How to Play Stud Poker – Rules and Winning Strategies

Last Updated: July 1, 2024

Written by Erik Jensen

There are a variety of different poker variants available at the top casinos in Canada, with stud poker being one of the most popular. Players will receive a mix of face-up and face-down cards in numerous betting rounds – and the player that has the best five-card combination wins the pot.

Two of the most popular stud games are five-card stud which was popularized during the American Civil War, and seven-card stud, which is now one of the most common and popular in casinos across the world. These games are the ones that form the basis of the more modern poker titles.

Here we will look at how the games are played and how to start winning.

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Seven Card Stud Poker

First, we will look at the most popular of all stud poker games, Seven-card stud poker.

In this game, players will be dealt seven cards over the course of the game. However, the winning hand will be made from the best five cards.

Know Your Hand Rankings – What Beats What:

1. Royal Flush – 10, j, Q, K and A of the same suit
2. Straight Flush – any 5 cards in numerical order of the same suit
3. Four of a Kind: Four cards with the same number i.e. four Kings
4. Full House: Three of a Kind plus a Pair in the same hand
5. Flush; 5 cards of the same suit (not in numerical order)
6. Straight: 5 cards in numerical order (not of the same suit)
7. Three of a Kind: Three cards of the same number i.e. three Aces
8. Two Pairs: Two sets of pairs – i.e. two Kings and two Fives
9. One Pair: One pair of matching number cards – i.e. two Tens
10. High Card: If a hand fails to have any of the above it will be judged on the highest value card.

Unlike the Omaha and Texas hold’em poker rules, this game is normally played with fixed betting increments. i.e. in a $3/$6 limit betting structure, the bets are increased in increments of $3 during the first two betting rounds and then up to $6 on the following betting rounds.

Stud Poker Online

Seven Card Stud Rules

Here are the main rules:

1: Ante

Before the game starts all players will need to ante a small amount (depending on the game), which is how much it costs to be dealt in. It can be as small as just $0.15 upwards.

2: Third Street

Players will be dealt three cards – one face-up card and two face-down cards (hole cards). The player that has the lowest-value face-up card will start the game. They will need to make a nominal bet or bet the lowest betting increment. The betting will continue in a clockwise direction.

3: Fourth Street

Players will now get another face-up card – Fourth Street. The player that starts this round of betting action will be the player whose two exposed cards have the highest value (i.e. if they have a pair of Aces or Kings for example). They can either check (stay at the current betting level) or bet the lower incremental betting amount (i.e. $3). The betting goes in a clockwise direction.

4: Fifth Street

After the third and fourth street comes the fifth street – where players are dealt another face-up card. The betting action starts with the player that has the best-exposed cards. Another round of betting starts. The best will go up to the higher betting increments (i.e, $6)

5: Sixth Street

All players will receive a new face-up card – sixth street. The player that starts the betting action will be the player with the best exposed cards.

6: Seventh Street/ The River

The players now get their seventh – and final card. This will be dealt face-down so no other player can see what it is. This is the final betting round and the first player to bet will be the one with the highest value exposed cards. If there is more than one player left, it goes to the showdown.

7: The Showdown

If there is more than one remaining player, the player who bet last (or raiser) will show their hand first. Hands will be revealed in a clockwise direction and the player that has the best five-card poker hand will win. If it is a draw, the pot will be split.

Betting Options

Stud poker betting options are very much the same as most other poker game variants. They have the options to:

  • Check: Decline to place a bet but still keep their cards (if no other player has yet made a bet)
  • Bet: Place their first bet
  • Fold: Thrown in their hand and leave the game
  • Call: Match the amount of the previous bet
  • Raise: Match the previous bet and increase the bet further.

What option is available to you as the player depends on what has happened previously. If you are the very first player in the first betting round, you have the option to check or bet only. After this, all other players will have the option to Fold, Call or Raise. In Limit games, bets and raises will be in pre-determined increments.

Other Stud Rules

If all other factors are equal, then the hand might be determined based on the card suit. So, you are looking to find the player to make the first bet based on the value of an exposed card, then a 10 of spades would beat a 10 of clubs.

1. Spades

2. Hearts

3. Diamonds

4. Clubs

Where spades are the most valuable and clubs are the lowest value. This can often be used to break a tie. However, this rule doesn’t count in the showing of the hands at the final showdown.

When playing the fourth street, should a player show a pair in their face-up cards, then the betting can either be opened as normal or raised to the higher limit in the betting structure. If a player does make the big bet in this instance, then this bet will remain in place for the rest of the betting round.

Because 7 Card stud games can be played with up to 8 players – and there are only 52 cards in the deck, you could run out of bets before reaching the seventh street. This is very rare, but in this instance, one exposed community card will be dealt and shared by the rest of the remaining players.

Basic Five-Card Stud Poker

We also have 5-cards stud, which isn’t quite as popular, but still has a good following among the poker community. This is very similar to the seven-card game.

The start works in much the same way. All players, before the game begins, will place their starting stake – the ante into the poker pot. They will each then be dealt two cards – one hole card (face down) and one face-up card.

The First Round

The players with the lowest exposed card will start the first betting round. If there is more than one player with the same low card, then the closest player to the left of the dealer begins. They have the same betting options: Check, Bet, Fold, Call or Raise.

If a player does raise, the following players will then be able to either fold or call. No raises will be possible until the next round.

The Following Rounds

The players will then be dealt another face-up card and the next round of betting will then begin, starting with the player closest to the left of the dealer that hasn’t yet folded. The players will then have the option to fold, call or raise.

This is repeated until all of the remaining players have either Called or Folded.

When the fifth (and last) card is dealt, this will mark the final round of betting – which is when the showdown occurs.

The Showdown

If one player has bluffed so well that there are no remaining players left, he will automatically win the pot – even if he doesn’t have a good hand. However, if there is more than one player left, hands are revealed and winners are declared.

Other Stud Games

Although these are the two most common and popular variants of stud poker, some of the very best Canadian poker sites may well offer even more for you to enjoy. Such games include Seven Card Stud Hi/Lo, Stud Eight or Better, Razz and more.

Ultimately, stud poker is the perfect type of game if you want to play poker how it was always meant to be played. It is simple, fun and easy to get the hang of. Once you know the different betting rounds and get the hang of the different betting options (and learn how to bluff well) then the game offers lots of potential. This is a game that combines luck, skill and strategy in the perfect combination.

Why not play poker for free to get in your practice, then take your skills to a real table for real money – and win some seriously good money!

Erik Jensen is a seasoned gambling expert that has previous worked at one of the largest igaming companies globally. He has also extensive experience working with online casino campaigns for the biggest companies in the world. In the last 5 years Erik has solely been focusing on the Canadian market to give the best up to date news and best casino bonuses available for the Canadian casino players.

Erik Jensen
Erik Jensen
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