Seven-card stud is a stud poker game. Until the recent gain popularity of Texas hold ’em, seven-card stud was one of the most popular poker variations among individuals in the US and in casinos in the country. It is common to play with two to eight players, although the game in eight may require special rules if no player folds. With experienced players who lie often, it is even possible to play nine.
The seven-card stud is the “S” of H.O.R.S.E. and other mixed game formats.
The following explanations assume that you are familiar with the general rules of poker and hand values. No assumption is made on the type of used formatting structure. Casinos typically use small ante and bring-ins, but it is more common to use only small ante in friendly games.
The game takes place in six phases as follows, with rounds of betting between each phase (the word “player” is used below to talk about players who do not lie and who are still in the game).
Each player receives two hole cards (face down) and one exposed (face up) (Third Street)
Each player receives an exposed card (Fourth Street)
Each player receives an exposed card (Fifth Street)
Each player receives an exposed card (Sixth Street)
Each player receives a hole card (Seventh Street)
All players showdown their cards.
The betting rounds are conducted in clockwise order starting with the player with the highest combination of visible cards showing. If it is played with a bring-in, it is paid by the player with the lowest hand and the first betting round begins with the player to his left.
Mississippi Stud is a popular variant that removes betting rounds between the 4th and 5th cards, thus reducing the number of betting rounds to four. The last card is also served face up. This variant looks a bit more like Texas hold ’em, with the same number of betting rounds and the same number of exposed and hole cards.
The players first receive two hole cards (face down) and one exposed card (face up). If it is played with a bring-in, the player who received the lower facing up card pays the bring-in, and the betting continues in order. The bring-in is considered an opening and thus the following player can not check. If two players have the card of lower value, colors can be used to separate the (usually ♠ > ♥ > ♦ > ♣ or ♠ > ♥ > ♣ > ♦). If there is no bring-in, the betting round begins with the player with the highest exposed card, and it can check. In this case the colors are not used to decide between two identical heights and it is the player closest to the dealer who speaks first.
After the first betting round, a second card is dealt to each player face up starting with the player to the left of the dealer (after it burned a card). The second betting round begins with the player with the best hand with his exposed cards. Since there are less than five exposed cards, flushes and straights do not count to determine which player starts the betting round. For this betting round and the next, the player with the cards that make up the best hand acts first, and may check or bet provided that the limit allows it.
The second round is followed by a third exposed card and a round of betting, a fourth card exposed and a round of betting, and finally a closed card, a fifth round of auction and showdown if necessary. The seven-card stud can be summarized in “two closed four exposed one closed”. At showdown, each player chooses the best five-card hand he can get with the seven cards he received.
Note that with the seven cards to eight players (the maximum) plus the four burn cards, a total of 60 cards reached when there are only 52 in a game. In most cases it will not be a problem because many players are lying, but it can happen in some friendly games with small stakes in which some players fold. In these cases, we can limit the number of players to seven. If the cards are in short supply during the course of a hand, the previously burned cards can be reused to complete the deal. If that’s still not enough, instead of serving a seventh card to each player closed in the last round, a single community card will be served in the middle of the table and will be shared by all players who will use it as if it was their seventh closed card. In any case we can not redistribute a player card that folded. Unlike the closed poker where no card is exposed prior to showdown, the Stud players use the information they can get from exposed cards of the other players to make strategic decisions, and therefore a player who sees a card in the hand of a player who is lying knows she will never appear in the hand of another of his opponents.
The following example is that of a game pf four-player, in order: Alice (dealer), Bob, Carol and David.
All players pay the ante 25¢. Alice distributes two hole cards and a card exposed to each player starting with Bob and ending with itself. Bob receives the 4♠, Carole K♦, David 4♦ and Alice 9♣. As they play with a bring-in of $1, David must begin to bet $1 bring-in (his 4♦ is lower in color than the 4♠ of Bob). He could have bet more, but he chose not to pay the bring-in. The bring-in sets the current size of the bet to $1, so Alice can not check. She decides to call. Bob folds, turning his face up card to hide and throwing all his cards. Carole raise to $3. David folds and Alice call.
Alice now distributes a second card exposed to each remaining player: Carole receives J♣ and Alice K♥. Alice both cards form a hand with no pair, K-9 height. Carole has a greater height, K-J, so it is for her to start to bet. She check and Alice did the same, ending the second round of betting.
Another card is dealt to each player facing up: Carole receives 10♦ Alice and the K♣. Alice now has a pair of kings visible and Carole still has no pair, so this is Alice to start betting. She raises $5 and Carole call.
In the next round, Carole receives the 10♦, giving it the exposed cards K-J-10-10. Alice receives 3♠. Alice exposed cards are 9-K-K-3, and the pair of kings is always higher than the pair of 10 of Carole, so Alice always speaks first. She raises $5 and Carole call again.
Each player now receives a final card. It is still Alice to bet since the exposed cards have not changed. She check, Carole bets $10, and Alice call. The last round of betting is complete, there are two players and so they showdown.
Alice shows his cards: 9♥ 5♦ 9♣ K♥ K♣ 3♠ 5♠. The best five card hand they can play is K-K-9-9-5, two pairs kings-nine . Carole showed Q♠ 2♥ K♦ J♣ 10♥ 10♦ A♦. It can play A-K-Q-J-10, an ace-high straight, and thus wins the pot.