Seven Card Stud is a little more complicated than some other poker variants but it’s not really that difficult to play once you understand the rules. On this page we have explained all the rules you need to know to play this game and provided an illustrated table of the hand rankings that apply. We’ve covered the objective of the game, how each hand starts and how each betting round works.
If you’re looking for somewhere to play Seven Card Stud, please see the following page. This contains general information on the game and list of the most suitable poker sites for playing it online – Seven Card Stud Guide.
As it is with most forms of poker, the aim of the game in any given Seven Card Stud hand is to win the pot which contains all the chips bet by players during that hand. The pot is won either by the last player remaining if all other players fold, or by the player with the highest value hand if two or more players continue through all the betting rounds. A pot can also be shared equally between two or more players if they tie for the highest value hand.
Seven Card Stud is played using a standard deck of 52 playing cards. It can be played by two to nine players, although if more than seven are playing there need to be rules in place for what happens if the deck runs out. Each player can receive up to seven cards if they stay in the pot until the end, so it is possible to run out of cards. This is unusual, as at least one or two players will usually fold, but it can happen. The number of players is often limited to seven for this reason.
There are no community cards dealt in Seven Card Stud but some of the cards dealt to each player are face up, which gives players some information to work with in trying to determine what their opponents may be holding. The game is usually played using a limit betting structure rather than no limit or pot limit.
Hand rankings in Seven Card Stud are the standard five card poker hand rankings. If you’re not familiar with these you’ll need to learn them. We’ve shown them in the following table, starting with the highest value.
Starting a Hand
At the beginning of a hand all participating players must pay an ante. These forced bets go straight into the pot and they are usually around 10% or 20% of the small bet. If you were playing in a $10/$20 game, for example, the ante would probably be between $1 and $2.
Players are then dealt three cards each. Each player receives one card face up, which everyone can see, and two cards face down, which only they can look at. The player with the lowest value exposed card must then pay the bring-in, another forced bet. This is usually around 50% of the small bet. If two or more players tie for the lowest value exposed card, then suit rankings are used to determine who must pay the bring-in.
Following the bring-in, a round of betting takes place. The action moves around the table in a clockwise direction and each player can choose whether to fold (discard their hand and play no further part in the pot), call (match the highest bet at that point, providing it meets the minimum of one small bet), or raise (increase the size of the bet).
If all but one player folds, then that remaining player wins the pot. If two or more players call the highest bet made then play proceeds to the next round – fourth street.
At the start of fourth street each of the remaining players is dealt another face up card. A further round of betting then takes place, starting with the player who has the best hand based only on exposed cards and following the same format as before. The difference is that a player can check (which means stay in the hand without making a bet) if a bet has yet to be made on that round.
Following the completion of fourth street betting (and assuming more than one player remains), play moves on to fifth street. A fifth card is dealt to each player, face up, and another round of betting takes place following the same format as fourth street. A sixth card (sixth street) is then dealt face up to each remaining player and another round of betting (same format again) takes place.
The seventh and final card (seventh street) is then dealt to each remaining player. This is dealt face down. A final round of betting, following the same format as previous rounds, takes place and if more than one player remains play proceeds to showdown.
The last player to bet or raise on seventh street is the first to reveal their cards at showdown. Play then continues in a clockwise direction with each remaining player revealing their cards (they can choose not to show their hand if they are beaten). Players can use any five of their seven cards to make the best possible five card hand. Whichever player has the best hand as per the ranking table shown above wins the pot.