Seven Card Stud Rules
The road to becoming a great 7 Card Stud player begins with learning the rules. While the following will get you started, you will most certainly want to check out our 7 Card Stud Strategy section to begin learning what it takes to be a winning seven card stud player.
In 7 card stud, each player is required to put in an ante before being dealt cards. The ante is a fraction of a bet, and is completely up to the game organizer. Generally however, antes that are higher than 25% of the small bet at that particular limit are consider very high. Antes are generally 10-20% of the small bet. For example, in a $5/$10 game, antes would most likely range from .50 to $1.00, as the small bet is $5. Setting the antes to an appropriate level is much more important than one would think. If antes are set too low, then players can and should wait all day on great hands, lending itself to a very slow and boring game. On the other hand, if antes are set too high, it becomes correct to play almost any cards, and the game becomes a crap shoot rather than a game of strategy.
After all antes are paid and pushed to the center of the table, everyone is dealt 2 cards face down and one card face up. The player with the lowest face up card must make a forced bet, called the "bring-in" to get the betting action started. If two players have low cards of the same rank, the "suit rank" actually comes into play. Suit rank goes in alphabetical order, clubs, diamonds, hearts and spades, with clubs being the lowest and spades being the highest. The bring-in bet is a predetermined amount, which is generally more than the ante, but much less than the small bet. To use the $5/$10 example again, a good bring-in amount to decide upon would be $2. For higher limit games, such as $10/$20, a good bring-in is $5. In most 7 Card Stud games, the player with the forced bring-in has the option of betting a full small bet as opposed to the predetermined bring-in amount.
The Betting Rounds
Each player to the left of the bring-in bet now has the option of calling, raising or folding. The player to the immediate left of the bring-in acts first and can either call the bring-in or raise it to a complete small bet. Once someone raises to a full small bet, each player in turn must either call the amount of the small bet or fold or re-raise. Once all betting, raising and calling has ended and bets are equal, this first round, also called "3rd street" comes to an end.
Each player is dealt one more card face up and another round of betting begins. This time, the first person to act is decided by who has the highest hand showing face up on their "board." The player with high hand on board has the option of checking or betting. Each player to his left acts in turn. If the player first to act checks, then the second player may check as well. However, once a bet has been made, each player must on his turn to act, call the bet, fold or raise. One variation many games make is that if the first player to act has a pair showing, he or she can make a double bet, ie. in the $5/$10 game, betting $10 instead of the normal $5 that would be bet on fourth street. When all bets are equal, we move to fifth street.
On fifth street, each player is dealt another card face up. As the round before, the player with the highest hand showing on board acts first. It is important to note that betting doubles on fifth street. In the $5/$10 game, previously all bets were $5, but now they must be $10. The high hand on board can check, bet or if he is a total imbecile, fold. Each player acting after him has the same options until the first bet is made, and then players must call, fold or raise. Again, once the betting action has ended, we move to the next round.
Each player is dealt yet another card face up and play moves exactly as it did on fifth street, using double bets and high hand on board acting first.
Also commonly called the river, players are dealt their last card face down! The high hand on board acts first and double bets are used just as they were on 6th street.
Once all betting action has stopped on 7th street, the aggressor, the last person to make a bet or raise on 7th street turns his down cards up for the table to see. If there was betting on the last round, then the high hand on board turns over his cards first.Each player to his left in turn can turn their cards face up if their hand is better, or "muck" their hand face down if they are beaten. If you are new to 7 Card Stud, it is often best to turn your cards up, even if you think you are the loser, as many a winning hand has hit the muck when players did not realize they held a straight or flush. The dealer reads the cards and will determine the winner. The player with the best five card hand using any of the seven cards in his hand wins the pot.