Stud Poker

Stud Poker


Stud poker can be traced back as early as the American Revolutionary War, where soldiers used 3 cards to play. Through the years, there have been a few changes to the game, including the use of 5 cards during the Civil War, and now the popular 7 card stud games. There are various stud games that have evolved, sometimes named after the location in which they started.

All they have slightly different rules to play by. This type of poker is different from other poker games because players are given cards that are both face up and face down. Another noticeable difference is that the stud poker game can utilize a different number of cards for each game, whether this is 3, 5 or 7. Though stud poker has dropped in popularity when compared to the very popular Texas Hold’Em, it is still a traditional poker game that is played in many casinos, homes and can be played online.

There are four main types of Stud poker limits:

  • No Limit Stud
  • Pot Limit Stud
  • Fixed Limit Stud
  • Spread Limit Stud

In no limit stud there are no limits for bets; in pot limit players' bets are restricted with the amount in the pot; in fixed limit stud there are specific limits for the bets' amount; and in spread limit stud players can raise bets within a certain range of amount. Variations of Stud poker with four and fewer rounds to place the bets (3, 5-card, for instance) usually play with no limit and pot limit stakes. Stud with more betting rounds usually suites with spread and fixed limit play.

How to play

The players enter into the game with a pre-determined amount to bet. Each player must put in this amount of chips in order to play. Once everyone has placed their chips into the pile, they are given one face down card, and one card that is face up. The first round of betting will go to the player that has the lowest value card showing. If there is a situation in which two players have cards that match in low values, then the closest low-value card player to the left of the dealer will make the first bet.

In the first round, there are three things that each player can do. They can fold, call or raise. Once a player raises the bet during this first round, there are often no further raises until the next hand is dealt.

After the first round, the following rounds will mean dealing the players another card. For those who are playing 3 card stud, the round in which the 3rd card is dealt is the final round. Those playing 5 card stud, the final round will be the one in which the 5th card is dealt, and those playing 7 card stud will have the final round in which the 7th card has been dealt. With each round after the first, players have the option to raise, check, or fold. When the stakes are finally raised, the betting ceases after all other players have either folded or called. The betting can continue if players continue to raise the stakes against one another.

In 7-Card Stud

  • The players are given two cards face down and one face up card in the initial round.
  • In the second, third and fourth rounds, the players are dealt an upcard in each round.
  • A downcard is finally dealt with the players in the fifth and final round.

The dealing of cards in Seven-card Stud can be simply understood as three down and four up cards.

In 5-Card Stud

  • The players are given one downcard and one upcard in the beginning.
  • The second, third and fourth rounds, the players are dealt an upcard in each round.

5-card Stud is similar to the 7-card Stud with only difference that in this game players get one down and four up cards.

In 3-Card Stud

  • The players are dealt all three cards face down against the dealer.
  • The player wagers on the Pair Plus, Ante or both.
  • The Ante wager, also known as the price of the game, is the required wager and player wins the dealer has below than the Queen .
  • In Pair Plus the player wagers if he has, at least, pair or higher hand.

The end of the rounds constitutes the Showdown. This is when all players who have not folded reveal their hands. If there is only one player left, who has not folded, then he automatically wins the pot. However, more than one player present at the end means showing their hands to the table. The player with the highest face value cards is the winner.

There are also other stud games, sometimes named after the location. All they have slightly different rules to play.

  • Six-card stud - Usually played as identical to seven-card stud but the last face-up round is removed.
  • Razz (and London lowball) – Played as ace-to-five low that means to make five lowest cards hand from seven available.
  • Eight-or-better high-low stud - Usually played as seven-card stud with the pot splitted between the highest and the lowest hands in the game.
  • High-low stud - This version splits the pot between the highest and lowest poker hands.
  • Mississippi stud – Played as no limit and pot limit seven-card stud play.
  • Mexican stud – A variation of five-card stud with a stripped deck (some removed cards from the deck) and wild cards (jokers).
  • Caribbean stud - The identical to five-card stud poker game with the elements of standard table game when the player is dealt against the dealer.

Odds and Strategies

Stud poker is a game that requires skill and memory, but a lot of the game is left to chance. Players do not know beforehand what types of cards that they will be getting, thus in many terms it is a game of chance. When playing stud poker, the odds of winning vary depending on which form of stud poker a person is playing.

The chances of the dealer winning in stud poker vary from 30% to 70%, according to most studies. This means that out of 10 hands played, the house (dealer) will win 3 to 7 times.

When taking into consideration the odds of the house winning, a person must also look at how many combinations of hands that a player can get with stud poker. These combinations will vary, according to whether a person is playing 3 card, 5 card or 7 card stud poker. Playing 7 card stud poker means that a person has over 1 million hand combinations that can be dealt.

However, to become a successful player in stud poker it is not necessary to know all possible odds. It would be enough to understand your chances to win in a certain circumstance. For instance,

  • if you start with a three of a kind, the odds to make a flush on the river are 4.5 to 1, and 1.5 to 1 to make a full house or better;
  • if on the turn you have four suited cards the odds to make a flush increase to 1.5 to 1, but only three suited cards give only 8.5 to 1 odds to make a flush;
  • if you start with a pair, the odds to make two pairs to river are 1.4 to 1, and 4.1 to 1 to make three of a kind.


There are many people who successfully play this game thanks to a good strategy. Here are a few strategy tips that many professionals use in order to win.

  1. If you are dealt with low-value cards during the first round or two, simply fold, especially if no one else is folding. Playing the first rounds safely and with caution is the best way to start out.
  2. If you hold two high cards or more, only bet when there are one or two players remaining.
  3. If your cards consist of a King or Ace, play aggressively throughout the hand, as it is hard to beat this combination.
  4. When playing 5 card stud, if your first 3 cards are in the same suit, despite being a low value, keep playing to see if you can finish the suit out. If you cannot, then fold, unless you believe your cards are the highest value at the table.
  5. Watch the betting around you. If people hesitating to bet, there are chances their cards are not very good. If they are aggressive in their betting, then you may want to call, if your cards are high or fold, if they are low.
  6. Make sure that you can bluff, as there are going to be times that your hands are not good. This particular strategy is best used when you have folded on a few hands, indicating to the other players that you only bet when you have a good hand, and your bluff is to make other players believe that you have a strong hand.
  7. Since stud poker shows some face-up cards, you need to have a good memory to remember what other players are receiving. This can help you to calculate the combinations that other players may have.
  8. When playing 7 card stud, it is best to keep on playing even if you are dealt a low hand. It is better to chase the game than to forfeit it, unless the hand is hopeless.


One of the best tips that any player can remember is that they are not going to win all hands, as this is impossible. And even with a good hand, there is always a chance that you can lose to someone playing better that night.

Professionals also give newbies this advice:

  • Avoid betting on face up cards, as this gives your opponents the advantage.
  • Play aggressively from the outset, if you are dealt a pair of aces or kings in the first three hands.
  • The first four cards are very important when it comes to winning in 7-card Stud, so, if your first four cards are high, then play on, but if they are not then it is better to get out.
  • If your complete hand is beating by other player's upcards, it is better to fold.
  • Once in a several games get caught during the bluff - it helps you to be unpredictable and varies your game's strategy.
  • Beware of several "check" rounds in 7-card Stud if you have Straight or Flush draw; it very often can be hit on the last round.
  • Try to fold if you have a small pair unless they are down cards.


Fold - Throw in all of your cards, and you will no longer play in this hand. This is often done when your cards are not promising enough to win.
Call - You will put in enough chips to meet the bet of the person who raised before you. You must call on bets that have been raised, otherwise, you cannot play.
Raise - This is when you add more money to the pot by raising the bet. This is often done when the player believes that he or she has the winning hand.
Check - This simply means that you are not raising your bet or folding, you will stay in the game as is.
Catch - Receiving a card from the dealer that greatly improves your hand.
Heads-up - Playing against only one other player.
Split Pair - The starting combination is a pair with one up and one down card.
Concealed Pair - The starting combination with both pair cards in the hole and a side kicker card.
Door Card - The displayed up card in the start of the game.
Dead Cards - Displayed cards that are not in the deck anymore.


Stud poker is still an interesting form of poker that players can play. It requires attention to details, good memory and the ability to fold when the hand is no good. Stud poker is a game which is best learned when playing with the friends for low stakes, until the player gets the hang of how this works.


Is it possible to win a stud poker game even if the first hand is low?

Those players who have been playing for a while, often fold if their first hand is low value and meaningless. However, other players have found success in playing this hand if they keep with it. Usually, by the fourth card, when playing 5 card stud, you will know whether the hand is going to be one that could even compete against other players.

How many players must be present for a stud poker game?

This depends on the table rules. However, the game can take place with a dealer and two players. The more players there are though, the more fun that it can be.

How many variants of 7-card Stud are there?

There are many variants of 7-card studs. The most common among them include Razz, Follow the Queen, Chicago and Baseball.

Can I change the cards in 3-card Stud?

No, the 3 cards that are dealt in 3-card Stud are the only cards that you get and they cannot be changed.

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