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How to Play 7 Card Stud

Get an edge with these quick tips and basic strategies

Played with 2 hole cards, 4 up cards and 1 down card, 7 Card Stud was the game of choice for poker players before the "Hold'em Boom".

Since so much information is revealed in the up cards, memorization and math are key components of Stud, and make it a relatively complex game.

Back in the late 1800's, 7 Card Stud was the game of choice for riverboat gamblers up and down the Mississippi River.

7 Card Stud Poker
Game Complexity Intermediate
Type Stud Poker
Players 2-8

Gameplay of 7 Card Stud

  • Setting Up

    Setting Up

    • You'll need: Antes from each player.
    • Use a limit betting structure.
    • Deal each player 2 cards face down and one card face up. This is 3rd street action.
    • Play begins with a forced "bring-in" bet where the lowest up card (called the door card) must make a bet. In the event of a tie, the lowest suit goes first - suits are ranked alphabetically, clubs (lowest), diamonds, hearts then spades (highest).
    • Action goes clockwise starting with the player left of the bring-in. Players may either fold, call or complete the small bet amount. Once a player has completed the bet, all other players can fold, call or raise. Raises are capped on each street at either 3 or 4 raises (4-5 bets).
  • Action

    The Action

    • There are 5 betting rounds:  3rd street, 4th street, 5th street, 6th street and 7th street.
    • On 4th street all remaining players are all dealt an up card. Action starts with the best high hand showing.
    • Action on 5th and 6th streets occur the same as 4th street, except the bet is doubled (also known as the big bet).
    • On 7th street the card is dealt face down and betting occurs the same as 4th - 6th streets.
  • Who's the Winner?

    Determining a Winner

    • Players who complete the last round of betting without folding go to the showdown.
    • The player with the best 5-card hand wins.

Basic Strategies of 7 Card Stud

  • 3rd Street

    Beginners should focus on playing starting hands with one pair.

    Position is not as important in 7 Card Stud. The highest hand goes first on every street and moves clockwise, so the order of play can change from street-to-street.

    Scan other players' door cards to see if your outs are still live.

  • 4th Street

    This is where beginners should decide to play the hand out or fold. The bet will double on 5th street so choose wisely.  

    One more street means more information. Keep track of the up cards to see if you are drawing to live outs. 

    Pay attention to other players' hands: if their outs are in other players' up cards, they could be bluffing.

  • 5th-7th Streets

    Betting doubles on 5th-7th streets. Keep watching the boards of other players to see if you are drawing live.

    If you have a marginal hand on 7th street, you most likely have the correct odds to call.

What You Need to Know About 7 Card Stud Starting Hands

  •  Good Starting Hands

    Play these hands:

    • Any high pair hand.
    • Low pairs where your two cards are not on other players' boards.
    • Three high suited cards where your outs are not on other players' boards.
  •  Poor Starting Hands

    Never play these hands: 

    • Three low cards, suited or not, connected or not.
    • Hands where most of your outs are already appearing on other players' boards.
  •  Marginal Starting Hands

    Play these hands sparingly:

    • Suited and/or connected hands.
    • Paired hands where players have higher door cards than your pair.
  •  Positional Hands

    Play in late position when folded to you:

    • Complete hands where all remaining door cards are lower than yours.
    • Hands where you can represent a big hand and narrow the field to 1 opponent (try to steal the antes if nothing else).

Do's and Don'ts for Better 7 Card Stud Play

  • Don't Slow Play

    With the lone exception of rolled-up hands (3 of a kind), bet your strong hands. Slow-playing hands in 7 Card Stud will lose you money both on lost bets as well as giving your opponents a chance to catch up.

  • Straight Draws and Flush Draws

    There is an old saying in 7 Card Stud, "Those who chase straights and flushes come in limos, and leave in buses." Generally chasing flush and straight draws is a bad idea in 7 Card Stud and can cost you dearly.

  • Watch the Up Cards

    It can't be stressed enough- you MUST watch and memorize the boards of other players, including folded cards. Knowing what cards have been dealt helps you both in calculating your outs as well as the outs of your opponents.

Famous 7 Card Stud Hands

  • 7 Card Stud: Famous hand from the World Series of Poker

    Daniel Negreanu runs into rolled-up deuces and faces some tough decisions.  

    This Video Contains:

    1. A hand from the 2007 WSOP $2,000 7 Card Stud Event.
    2. Negreanu starts with a split pair.
  • 7 Card Stud: Tom "Donkey Bomber" Schneider teaches 7 Card Stud.

    The 2007 WSOP Player of the Year, teaches Lacey Jones to play 7 Card Stud.

    This Video Contains:  

    1. Tom Schneider, Lacey Jones.
    2. Why you complete the bet with the Ace up on 3rd street.

Where Can I Play 7 Card Stud Online?