7 Card Stud Poker is the daddy of all stud poker games. Played with a maximum of five rounds of betting, the idea of the game is to get the best five card hand from the seven you are dealt. Making other players believe that you have the best five card hand is all a matter of skill, and the secret of profitable 7 Card Stud Poker is observation – remember which cards have been folded face up and how they could influence not only your own hand but those of your opponents.
How to Play 7 Card Stud Poker
Players in a game of 7 Card Stud Poker pay an ante to be dealt three cards – two face down, and one face up. The player with the lowest value card showing pays a “bring in” equivalent to half the small blind or can bet the full small blind. Players to the left of the “bring in” can then call the bet, fold their hand or raise by the amount of the small blind. A maximum of three raises are permitted in each round of betting.
When the initial round of betting is completed, a fourth card is dealt face up to each player remaining in the hand and a further round of betting ensues starting with the player who has the highest two-card combination open in front of them. This pattern is repeated until betting is concluded following the seventh dealt card (the only other card to be dealt face down) – when the player displaying the best hand wins the pot – or until there is only one player left in the hand, who wins the pot by default.
Winning hands are determined by standard hand hierarchy with no distinction between suits. Therefore if two players have a pair of tens, the next highest card (the “kicker”) will determine the winner. However if two players have identical straights of the same value, the pot is split between the two winners. Once a hand is completed, and the winner paid, the button moves one place to the left on the table and the next hand is dealt.
7 Card Stud Poker Strategy
The key to profitable strategy is to make it expensive for other players to call your bets when you have a made hand or try to limp in when you have a drawing hand. For example, if you are dealt a pair of tens or better – raise, raise, raise right from the first round of betting. If other players see that you are going to continue this action through the following four rounds of betting, they will be calculate how much it is going to cost them to continue in the hand and usually fold. If you have three cards to an outside straight (ie 9♥, 10♦, J♣) or flush (3♥, 9♥, Q♥), get to the next round as economically as possible.
If you fail to make a hand by fifth street, it is often worth your while to check or fold. Although it does not hurt to get caught bluffing every once in a while (so that other players do not fold every time you make a bet), it can get very expensive chasing a hand through the big blind rounds of betting that may never materialise. As with any form of poker, the cards play third fiddle to the betting characteristics of the players you are seated with and also your position in the order of betting.
(Small/Big Blinds explained: On a table advertised as $1.00/$2.00, the small blind is $1.00 and the big blind $2.00. The first two rounds of betting are played with multiples of the small blind and, after five cards have been dealt, the last three rounds of betting are played with multiples of the big blind.)