Want to know how to play stud poker? While similar to draw poker, the stud card game has a few notable differences. This guide goes through some of the main stud poker rules including 5 card stud rules and 7 card stud rules.
What Is Stud Poker?
Stud poker is one of several variants of poker. It is favoured by many gamblers and is a popular casino game.
The general poker rules still apply. Players compete to win the best five-card combination or ‘hand’. Different hands have different rankings. Some cardrooms may permit wild cards and unique rankings, however often players stick to the traditional ranking system. In this traditional system, the lowest hand that can win is a ‘high card’, while the highest (and rarest) is a ‘royal flush’. Of course, players can play straight or bluff their way to victory, making opponents believe they have a better hand than they actually do by upping the wager and encouraging other less confident players to fold.
What makes stud poker unique from other variants of poker is the way in which the cards are dealt. In draw poker, a player is handed cards face-down that only they can choose to look at. In stud poker, at least one card is face-up for other players to see. Your opponents, therefore, have a greater idea as to what your hand may be. At the same, you can more accurately guess what hands other players may have, allowing you to get a better idea of the odds of winning. Ultimately, you can bet more strategically than you can in draw poker.
Unlike Texas Hold ‘Em, there are usually no community cards in stud poker. Cards are instead individually dealt to each player.
How To Play Stud Poker?
Before any cards are dealt, all players must make an initial minimum bet called an ante to be in the game.
Initial cards are then dealt to each player including at least one face-down card and one face-up card (the amount of initial cards dealt depends on whether you’re playing 5 stud poker or 7 stud poker, both of which are explained in greater detail later on). Each player then decides whether to ‘fold’ (exit the game), ‘check’ (continue playing without raising the stakes) or ‘raise’ (bet more money/chips into the pot, which other players must then bet equal to).
After this first round of betting, providing there are still players remaining, another card is dealt face-up to each player. This is followed by another round of betting. If players still remain, another card is dealt face-up to each player and there is another round of betting. This may then be followed by another face-up card and another round of betting (in 7 stud poker a further round may even be played).
If two or more players continue betting until the final round (the showdown) and no one is willing to fold, all face-down cards are then revealed. The player with the highest-ranking hand then wins.
Stud Poker Structure
Stud poker follows a structure of several rounds, which are often referred to as ‘streets’. The structure typically goes as follows:
- Ante bets: Before any cards are dealt, players place a minimum limit bet in order to be in the game. This is often called the ‘blind’ or ‘ante’.
- The bring-in: The initial draw is made. Each player is dealt their first cards including one face-up card. The player with the lowest face-up card is often required to make a bet called ‘the bring-in’, which other players must match to remain in the game.
- Third street: In 5 stud poker, each player is dealt another face-up card. Players then must ‘check’ or place their bets to stay in. This round is known as ‘third street’.
- Fourth street: A fourth face-up card is dealt to each player. Players must ‘check’ or match any bets made to stay in the game. This round is known as ‘fourth street’.
- Fifth street: A fifth face-up card is dealt to each player. Again, players must ‘check’ or match any bets made to stay in the game. This round is known as ‘fourth street’. In 5 stud poker, it is the final round in which the remaining players must reveal their initial face-down cards before announcing the winner.
- Sixth and Seventh street: In 7 stud poker, a sixth card is played face-up, which is similarly followed by another round of bets. This is known as ‘sixth street’. A final seventh card is then played, but it is face down. Players then make their last bets. Any remaining players then reveal their face-down cards and the winner is chosen.
Different Types of Stud Poker
There are two main types of stud poker – ‘7 cards stud poker’ and ‘5 cards stud poker’. These are detailed below:
5 cards stud poker
5 cards stud poker is the most classic variant, famously played by Steve McQueen in The Cincinnati Kid. Before the dealers hand out any cards, ante bets are played. Each player is then dealt two cards – one is face down and one is face up. The first round of betting is then played. After bets have been equalized, a third card is then dealt face up to each player (third street). There is then another round of betting. Providing players are still betting, a fourth face-up card is then dealt to each player (fourth street) and then a final fifth face-up card (fifth street), in each case followed by a round of betting. Any remaining players that make it to the end must then reveal their initial face-down card and the best hand wins.
7 cards stud poker
7 card stud features more cards and more rounds. Like 5 card stud, it begins with ante bets. Each player is then initially dealt three cards – two face down and one face up. The first round of betting then commences. After this, a fourth card is dealt to each player face-up. There is then another round of betting. If players are still in the game at this point, a fifth face-up card is dealt, then a sixth face-up card and then a seventh final card (this one is face-up). Between each deal is a round of betting. If players make it to the seventh card, the two initial face-down cards are revealed and whoever has the best hand wins.
Some people play stud poker differently, so you may encounter other niche rules regarding things like antes and ‘the bring’ depending on where you play. However, this guide should be enough to help you understand how to play stud poker on a basic level. The best way to learn is to play on a low-stakes table at a physical or online casino. Alternatively, you could try learning by playing with friends.