Seven-Card Stud might not be the most popular poker variant you will find, but it’s not one of the lesser known ones either. This is considered a classic poker game and it can be played both in high-hand and in hi-lo variants, with the former being the one we’ll focus on here. It is also the game that represents the letter S from the HORSE type of poker.
The game involves the use of seven cards, just like the name suggests, but you only get to choose five of those in order to form your hand that you will use against the other players. For that purpose the cards used are any of those available, without restrictions. The only target here is to form the best hand possible with five of the seven.
The game starts with the ante bet that is placed by all the players that take part in the game. Next, you will find the dealer giving the players cards, with the first ones given to the players from his left side and continuing until he arrives back to himself. Each player gets during this initial stage two cards that are with the face down plus a third card that is with the face pointing up. All players get a chance to check out the two cards that they received face down, the ones that only they can see.
The third card, the one that is showing, determines the player that gets to place the small bet, also known as “bring in”. It’s the lowest value card that points to the player that does that. The rest of the players bet as well, starting from the left side of the player with the lowest showing card. Folding, calling and raising are the three actions available to all players.
When the players are done with this betting round, the dealer will give the players the second card that is placed face up. This part of the game is known as a “turn” or “fourth street”. During this turn and all the betting sessions that follow, the one placing the first wager is the one that has the best showing cards on the table.
Once the fourth card’s betting round is done a fifth card will be dealt, also with its face pointing up. This is the river, also known as fifth street. A round of betting follows after it, and then another card will be dealt with its face up (sixth). An additional betting round comes next and then the last card is dealt, only this time it’s placed with the face down. The last betting round comes after that and then it’s time for the showdown.
The showdown gets all the players to show the hands they formed both from the hidden and the showing cards. If a player manages to form the best possible hand at the table, using just five of the seven dealt cards, he is the winner of the game.
There are a number of variants of 7 Card Stud out there, one of them being Mississippi Stud where there are fewer betting rounds (gets rid of the round between the 4th and 5th cards) and where the last card is dealt with the face up. Another variant would be Roll Your Own.