Introduction to 7 Card Stud
7-Card Stud is the best known and most commonly played Stud poker variant. Ability to think quickly, assess hand ranges, and memorization are the most important techniques in becoming a good 7-Card Stud player.
The object is to make the best 5-card poker hand from your 7-cards according to the standard poker hand rankings.
The betting structure and order are significantly different to community card based games like Texas Hold’em and Pot Limit Omaha and will take some adjustment from players whose exposure is primarily to these games.
The initial difference is the payment of the ante. Although this is slowly being introduced to No Limit Hold’em, the ante is a fixture in stud games. Typically it is about 1/5 of the ‘small bet’ and is paid by all players dealt into the hand.
Each player is dealt two cards faced down and one ‘door card’ face up. This part of the 7 Card Stud hand is known as ‘3rd street’. The player with the lowest door card must pay the ‘bring-in’, which might be 1/3-1/2 of the small bet. If some players have the same rank of up card, who pays the bring-in is decided by the ranking of the suits where spades is the strongest, followed by hearts diamonds and then clubs.
The betting then continues clockwise from the player to the left of the bring-in and each player may fold, complete (match the small bet) or raise (to double the small bet). When the betting round is complete, each player receives another up-card (known as 4th street) and this continues for 2 more up cards and final down card (7th street) and the showdown.
As the hand progresses, note that the player with the highest 7-Card Stud hand showing has the betting lead, and the bet size changes from the small bet to the big bet on 5th street, similar to the other Stud poker variants.
Memorization in Stud Games
One of the key techniques of Stud poker which is usually completely alien to Hold ‘em experts, is the concept of memorization. It is key that you remember all of your opponents’ up-cards as they are folded during the hand. This enables you to make a much more accurate calculation of the likelihood of you being dealt one of the cards you need on future streets. For example, let’s say that it’s 5th street and you have 4 spades. If you have seen one spades in your opponents’ folded up-cards, then there are 8 remaining in the deck give you a certain chance of hitting your flush. Now, if you had seen that 5 spades had been folded, you would be 50% less likely to make your flush and should be much more inclined to fold. Good memorization takes nothing but practice and discipline. If you are focused correctly, it will be very difficult to play more than 3-tables of Stud games at one time.
7 Card Stud Starting Hands
Here at PokerWhizKid we preach tight and solid play while learning the games and accordingly, you’ll be playing mostly premium 7 Card Stud starting hands. Players at low limits want to show their hand down and see if they win, so how do we beat this type of player? Show down a better hand than them. How do we achieve that? By playing tightly and only proceeding in hands where we’re going to make a good hand often.
It’s difficult to construct a ‘starting hand chart’ like you might have seen for Hold ‘em, because so much of 7 Card Stud depends on your opponents’ cards as well as your own. Roughly speaking, we would suggest that you enter the pot in the following situations only as you’re learning the game:
- When your lowest card is higher than all of your opponents up-cards. This significantly increases the chance that the pairs you make will be higher than your opponents and also if you are behind you have a good chance to catch up
- When you have 3 cards to a flush
- When you have 3 cards to a straight
- When you have a high pair either wired (your down-cards are paired) or split (your up-card is paired with one of your down-cards)
- You are dealt 3 of a kind
- You are in late position and have an A or K showing and your opponents up cards are poor
Start by sticking quite rigidly to this list and open up your game when you begin to feel comfortable with the situations you find yourself in.
As a 7 Card Stud hand progresses, always be aware that when 5th street comes, your chance of hitting your drawing hand diminishes and the price on future streets goes up, with the introduction of the big bet, so 5th street is something of an inflection point of the hand. You need to have a good plan in place to continue.