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7 Card Stud Hi-Lo Rules

Page summary: An overview of how to play 7 Card Stud Hi-Lo. Includes the rules and strategy behind this popular poker game.

7 Card Stud Hi-Lo Rules - How to Play 7 Card Stud Hi-Lo

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7 Card Stud Hi-Lo is a difficult poker game to master and some may even find the concept of winning with either a low or high hand to be a little confusing. If you're unfamiliar with the game, it's not recommended to take the full bankroll to the table. However, the game is fun and you can learn on a low budget or just play for fun at first. As with any poker game, you will need to know hand strengths and position. In 7 Card Stud Hi-Lo, you will also need to know what qualifying hands are on the low end and how the pot division works.


In 7 Card Stud Hi-Lo, the highest hand doesn't necessarily win the entire pot. The highest hand may have to split the pot with the lowest qualifying hand. Since the low hand must qualify, every hand will have a high hand winner but there may not be a qualifying low hand. To qualify for a low hand, you have to have five cards that are below nine. Aces can be used for high or low. For example, an A,2,3,4,5 straight is the best possible low hand. Flushes and straights do not take away from the hand being low. With this hand, it is very possible that you may have the best high and low hand with a five high straight.

The hand is dealt by each player receiving three cards. Two cards are face down (hole cards) and one card is face up. The player with the lowest face up card is the bring-in. The bring-in is the person that is forced to make a bet. Usually, this is a determined amount that is less than the small limit or, in some cases, it is the small limit. In $1/$2 limit, $1 would be the small limit.

The bring-in is used to determine position - it is where the betting rounds begin. There are no blinds and 7 Card Stud Hi-Lo collects an ante from each player before the cards are dealt. After the antes are placed, three cards are dealt to each player and the buy-in has been determined, we reach the first round of betting.

After the first round of betting, 4th street is dealt to each player with another card face-up. A second round of betting occurs and 5th street is another card face-up dealt to each player. A third round of betting takes place and the same thing occurs for 6th street. Another face-up card and a fourth round of betting take place. The final card, 7th street, is a hole card. There is a final round of betting followed by a showdown if necessary.


The fact that you can win on the high and low end of the card spectrum, makes this game a little tricky. However, you don't have to beat the hand on the opposite end, you will just split the pot. Watch the pot - taking down the entire pot in a profit sense is much more advantageous than taking a couple half pots. For a high hand, you can play any five of your seven cards. The hands rank the same on the high end in 7 Card Stud Hi-Lo as other commonly known poker games such as Texas Holdem.

To be successful In 7 Card Stud Hi-Lo, you need to learn to play hands that have a chance at taking both ends of the pot. Experienced Hi-Lo players rarely play hands that don't have a chance at taking both ends unless they are absolutely certain to take one of the ends. If you're drawing to hit both ends and around 5th street it looks like you may not win either end, you should fold.

Starting Hands

Having the knowledge of what starting hands are the best to have in 7 Card Stud Hi-Lo is a necessity to be even remotely profitable in the long run. Trips are the best, with A-A-A being the best trip hand. Pocket Aces with a low third card (under eight) is also a great starting hand. In this case, you have a pair of Aces for the high end and you are able to qualify for the low hand.

Three cards that are wheel cards, suited or unsuited, containing an Ace and two low cards or no ace with wheel cards under eight are also good starting hands. For example, A-2-4, A-3-5, 2-3-5. Other playable starting hands include three suited cards with a low card and an Ace (A-Q-6). Any three cards that are under eight are also acceptable starting hands.

Position - Betting

Always be mindful of your position. The last person to act has the best position and it gets worse as it moves towards the first person to act. 7 Card Stud Hi-Lo players usually play for the low hand. Playing for the low hand and hoping to also hit the high hand is the generalized strategy. You're usually playing for half the pot but the example of a A-5 straight is just one in which you can easily win both ends.

If you're sure that you have one end of the pot and feel that other players are fighting for the other end, raise bet. If three players are calling your bets to win one end of it, your half is better than they're potentially split half, so build up the pot.

7 Card Stud Hi-Lo has a unique strategy and can be difficult for players that are not familiar with Hi-Lo games. Learn the starting hands and the objective of the game and play accordingly. If you're an experienced poker player but are new to Hi-Lo, incorporate position play and the ability to read your opponents. 7 Card Stud Hi-Lo players are usually going for the low end when they consider starting hands, so keep that in mind.