Seven-card stud is a variant of stud poker. Until the recent increase in popularity of Texas hold 'em, seven-card stud was the most popular poker variant in home games across the United States, and in casinos in the eastern part of the country. Two to eight players is common, though eight may require special rules for the last cards dealt if no players fold. With experienced players who fold often, even playing with nine players is possible.
The descriptions below assume that you are familiar with the general game play of poker, and with hand values. They also make no assumptions about what poker betting structure is used. In casino play, it is common to use a small ante and bring-in. In home games, it is typical to use an ante only.
Seven-card stud is the "S" game in HORSE and similar mixed game formats.
Quick play overview
Play proceeds as follows ("player" refers only to those who have not folded and are still in the game), with betting rounds in-between.
Betting is clockwise, the player with the highest poker hand showing starts (e.g. 2-2 beats K-Q).
Virtually all casinos deal:
- Two cards dealt face down to each player, one card dealt face up to each player
- upcard to each player (Fourth Street)
- upcard to each player (Fifth Street)
- upcard to each player (Sixth Street)
- downcard to each player (Seventh Street)
Mnemonic: Two-four-one (Two down, four up, one down.)
An increasingly popular variant called "Mississippi Stud" removes the betting round between fourth and fifth streets, making only four betting rounds. This game also deals the final card face up. This makes the game more closely resemble Texas Hold'em by having the same betting structure and same number of down and up cards.
In-depth play rules
The game begins with each player being dealt two cards face down and one card face up. If played with a bring-in, the player with the lowest-ranking upcard pays the bring-in, and betting proceeds after that in normal clockwise order. The bring-in is considered an open, so the next player in turn may not check. If two players have equally ranked low cards, suit may be used to break the tie and assign the bring-in (see high card by suit). If there is no bring-in, then the first betting round begins with the player showing the highest-ranking upcard, who may check. In this case, suit should not be used to break ties. If two players have the same high upcard, the one first in clockwise rotation from the dealer acts first.
After the first betting round, another upcard is dealt to each player (after a burn card, and starting at the dealer's left as will all subsequent rounds), followed by a second betting round beginning with the player whose upcards make the best poker hand. Since fewer than five cards are face up, this means no straights, flushes, or full houses will count for this purpose. On this and all subsequent betting rounds, the player whose face-up cards make the best poker hand will act first, and may check or bet up to the game's limit.
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