Seven-Card Stud is one of the oldest poker games around, and continues to be the game of choice for home tables around the world.

The game itself is fairly easy to learn. Each player is dealt two face-down "hole" cards and a face-up "door" card. The dealer then deals to each player in turn three more face-up cards, and one more face-down card. The player with the highest five-card hand takes the pot.

There are a few key concepts you should know about for Seven-Card Stud. The first we'll talk about is the antes...


Basic Rules for Seven-Card Stud

Antes: At the beginning of every hand, each player must contribute a small bet called the ante. Antes are used as an incentive for players to play the hand and build the pot.

The Stakes: In the Main Lobby table list you may have noticed a "stakes" column. For each Seven-Card Stud game, the stakes dictate the bet and raise amount for each round of betting. The lower number is used for the first two rounds and the higher number for the last three.

Let's use a $5/$10 stakes example. In the first two rounds of betting, both the bet and the raise must be $5, no more, no less. The last three rounds have a bet/raise amount of $10.

The Cap: In Seven-Card Stud, each round of betting can consist of one bet and has a maximum of three allowable raises, known as the cap. So, if a bet is made, that bet can only be raised three times, after which all players must call or fold.

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Game Action

So you want to play some Seven-Card Stud. You've chosen your stakes and taken a seat at the table. What now?

Ante Up, as all active players must ante. If you want to play, you’ve got to pay.

The Pocket and the Door: Dealer deals each player in turn two face-down cards (the pocket), then a face-up card (the door, or Third Street). After this, the first betting round, beginning with the bring-in...

The Bring-In: The player with the lowest showing door card must post the "bring-in," a mandatory initial bet of usually half the smaller stake amount. The bring-in player has the option to increase this bet to the full small stake.

If two players are showing the same door card, we'll use the suit rankings to decide which card is weakest. The ranks of the suits are (strongest to weakest): Spades, Hearts, Diamonds, and Clubs.

The bring-in's purpose is much like the ante's: to encourage players to stay in a hand, and build the pot.

To stay in the game, all players must call, raise or fold to the bring-in bet. Betting begins to the bring-in player's left, and continues clockwise. If the bring-in opens with half the low stake, the first raise will "complete" the bring-in, raising it to the lower stake limit. Any raises after that must be the lower stake amount.

So, at our $5/$10 table, if a player brings-in with $2, and you want to raise him, you must raise $3, completing the bring-in. Now, any player that raises after you must raise $5.

Still with us? Great, now let’s move on to Fourth Street.

Fourth Street: After the bring-in bets have all been called, each player is dealt another face-up card, called "Fourth Street." Now, the highest showing hand opens the betting round. If a pair is showing for any hand on Fourth Street, any player has the option of doubling his (her) bet amount, and "raising the stake" for this betting round. Otherwise, Fourth Street bets and raises are limited to the small stake.

So, let's say we're in our $5/$10 game, and your facing cards show a pair. You now have the option of doubling the bet to $10, and if you do, any subsequent raises have to be the upper stake limit of $10. If you choose not to double up, the bet/raise amount stays at $5 for this round.

Fifth Street: Another face-up card is dealt to each player, and high hand opens the betting round. For these last three rounds, the bet amount is now the higher stake ($10 in our $5/$10 game).

Sixth Street: The fourth face-up card is dealt to each player, and high hand opens the betting round. For these last three rounds, the bet amount is now the higher stake ($10 in our $5/$10 game).

Seventh Street (or the River): The final card is dealt to each player face down, making a total of seven cards in each hand. Now the final betting round begins, and as before, the highest showing hand starts the betting. The river bets are still limited to the upper stake. ($10 in our $5/$10 game.)

A special circumstance: At this point, you may be doing some math in your head, and thinking 7 cards x 8 potential players equals 56 cards...more cards than we have in the deck! To solve this issue, if all eight players are still in the game by the river, the dealer will flip a single community card in the middle of the table, which can be used by all eight players to fill their hand.

The Showdown: Now that all the bets have been called, and it's time to pay the winner. The last player to bet or raise during the final betting round (the river) will show their hand first. If all the players checked through (nobody bet) on the river, the player to the left of the dealer will show first. The remaining players' hands will be automatically revealed moving clockwise, unless a hand is weaker than the winning hand shown. In this case, you'll have the option to show, or muck (fold without showing). The best five-card hand takes the pot. For a complete list of hand rankings, please consult the Hand Rankings page.

Buying the Pot: If during a betting round you make a bet and all players fold to you, you've bought the pot. You have the option to show or muck your cards.

The best way to learn to play poker is to actually play it, and you can start practicing your poker skills right now for free in our Online Poker Room.

*All buy-ins are in USD.