Stud poker is a variant of poker that has earned a distinguished place in the history of card games.

Although it is less common compared to other types of poker such as Texas Hold’em or Omaha, stud poker presents a unique structure and rules that make it interesting and challenging for players looking to diversify their poker experience.

In this article, we tell you in detail what stud poker is and the fundamental rules that govern this card game.

What is stud poker

Stud poker, also known as “stud” or “Seven Card Stud,” is a variant of poker traditionally played with a deck of 52 cards.

Unlike Texas Hold’em, where two closed cards are dealt to each player and five community cards are used, in stud poker, players are dealt seven individual cards throughout the hand, of which three are visible to all players and four remain hidden. This aspect distinguishes stud poker from other poker variants and contributes to its strategic complexity.

The main objective of stud poker is to form the best possible five-card hand from the seven cards dealt during the hand. Winning hands in stud poker follow the same rankings as in other poker variants, from royal flush to lowest pair. The ability to evaluate and adapt strategies as more cards are revealed is essential to success in stud poker.

Stud poker rules

Knowing the basics of stud poker and how it is played is important. The game is played over several betting rounds and is governed by a specific set of rules that determine how cards are dealt and how bets are placed.

Here are all the basics of stud poker and the essential rules of the game:

Card dealing

In stud poker, seven cards are dealt to each player throughout the hand. These cards are distributed as follows:

  • Two-hole cards. Each player receives two cards face down (closed), which only he can see.
  • Four open cards. Throughout the hand, four cards are dealt face up (open) in the center of the table. These cards are visible to all players.
  • A closed card. Finally, one last card is dealt face down to each player.

Betting Rounds

Stud poker consists of multiple betting rounds. Each betting round follows a specific pattern:

  • Starting bet. Even if you don’t know how to play stud poker, this will be familiar to you because all games usually start this way, regardless of the game. After receiving the two closed cards and one open card, the player with the lowest value open card (called the “door card”) starts the first betting round. This player can choose to call, raise or fold.
  • Fourth open card. Then, the fourth open card is dealt. From this round on, the betting starts with the player who has the best visible combination of cards (the four open cards).
  • Fifth open card. The fifth open card is dealt and another round of betting takes place.
  • Sixth open card. The sixth open card is dealt and another round of betting takes place.
  • Seventh closed card. Finally, the seventh and last card, which is a closed card, is dealt. The last betting round takes place.

Show of cards

After the last betting round, the players still in the hand must show their cards to determine who has the best hand. The winning hand is made up of the five best cards of the seven cards held by each player: the two closed cards and the three best open cards. The player with the best hand wins the pot.

Tie-breaking rules

In the event of a tie, the standard stud poker tie-breaker rules apply. First, the players’ hands are compared to determine who has the best combination. If two or more players have the same hand (for example, two straight flushes), the pot is split between them.

Ante and betting limits

Stud poker is often played with a betting structure that includes an ante and betting limits. The ante is a forced bet that all players must place before the cards are dealt. In addition, there are betting limits that determine the maximum amount a player can bet or raise in each round.

Stud poker strategy

Stud poker is a game of strategy and skill. Since the cards are dealt in a partially visible manner, players must pay attention to their opponents’ open cards and use that information to make informed decisions. Starting hand selection and the ability to read opponents are critical to success in Stud poker.