SEVEN CARD STUD POKER RULES

7-Card Stud is one of the oldest poker games around, and continues to be the game of choice for home tables around the world.

The game itself is fairly easy to learn. Each player is dealt two face-down "Hole Cards", and a face-up "Door Card". The dealer then deals to each player in turn three more face-up cards, and one more face-down card. The player with the highest five-card hand takes the pot.

There are a few key concepts you should know about for 7-card stud. The first we'll talk about is the antes...

Antes

At the beginning of every hand, each player must contribute a small bet called the ante. Antes are used as an incentive for players to play the hand, and build the pot.

The Stakes

In the main lobby table list you may have noticed a "stakes" column. For each 7-card stud game, the stakes dictate the bet and raise amount for each round of betting. The lower number is used for the first two rounds, and the higher number for the last three.

Let's use a $5/$10 stakes example. In the first two rounds of betting, both the bet and the raise must be $5, no more, no less. The last three rounds have a bet/raise amount of $10.

The Cap

In 7-Card Stud, each round of betting can consist of one bet and has a maximum of three of allowable raises, known as the cap. So, if a bet is made, that bet can only be raised three times, after which all players must call, or fold. However, if only two players remain in the hand the cap is increased, to a maximum of five raises.

Game Action

So you want to play some 7-Card Stud. You've chosen your stakes and taken a seat at the table. What now?

Ante Up!

All players must ante. If you wanna play, you gotta pay.

The Pocket and the Door

The dealer deals each player in turn two face down cards (the pocket), then a face-up card (the door.) After this, the first betting round, beginning with the bring-in...

The Bring-In

The player with the lowest showing door card must post "the bring-in," a mandatory initial bet of usually half the smaller stake amount. The bring-in player has the option to increase this bet to the full small stake.

If two players are showing the same door card, we'll use the suit rankings to decide which card is weakest. The ranks of the suits are (strongest to weakest): Spades, Hearts, Diamonds, and Clubs.

The bring-in's purpose is much like the ante's: to encourage players to stay in a hand, and build the pot.

To stay in the game, all players must call, raise or fold to the bring-in bet. Betting begins to the bring-in player's left, and continues clockwise. If the bring-in opens with half the low stake, the first raise will "complete" the bring-in, raising it to the lower stake limit. Any raises after that must be the lower stake amount.

So, at our $5/$10 table, if a player brings-in with $2, and you want to raise him, you must raise $3, completing the bring-in. Now, any player that raises after you must raise $5.

Still with us? Great! On to Third Street.

Third Street

After the Bring-In bets have all been called, each player is dealt another face up card, called "Third Street." Now, the highest showing hand opens the betting round. If a pair is showing for any hand on Third Street, that player has the option of doubling their bet amount, and "raising the stake" for this betting round. Otherwise, Third Street bets and raises are limited to the small stake.

So, let's say we're in our $5/$10 game, and your facing cards show a pair. You now have the option of doubling the bet to $10, and if you do, any subsequent raises have to be the upper stake limit of $10. If you choose not to double up, the bet/raise amount stays at $5 for this round.

Fourth Street

Another face up card is dealt to each player, and high hand opens the betting round. For these last three rounds, the bet amount is now the higher stake ($10 in our $5/$10 game).

Fifth Street

The fourth face up card is dealt to each player, and high hand opens the betting round. For these last three rounds, the bet amount is now the higher stake ($10 in our $5/$10 game).

The River

The final card is dealt to each player face down, making a total of 7 cards in each hand. Now the final betting round begins, and as before, the highest showing hand starts the betting. The River bets are still limited to the upper stake. ($10 in our $5/$10 game.)

A Special Circumstance

At this point, you may be doing some math in your head, and thinking 7 cards times 8 potential players equals 56 cards... more cards than we have in the deck! To solve this issue, if all 8 players are still in the game by the river, the dealer will flip a single community card in the middle of the table, which can be used by all 8 players to fill their hand.

The Showdown

OK, now all the bets have been called, and it's time to pay the winner. The last player to bet or raise during the final betting round (the river) will show their hand first. If all the players checked through (nobody bet) on the river, the player to the left of the dealer will show first. The remaining players' hands will be automatically revealed moving clockwise, unless a hand is weaker than the winning hand shown. In this case, you'll have the option to show, or muck (fold without showing). The best five-card hand takes the pot. For a complete list of hand rankings, please consult the Hand Rankings page.

Buying The Pot

If during a betting round you make a bet and all players fold to you, you've bought the pot. You have the option to show or muck your cards.

A Final Note...

If that all seems rather complicated and likely to last an eternity, don't worry. It really is quite simple, and despite a few stages in each hand it passes very quickly.