Classic American Poker Game
Seven card stud poker provides the basic platform on which other familiar modern games are modeled. Omaha and Texas Hold ‘Em are seven card versions of poker that have eclipsed standard 7 Card Stud in popularity and frequency of play.
Hundreds of years ago, when Western settlers played poker, it was most likely a seven or five card stud game. Classic versions include no wild cards, but the evolution of the 7 Card Game has come to include creative wild card variations like Dr. Pepper; conceived of the soda’s advertising campaign advocating soda consumption at 10, 2 and 4 o’clock. In the poker game, 2′s, 4′s and 10′s are wild.
Benny Binion unleashed the floodgates in the 1970′s, by creating a major poker tournament called the World Series of Poker (WSOP). The tournament’s flagship game, Texas Hold ‘Em has since risen to prominence, casting a shadow on traditional stud poker games.
Online players have taken to Texas Hold ‘Em, in part because each hand includes only four betting rounds; compared to 7 Card Stud’s five. The brisk pace of the betting sequence allows greater numbers of hands to be played every hour, which makes fiscal sense for players and online poker providers.
No limit Hold ‘Em is popular among high rollers, but 7 Card Stud is usually played with fixed limits. Online gamers also prefer to play multiple Hold ‘Em tables, which is difficult to do when the game is 7 Card Stud. Though it is not the number one draw for poker sites and casinos, loyal traditionalists still engage in lively games of 7 card stud – in person and online.
Seven Card Stud vs. Flop Poker Variations
Two primary distinctions set seven card stud apart from flop-based contemporary games like Texas Hold ‘Em and Omaha Poker. 7 Card Stud games do not utilize community cards; each player’s hand is comprised of unique cards that are distributed in a specific pattern of face-up and face-down dealing rounds. And unlike Hold ‘Em games that have rigid betting protocols, 7 Card Stud is a non-positional game, so each betting round might be initiated by a different player.
Seven Card Stud Rule Summary
7 Card Stud Poker is a game for 2-8 players, in which each active player receives a total of seven cards over the course of a hand. The highest ranking five card combination wins the pot. As players fold, and their hands are discarded, strategic 7 Card Stud players gain advantages by precisely monitoring which cards have been ‘burnt’ by folding players. Online, cards can be tracked using spreadsheets and specially designed poker software.
As in other stud poker games, each player is required to post an opening bet called an ‘ante’. The sum must be provided before any cards are dealt, and serves as a built-in stake for the hand. In 7 Card Stud Poker, the ante is usually equal to the amount of the table’s lower betting limit.
First Round of Cards
Once everyone has declared eligibility by placing their antes in the pot, the game moves forward with the first round of cards. Each player receives two ‘hole’ cards that are distributed face-down, followed by a single ‘up’ card that is visible to the whole table. In this round, the up card is called ‘third street’ or the ‘door card’.
Betting on Third Street
The first round of betting requires each player to make a wagering commitment based on the strength of the first three cards dealt. The player with the lowest valued door card is responsible for the ‘bring in’ bet, a predetermined opening wager that is often worth less than the standard table limit. Subsequent players are polled in a clockwise direction, until every player makes his or her intentions known.
Second Betting Round – Fourth Street
After receiving a fourth card, face-up, players have another betting opportunity. The round of wagering is initiated by the player exhibiting the strongest visible hand – based on the strength of his or her up cards. Some online rooms impose limits on raises, allowing only players with visible pairs to double the prevailing bet. Fourth street continues until each player has called the bet for the round.
On fifth street, the fifth card of the hand is provided, face up, and followed by another round of betting. Hands begin to take shape during this round, as players construct winning combinations, using two hole cards and three up cards.
Sixth Street – Fourth BettingRround
Sixth street proceeds with dealing and wagering sequences that are identical to those undertaken in the previous round.
Final Betting Round – The River – Seventh Street
Each player’s seventh, and final, card is dealt face down, leaving active players with three hole cards and four up cards. Hands are hard to read, because a player may be holding 60% of his or her best cards in the hole. Seven card games accommodate up to 8 players, so in the rare instance that the whole table remains active through the final round of cards, a special solution is employed. If the deck runs out during 7 Card Stud play, a single community card, which is shared by all remaining players, is dealt to the center of the table. Final round betting originates with the player with the best four visible cards.
Who Wins? – The Showdown
Players who see it through to the end reveal their best five card combinations in a head-to-head showdown that determines the winner of each hand. The last player who placed a bet shows his or her cards first, with the highest ranking 5-card hand taking home the pot.