Stud Poker Guide

If you have familiarity with poker, you will probably know that there are a number of poker games which come under the Stud umbrella. It is not unusual for many poker games to share similarities with other games and it can be helpful for players to develop skills in one format and then tailor them as per the requirements of the individual games.

Stud poker games see players receiving cards in a mixture of face down and face up and there are a number of betting rounds. Stud poker games are traditionally non-positional poker games, which means that the player who bets first in a round will change from round to round. The criteria for which player bets first is commonly the player that holds the face-up cards that will provide the best hand for the game. The cards that are provided face down are traditionally called hold cards, which spawned the phrase, ace in the hole, an expression implying that a person has something of value that other people are not yet aware of.

3 card stud poker can be traced back to the American Revolutionary War and 5 card stud appeared during the American Civil War but in the online poker era, 7 card stud is the most common stud poker game and has only recently been overtaken by Texas Hold ‘Em as the most popular form of poker.

7 Card Stud

The play in 7 card stud has a betting round at every point and the betting is carried out clockwise, with the player holding the lowest card starting. The vast majority of casinos play the game in this fashion, two cards are placed face down to each player and an additional card is placed face up, which is referred to as third street. Another up card is presented to each player, referred to as fourth street and fifth street follows when another up card is presented. This pattern continues with sixth street representing another up card to the player and the final play before the showdown, seventh street, occurs when a down card is presented to the player.

There are variations on this game, with Mississippi Stud taking away the betting stage between the fourth and fifth streets, which leaves four betting rounds for the game. This variation on 7 card stud also requires the final card to be placed face up to a player. In this sense, the game resembles Texas Hold ‘Em but it remains a seven card stud game. Another variation comes with “Roll Your Own” where four rounds of two cards are dealt face down and every player must “roll” one of these cards to face up. There then follows a round of betting and it should be noted that apart from the first round, cards that are rolled up can come from any round, not just the one that has been dealt.

7 Card Stud Hi/Lo

7 card stud Hi/Lo can go by a number of names so if you have heard of “seven eight”, “stud eight” or even “eight or better”, you will be familiar with 7 card stud Hi/Lo. The game plays out close to standard 7 card stud but the pot is up for grabs between the highest hand and the lowest hand (with ace to five low values). There is a need for an 8-high hand or lower to win low. Betting follows the standard 7 card stud process.  Even though the showdown round takes place, this is more about the name because there is no declaration made for high or low plays. Every player involved at this stage needs to select a separate subset of their 5 cards to play for both high and low. An example would come from a player who holds A-A-8-6-6-4-3 who would be able to play a high hand of A-A-6-6-8 and would be able to play a low hand of 8-6-4-3-A. Alternatively, a player holding K-9-8-7-7-6-5 can play a 9-high straight for the high hand but they would be unable to play the low hand. If there is no low hand, the whole pot goes to the high hand.


Razz has a unique twist on the 7 card stud game in that the aim of the game is to make the lowest five card hand from your seven cards. Straights and flushes do not count as a low against the player and the ace will commonly be played as a low. When playing Razz, the best possible hand to have is 5-4-3-2-A, otherwise known as 5 high or the bicycle or the wheel. If you are playing H.O.R.S.E, Razz is the game for R. Razz is usually played with a limit.

5 Card Stud

5 Card Stud has a deep history and even though it has been usurped by a number of card stud games, notably 7 card stud, it still remains a popular choice around the world. 5 card stud is hugely popular in Finland and can be played with no limit, limit or pot limit variations. The traditional form of 5 card stud sees the game being played with one hole card and four cards facing upwards. This has made it easy for even beginners to consider the strength of each players cards. This means that 5 card stud lacks much of the uncertainty found in other card games. However, this has also led to many of the variations of the 5 card stud game bringing in further elements to add to the game.