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Stud Poker Rules

Page summary: An overview of the rules and strategies generally used in Stud Poker and the multiple variations of this popular format.

Stud Poker Rules - How to Play Stud Poker

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Stud poker is a popular format of poker that evolved to create a wide range of variations. The most common forms of Stud Poker are 7 Card Stud, 5 Card Stud, Razz and Caribbean Stud. Games that have a high end and a low end of the pot have also become quite popular with games like 7 Card Stud Hi/Lo. Stud Poker also offers interesting twists within different variations, bringing things such as wild cards to the table.


Stud Poker contains a basic concept in which each player has cards face down as well as cards face up. Stud Poker is usually played with antes. The antes are determined by the table and are dependent upon what level stakes you are playing.

Once each player puts in their ante, the dealer will deal each player their cards. This initial deal usually consists of a certain number of cards face down and a certain number of cards face-up. In the most commonly played Stud games such as 5 Card Stud and 7 Card Stud, each player has only one card face-up on the initial deal.

The face-up card is used to determine the bring-in. The bring-in is how the table determines which player starts the betting off. Most games determine the bring-in by the player that has the lowest card face-up. The bring-in is a forced bet that is usually half the small side of the table limit unless otherwise specified by the table. For example, in a $2/$4 game, the bring-in would be $1 (1/2 of the $2 small side).

Stud Poker variations all typically use five or seven cards for each player to use for their hands. In 7 Card Stud, each player receives two cards face down and one card face-up on the initial deal. However, in 5 Card Stud each player receives one card face down and one card face-up.

In each of these formats, 7 Card and 5 Card, each player will ultimately have four of their cards that are face-up by the end of the hand. Thus, in 5 Card Stud you will have one card remaining that is not disclosed - also called a hole card. In 7 Card Stud, you will have 3 hole cards.

5 Card Stud

5 Card Stud initially deals you one card face-down and one card face-up followed by a betting round. After the betting round there is third street where each player is dealt another face-up card. This is repeated to a fourth street and a fifth street. Each street gives you another face-up card and contains a betting round in between. After fifth street there is a final betting round and a showdown if necessary.

7 Card Stud

7 Card Stud works similarly except there is one more card dealt initially and one more street. 7 Card Stud has an initial deal of two cards face down and one card face up. There is an initial betting round followed by fourth street. Fourth street is another card face-up followed by a betting round. The same process repeats for fifth and sixth street.

In 7 Card Stud, seventh street is the final card; however, the card is dealt face down. After the final card, there is one last betting round and a showdown if necessary.

In both of these commonly played Stud Poker games (7 Card Stud and 5 Card Stud), the highest standard poker hand wins.

7 Card Stud Hi/Lo

A common form of Stud Poker is the Hi/Lo format. The betting rounds and dealing of the cards in 7 Card Stud Hi/Lo is identical to 7 Card Stud. The difference arrises when considering who is entitled to the pot.

In 7 Card Stud Hi/Lo, there is a high end and a low end to the pot. The low hand has to qualify. 7 Cards Stud Hi/Lo is also often referred to as 7 Card Stud Eight or Better. What this means is that to qualify for the low hand, you have to have a five-card poker hand with no cards higher than eight.

In 7 Card Stud Hi/Lo, the best low hand is the wheel hand, A-2-3-4-5. Straights and flushes do not count against the low value of the hand and Aces can be used for high or low value. In a Hi/Lo format, the person with the highest hand is entitled to half the pot if there is a player with a qualifying low hand. The qualifying low hand is entitled to the other half.

If there is a split pot on either end of the pot, this is called quartering. Two players may split the high end half and the low end gets the other half. Therefore, the two that split only actually receive a quarter of the pot.

The objective in Hi/Lo is to scoop the entire pot. You want to have the best low hand that also has a chance at taking the high end as well. For example, A-2-3-4-5 is the best low hand possible but you also have a five-high straight. Another example would be, A-3-4-5-6 suited. You possess a 6 high low hand and a flush. These hands are where you are looking to really capitalize in Hi/Lo format.


Razz is another common variation of Stud Poker. This is game is played exactly the same as 7 Card Stud. However, Razz is like the low side to 7 Card Stud Hi/Lo. The lowest hand wins in Razz. Just like in 7 Card Stud Hi/Lo, straights and flushes do not count against the low value and Aces are always low.

Stud Poker is an exciting format of poker that offers plenty of variations to throw a few twists in the game. Wild cards are something rarely seen. However, if you are playing in a game with wild cards just remember the rules and objectives remain the same. The wild card simply means that the specified card that is wild will be able to be used as any card you wish to complete a hand. Each table has variations on wild card rules and uses. If you're new to Stud Poker, you may want to try playing 5 Card and 7 Card Stud to get used to the format. As you become more comfortable, give other variations a try and see which one you like the best.