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5 Card Stud Rules

Page summary: A detailed insight to the rules and strategy behind 5 Card Stud.

5 Card Stud Rules - How To Play 5 Card Stud

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5 Card Stud is an interesting poker game in that you can see some of your opponent's cards. You can see four of your opponent's cards with one hole card. There are four betting rounds and the position is established randomly off each hand's initial deal. Knowing hand strength is very valuable in this game.


5 Card Stud is played by players paying an ante followed by each player being dealt two cards. One of them is face up and the other one is face down (the hole card). A round of betting takes place starting with the person who has the lowest face up card. There is a forced bet of either half the limit or the limit depending on the game for this player.

After the first round of betting, each player is dealt a third card face up. Another round of betting occurs. Then, each player gets a fourth card face up. The third round of betting takes place and players get their final card face up as well. Players can use any of their five cards. There is then a fourth round of betting. If a showdown is necessary, the remaining players reveal their hands. The object is to get the highest hand.

Hand Strengths

In this type of poker game, pairs or high cards are usually pot winners. You don't see a lot of straights, flushes and full houses taking down pots because everyone will fold. Each player can see all but one of their opponent's cards and that makes big hands a little bit harder to take large pots with.

It's important to know how the hands rank in 5 Card Stud and how they should be played. Any pair should be a playable starting hand. If you have a high hole card, you should play it if your opponent's have low cards showing. If both your cards are higher than your opponent's up cards you should play this starting hand. The starting hands for 5 Card Stud are significantly different than say, Texas Holdem. However, the hand rankings are the same. They rank as follows:

  • Royal Flush - A,K,Q,J,10, suits must be the same
  • Straight Flush - Same suit, any 5 consecutive cards
  • Four Of A Kind - Four cards in the same rank
  • Full House - Three of any same-valued card and two of another
  • Flush - Five cards of the same suit
  • Straight - Any suit, five consecutive cards
  • Three Of A Kind - Three cards of the same value
  • Two Pair - Two different pairs of cards
  • Pair - Two cards with the same value

If no one hits anything then the player with the highest card wins.

5 Card Stud Tips

Study your opponents and watch if they have play up cards that are low. If they aren't a bluffer, the card is probably paired in the hole or they have a high hole card. Watch out for up cards that pair the board (the shown cards). Your opponent could have paired with the hole card and be holding trips.

If you don't have a pair at least in the first three cards, fold the hand. If you're in early position only play cards that are not being shown by other players. These are referred to as live cards. Dead cards are cards that are on the board. For example, if you have a ten but you see that two other players have face up tens, your ten is a dead card. There's only one ten left in the deck and three people will hit the same pair. Don't marry your Ace in the hole, sometimes you have to fold it.

5 Card Stud is fun game that has a little bit of a different strategy to it. The key to this game is paying attention to your opponent's plays and their face up cards. Know which hands primarily win in this format and don't chase or draw like you may in other poker games. Don't forget, everyone can see what you have for the most part. Play that one hole card wisely and know how it correlates psychologically and realistically to all of the other cards shown on the table.