How to Play 7 Card Stud – Rules and Odds

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Our guide to 7 Card Stud rules will not only give you all the information you need to play this game – whether online, in a casino or with friends – but also some handy 7 Card Stud strategies to help you become a winning player. This 7 Card Stud guide will also take a look at some fun twists on the game, including Razz and 7 Card Stud Hi Lo, as well as how to play 7 Card Stud poker if you’re already a Texas Hold’em player.

A Quick Guide to Poker Hands

Not too long ago, when 7 Card Stud was the most popular poker game in the world. Across the globe, both in casino poker rooms and around the kitchen table in home games, 7 Card Stud was the variant you’d expect to find people playing. It was only towards the end of the 20th century that Texas Hold’em began to overtake it as the game most players knew and played, but there’s still plenty to love about this classic poker game.

Like most poker games, 7 Card Stud uses the classic hierarchy of poker hands to determine ‘what beats what’. If you know how to play poker you’ll probably be familiar with this list, which ranks the various poker hands you can make, from the best to the worst.

Note that, even though the game is called 7 Card Stud, you’ll still be trying to make the best 5-card hand (similar to how Texas Hold’em gives you 7 cards from which to make a 5-card poker hand).

7 Card Stud Hands Ranking

Poker Hand Example
Royal Flush Ts-Js-Qs-Ks-As
Straight Flush 8h-9h-Th-Jh-Qh
Four-of-a-Kind 5-5-5-5-X*
Full House 6-6-6-2-2
Flush 2d-6d-7d-Jd-Ad
Straight 3-4-5-6-7
Three-of-a-Kind A-A-A-X-X
Two Pair K-K-9-9-X
One Pair 8-8-X-X-X
High Card 2-6-9-Q-A

* = any unrelated card

The relative strength of each hand is directly proportionate to how likely you are to make it. For example, you are more likely to make a Straight than you are to make a Flush, so a Straight loses to a Flush. You can find out more about Seven Card Stud odds, and how likely you are to make each possible hand, in the ‘Poker Hand Odds’ section below. You may also find our poker cheat sheets useful.

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Rules and How to Play 7 Card Stud Poker

A common theme to Stud poker games is that each player has their own cards that only they may use, and some of these are face-up. In 7 Card Stud rules, each player who stays in the hand to showdown will end up with three ‘down’ cards (i.e. face-down) and four ‘up’ cards which everyone can see. Each player uses these 7 cards to make their strongest hand.

Due to the large number of cards dealt to each player, 7 Card Stud games generally do not cater for more than 7-8 players.

Unlike games like Pot-Limit Omaha or No-Limit Texas Hold’em, 7 Card Stud is almost always played as a Limit game. This means all bets and raises are in pre-determined units. At a $5-$10 7 Card Stud table, for example, all bets up until fourth street (see below) will be in units of $5, with bets after that in units of $10. This is an important distinction that would impact your 7 card Stud strategies.

For this 7 Card Stud tutorial, let’s walk through how 7 Card Stud hands are dealt.

How to Deal 7 Card Stud

  1. Each player posts an ante, which is usually around 10-20% of a small bet (eg, in a $5-$10 7 Card Stud game, the ante might be $0.50 to $1).
  2. Every player receives two ‘hole cards’, face-down, as well as one face-up ‘door’ card.
  3. The player with the lowest door card must post a ‘bring-in’ bet to start the first betting round. This can be either half a small bet (e.g. $2.50 in a $5-$10 game) or a full small bet. Other players can then call the bet, raise by one small bet, or fold. Note that a maximum of three raises can be made in each betting round.
  4. Players still in the hand each receives another face-up card (‘fourth street’). This time, the player with the highest cards showing starts the action in the betting round, using small bet units (they may check rather than bet, if they wish). If a player is showing a pair on fourth street, they may choose to bet in big bet units, e.g. $10 in a $5-$10 game.
  5. Remaining players receive a further face-up card (‘fifth street’), followed by a betting round which starts once again with the player showing the strongest hand. From here on, all bets are in big bet units.
  6. A final face-up card (‘sixth street’) is dealt to those players still in the hand, followed by another betting round led by the strongest face-up hand.
  7. A last card (‘seventh street’ or ‘the river’) is dealt face-down to all remaining players. The final betting round takes place.
  8. A showdown takes place, with each player discarding two cards to make their strongest five-card poker hand. The best hand wins the pot.

Poker Hand Odds

In 7 Card Stud poker, it’s important to watch the cards other players are being dealt, as it will help you figure out your odds to improve. But what are your basic odds of being dealt each poker hand?

First, let’s look at the odds of being dealt every poker hand in five cards:

Poker Hand Approx. Odds / Probability
Royal Flush 649,739 to 1
Straight Flush 72,192 to 1
Four-of-a-Kind 4,165 to 1
Full House 694 to 1
Flush 509 to 1
Straight 255 to 1
Three-of-a-Kind 46 to 1
Two Pair 20 to 1
One Pair 1.4 to 1
High Card 0.99 to 1

As you can see, the higher the probability of making a hand, the worse the hand is.

Let’s compare those numbers with the odds of being dealt each of the poker hands in seven cards:

Poker Hand Approx. Odds / Probability
Royal Flush 30,940 to 1
Straight Flush 3,590 to 1
Four-of-a-Kind 594 to 1
Full House 37.5 to 1
Flush 32 to 1
Straight 21 to 1
Three-of-a-Kind 20 to 1
Two Pair 3.2 to 1
One Pair 1.3 to 1
High Card 4.7 to 1

As you can see, the odds of making good hands are far better when you introduce more cards. In fact, with seven cards in play you are more likely to make a hand like one or two pair than you are to make a hand with nothing but a high card.

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How to Play 7 Card Stud Poker Online

Now that you know the essential Seven Card Stud rules, it’s time to put your knowledge into action. You’ll find the game spread at many brick-and-mortar casinos, but online poker is so convenient that it’s always worth checking out the best online poker sites where you live.

1. Find a place to play

As ever, our recommended offshore poker casinos are the best place to start, so be sure to read our expert reviews for the latest deals and recommendations for new players.

2. Register and/or download

Hit the button to sign up. You may need to download the gaming software for your computer, or an app for your mobile devices.

EveryGame poker signup page.

3. Create your new account

Choose your user ID and avatar, and provide proof of ID/address if you want to make a deposit and play for real money.

Everygame new account registration.

4. Choose your cash game or tournament

7 Card Stud rules are the same whether you’re playing a cash game or a tournament, but each has its own structure and will be found in different parts of the software. If you’re just getting started, we recommend choosing a low-stakes cash game to try it out.

5. Enjoy the game

Once seated at an online table, the interface is much like any other online poker game. However, be aware that in Limit poker games like 7 Card Stud, there will be no bet-slider you can use to size your bets. This is because all bets will be in pre-defined units (‘small’ and ‘big’ bets). The size of these bets will be clearly marked – either in the name of the table (in the case of cash games) or in the table info section if playing a tournament.

One more top tip: the best online poker rooms that spread 7 Card Stud will often spread varieties of the game like 7 Card Stud Hi Lo or Razz (see the ‘Variations’ section below). Always make sure you join the right table and know the rules of the variant you are playing.

Tips and Strategy

Now you know how to play 7 Card Stud, it’s time to think about poker strategy. With so many cards dealt face-up, there is a lot of information available to players who are switched-on enough to take notice. Keeping track of other players’ cards is a key skill in 7 Card Stud poker strategy, for a couple of reasons:

  • If you’re drawing to a hand, you can see how many of your ‘outs’ are already gone, as they’ve appeared in other players’ hands.
  • You might have a good hand, but there may be a hand showing that’s beating you (and may still beat you, even if you improve).

This information is available to all players at the table, but once a player folds their cards, they are mucked and no longer visible. Being able to remember which cards have been mucked can give you an edge over players who aren’t paying attention.

As with Texas Hold’em, it’s good to know the difference between good and bad starting hands, and just like Hold’em, a pair is a great foundation on which to start the hand – and three-of-a-kind is even better.

When your two hole cards match your door card, it’s called being ‘rolled-up’ (eg “I started with rolled-up Queens”), and there’s no stronger starting hand in 7 Card Stud. Big pairs (A-A, K-K, Q-Q, J-J), big suited connectors (eg Td-Jd-Qd) and medium pairs (8-8, 9-9, T-T) are what you should look for next.

Another key thing to remember in 7 Card Stud rules, and a point of difference from ‘big bet’ games like Hold’em and Omaha is that,  7 Card Stud is almost always played as a limit game. This can impact your game in two ways:

  • It means a hand won’t necessarily be as costly as a no-limit or pot-limit hand if you lose it. A huge river shove in No-Limit Hold’em can see a small pot become very large, and force you into making a decision for your entire stack. With bets of limited size, this can’t happen in 7 Card Stud.
  • As a result, success and failure are often measured in the number of individual bets you win, or save. This makes it important to play a solid game and not make small mistakes that will cost you multiple bets over time.

How to play 7 Card Stud – Know your suits

One final, small yet interesting tip when it comes to 7 Card Stud rules concerns suits. The suit of a card carries no importance whatsoever in Hold’em, Omaha and most other poker games. However, in 7 Card Stud the ranking of suits does have a bearing when more than one player is showing the same low door card. Two players can’t both make the ‘bring in’ bet, so how do we decide which one should make the bet? It comes down to suits, with the lower-ranking suit being forced to bring it in.

For the purposes of breaking ties in this way, the ranking of suits is, from lowest to highest: clubs, diamonds, hearts and spades.

Seven Card Stud Variations

7 Card Stud is a great game to add to your repertoire, but it also comes in a few other variations which can be just as much fun to play.

7 Card Stud Hi Lo (or 7 Card Stud Eight-or-Better)

In this split-pot variant, the pot is divided in two with half awarded to the strongest hand and half given to the lowest hand. The low hand must contain five cards with no pairs and no cards higher than an eight (hence the ‘Eight-or-Better’ in the game’s alternative name). Flushes and Straights do not disqualify a low hand, so the best possible low is A-2-3-4-5. It’s even possible to win both high and low halves of the pot. If no player has made a qualifying low hand, the entire pot is won by the high hand.

Razz

Razz is the name for 7 Card Stud played for low only. There is no eight-or-better qualifier needed, so the winning hand is simply the worst five-card hand, although as with Hi Lo you’ll find that Straights and Flushes do not count against you. With a single objective – make a lower hand than your opponents – Razz can be a highly mathematical game where an understanding of odds (and a keen eye and memory for your opponents’ mucked cards) will serve you well.

HORSE

Ever wondered what HORSE means in poker? It’s an acronym for a set of limit poker games that are played in rotation:

H = Hold’em
O = Omaha
R = Razz
S = Seven Card Stud
E = Seven Card Stud Eight-or-Better

Each game is played for at least one full orbit of the table before the next game is played.

It’s not uncommon to also find games of HOSE, which remove Razz from the line-up. These mixed games are a great way to stay sharp and involved over long gameplay sessions.

Cash Games vs Tournaments

As with all forms of poker, 7 Card Stud is available in both cash game and tournament formats.

7 Card Stud Cash Games

The key feature of a poker cash game is that you can join whenever you want, play as much or as little as you wish, and leave when you choose. The stakes don’t change, just the players. Cash games are perfect when you want to play a little poker but don’t want to make a big time commitment.

7 Card Stud Tournaments

In a poker tournament, each player buys in for a set amount and receives tournament chips which cannot be cashed out. Instead, everyone plays until there is only one player remaining, who is the tournament winner. Stakes increase at set intervals to ensure players are eliminated, and the final 15-20% of players receive cash prizes. HORSE, HOSE and other mixed games are also played as tournaments.

7 Card Stud vs Texas Hold’em

Texas Hold’em is the world’s most popular and widely played poker game. In it, players receive two hole cards and share five community cards to make the best five-card poker hand (read more about the rules of Texas Hold’em).

But did you know that Texas Hold’em is actually a twist on 7 Card Stud poker? The main difference in Hold’em, of course, is that all the cards from 3rd street to the river that would be dealt to each individual player, are instead dealt to the board to be shared.

Having no shared board cards is the biggest difference between Hold’em and 7 Card Stud. The result is that, while in Hold’em it’s very easy to see what is possible, and what hand is ‘the nuts’, this is much trickier in 7 Card Stud. Without a shared board of community cards, it’s vital to keep track of what your opponents are showing.

7 Card Stud is a game with more information available, as you get to see everyone’s upcards, to gain an edge, it’s important to keep an eye on their hands and remember the cards that have been mucked.

The other chief difference is the limit structure. While Limit Texas Hold’em is still played occasionally, it is nowhere near as popular as the No-Limit variety. 7 Card Stud’s limit nature means it can be easy to make a big stack last longer than in a no-limit game, but it can. be hard to win consistently without expending a lot of concentration: your profits and losses are going to come in the long term, and not from one huge hand or decision that defines your session.

How to Play 7 Card Stud at a Casino

7 Card Stud is a game you will find at land-based casinos, but just as with online live casinos, you may have to look a little harder to find a variant beyond Texas Hold’em.

Once you do find a game, buying in and playing is just as you would find in a Hold’em game. The casino poker room may have a cashier/cage where you purchase chips to play in cash games (and cash them out at the end), or you may be able to buy in to a cash game directly at the table. Any cash game table will have the limits and the game variant clearly marked, so make sure you know just what you’re playing, and how much for, before you sit down.

A 7 Card Stud tournament will operate just like a Hold’em tournament, with chips available at the cashier, assigned tables/seats, and a tournament clock showing information like levels, payouts and eliminations.

In a mixed game, whether it’s a cash game or a tournament, you’ll be able to see the game currently being played on a marker by the dealer. These are called ‘lammers’, and will be changed by the dealer every time the game changes so you always know what game is being dealt.

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Resources

Adam Hampton
Poker Expert
Adam Hampton
Poker Expert

Adam has been writing about poker and gaming for more than a decade, and playing for much longer than that. Based in London, UK, his work for brands such as PokerStars, Full Tilt Poker, CardsChat, CardPlayer Lifestyle and more has taken him across the world, but his favorite spot is always 'on the button'.