has five cards that are arranged in sequence but aren’t of the same suit, three of a kind where a player is holding three cards of the same rank and two of a different rank or two pairs where the player has two cards of the same rank, another two of a different rank and a lone card of another rank. 

A player can also hold a one pair, which means they are holding two cards of the same rank and three of three different ranks, or a high card, where cards are of any rank and aren’t in any particular sequence.

Difference between poker and stud poker?

There are many variants of poker, and seven-stud poker is one. The main difference between the variants is the rules, but if one can master just one variant, they have an easy time understanding the others. 

Seven-card stud poker may seem complicated, but like any casino game, players get better with practice. In the beginning, it is a smart idea to place small wagers because it extends the player’s bankroll. They have more time to play and therefore learn and understand the rules. 

Author: Tanya Fields

Campaign Acquisition Manager Length with RC: 1 year, 9 months Favorite Casino Game: Starburst Background in iGaming: Opened the iGaming Department at Hard Rock Atlantic City in 2018 in both Customer Service, and then CRM, prior to moving over to RC in January 2021 Location: Based in NJ at the RC HQ Content: Occasionally, but only as it pertains to RC