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Seven Card Stud

INTRODUCTION

The first literary record of a poker game played with seven cards is in Hoyle’s Games in 1867, but it is likely that soldiers played it earlier during the American Civil War (1861-1865). Seven-Card Stud evolved from Five-Card Stud, which was an easy game to cheat at. To increase the complexity of the game, an extra face-down hole card is dealt at the beginning and end of the hand. Up to twenty years after it was invented, Seven-Card Stud was referred to as ‘Five-Card Stud with two extra cards.’

This Stud variant has always been more popular in the UK than Five-Card Stud, and is proving to be the same in North America. The extra hidden hole cards allow for stronger hands and more intense betting. (Five rounds of betting makes for a huge pot.) It also attracts more skilled players, so do make sure to get lots of practice in before playing people better than you.

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HOW TO PLAY THE GAME

Seven-Card Stud doesn’t use community cards like they do in Texas Hold ‘em. Instead, players are dealt three cards face-down and four face-up for a total of seven cards from which they make their best five-card hand.

There are several variations to Seven-Card Stud:

  1. High The highest hand wins the pot. This is generally referred to as Seven-Card Stud.
  2. Low Also known as ‘Razz.’ Lowest hand wins the pot.
  3. High-Low Pot is split between the highest- and lowest-ranking hand, or a player can go for both the highest and lowest hand and win the entire pot.

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4.   Mississippi Seven-Card Stud Same as regular Seven-Card Stud except that two cards are face-down instead of only one and the fourth and fifth cards are dealt at the same time.

First Betting Round: Third Street The Bring-in and Ante

Seven-Card Stud can be played with or without an ante. (Some literature claims antes are mandatory in Stud games, while others say it is the decision of the players.) If playing with an ante, players must ante in before the shuffle. It’s usually a fraction of a full bet.

The dealer shuffles and cuts the deck and deals each player two cards face-down (hole card) and one face-up (door card).

The player with the lowest door card opens the betting by placing the first bet, or the ‘bring-in.’ (In limit-betting games, the lowest-ranking person bets first; in high-betting games, the highest-ranked hand bets first.)

The bring-in is a forced bet and they can not check or fold. If two or more players are tied for the lowest-ranking card, the player closest to the left of the dealer bets first.

Play moves clockwise and players can now fold, call or raise in turn. (The proper way to fold is to turn the door card over and place it face-down on the hole cards. If agreed-to before play, players who forget to turn their card over have to give the pot a few chips.) This round is called ‘Third Street.’ The rest of the rounds are named after how many cards you have in your hand.

Second Betting Round: Fourth Street

After the first round of betting is complete, the dealer gives every active player another card face-up, followed by a round of betting (Fourth Street). For this and subsequent betting intervals, the player with the highest door cards bets first. If two or more players are tied for highest hand, the player closest to the left of the dealer bets first.

The amount you bet in this and subsequent rounds must be a full bet.

Third Betting Round: Fifth Street

The dealer then gives every active player a fifth card face-up, followed by a round of betting (Fifth Street).

Betting values usually double on the Fifth Street (unless somebody holds a pair from Fourth Street).

Fourth Betting Round: Sixth Street

Then a sixth card is dealt face-up, followed by a round of betting (Sixth Street).

Fifth and Final Betting Round: Seventh Street and the River

The seventh and final card is dealt face down, or ‘down and dirty.’ The first person to bet is the same player who bet first in the last round. Once the final round of betting is over (Seventh Street, or ‘the River’), the remaining players with a claim to the pot turn over their hole cards during the showdown and the player with the strongest hand wins. Players use five of their seven cards to make their best hand.

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THE STAKES AND LIMITS

Seven-Card Stud is often played with limits to bets and raises. Usually, betting is restricted to the lower-tiered limit on the Third and Fourth Streets (for example, $2 in a $2-$4 game). However, if a pair shows up in someone’s two face-up door cards on the Fourth Street, players can bet and raise the higher-tiered limit (for example, $4 in a $2-$4 game), and they must do so for the rest of the betting interval. This is an option available to the players; they are not obliged to bet the higher amount should pairs appear in someone’s door cards.

The higher limit is also in place on the Fifth and Sixth Streets and the River (the last three rounds of betting).

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VARIANTS

SEVEN-CARD STUD HIGH/LOW SPLIT
MISSISSIPPI SEVEN-CARD STUD (ALSO CALLED ‘BIG RIVER STUD’)
RAZZ (SEVEN-CARD STUD LOW)
SEVEN-CARD STUD RULES (SEVEN-CARD STUD HIGH)

These rules apply in addition to general poker rules, so be sure to read that section as well.

1. The player with the lowest face-up door card by suit starts the betting (sometimes it is the highest-ranking card check before you play) with a forced bet. For the rest of the betting rounds, the highest-ranking hand on the board bets first. If two or more players tie for strongest hand, the player closest to the dealer’s left bets first.

2. The player who starts the betting with the forced bet can opt to open with a full bet.

3. If the opening bet was less than the lower-limit amount (for example, $5 in a $15-30 game), another player can increase the bet to $15 and not have it count as a raise since they are completing the bet.

4. If a player is dealt a visible pair during the Fourth Street when their second face-up card is dealt, in Fixed-Limit games, all players have the option to bet either the lower or higher limit. For example, in a $2-$4 game, players can bet either $2 or $4. If a $4 raise is made, then all subsequent raises must be in $4 increments.

If a player with a pair showing in their door cards on Fourth Street checks, then all other players thereafter may choose to do the same.

5. If the dealer accidentally deals a players’ first or second hole card face-up, their third card is dealt face-down. If both hole cards are dealt face-up, a dead hand occurs and the player gets their ante back. If the first card dealt accidentally face-up was the lowest on the table, the player to the left has to place the forced bet. They have the option to fold, bet the forced bet (smaller amount) or bet the full lower-tiered limit. If a hole card is dealt face-up in a tournament, a misdeal occurs and all the cards must be re-dealt.

6. If a player is absent from the table when it is their turn to act, they lose their ante and forced bet and their hand is killed.

7. If there is no wager and a hand is folded, that seat will receive cards until a bet kills the hand.

8. If a player has put all of their chips in for the ante (said to be ‘all in’) and on the first round they have the low card, since they are the forced bet and have nothing left to bet with, the player to their left bets first. They can fold, bet the forced bet rate, or bet the full amount of the lower-tiered limit (full bet for this betting round ($2 in a $2-$4 game)).  

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9. If a player is incorrectly identified as having the lowest-ranking card and they bet, the play is corrected to the actual lowest-ranking card if the next player has not acted yet. The incorrect lowest-ranking card player gets their wager back and the correct player bets instead. If the next player has acted after the incorrectly-made bet, their money stays in the pot and play continues as normal. The true lowest-ranking card player has no more responsibility for the forced bet.

10. If a player picks up their face-up door cards and does not call when facing a wager, their hand is dead as this is a fold. This isn’t important during the showdown because betting has ceased until discarded, the hand is still in play.

11. A card that is accidentally dealt off the table is still played and is played like an exposed card.

12. The dealer declares in every game the visible low card, the high hand, all raises and all pairs. The dealer does not declare straights or flushes, except for certain low-stakes games.

13. If the dealer forgets to burn a card or burns two for one round, if possible, the cards are put back into their original positions. If this occurs on the River (the final card, which is supposed to be face-down), and either a player has seen the card or it mixes with a player’s other hole cards, the player has to take the card.

14. If a betting interval has not yet been completed and the dealer burns and deals one or more cards, those card(s) have to be removed from play. Once the betting is finished for that round, an extra card for each active player in the hand is also removed from play (to deal the same cards later to the players who would have been dealt them had there not been a mistake). Once that betting interval is finished, the dealer burns a card and play continues. The cards that have been removed are kept off to the side in case the dealer runs out of cards. If the erroneously-dealt card is the last hole card (face-down) and has been seen or mixed with the player’s other hole cards, the player has to take the card and on the third round of betting (Sixth Street), they can not bet or raise (because they already have all seven of their cards).

15. If the dealer runs out of cards for everyone, all of the cards are dealt except for the last one, which is combined with the burn cards and any cards that may have been removed from play. The cards are shuffled, cut and the top card burned. They are then dealt as the outstanding down cards (the last card is used, if needed). If there are not enough cards for everyone, the dealer does not burn so all players receive a new card. If there are still not enough cards for all active players, the dealer tells the table that they will use a common card. The dealer burns a card and flips a card face-up on the board as a community card everyone can use to make their hand. The player with the highest-ranking hand incorporating the common card starts the betting for the final round.

16. If a player has bet all of their chips (said to be ‘all-in’) and is dealt a hole card face-up during the last round (the River), they have to play that card as is and the remaining players are dealt their cards as normal.

17. If the dealer flips the final card face-up to any player, the highest-ranking hand on the table using all of the door cards (face-up) starts the betting. These rules are applicable to card dealing:

     (a) If there are two or more players, all active players are dealt their final card face-down. A player whose final card is dealt face-up may choose to announce all-in if betting has not yet started.

     (b) If there are two or more active players and the first player’s last hole card is dealt face-up, the second player’s last hole card is also dealt face-up and action continues as usual. If the first player’s last card is dealt face-down and the second player’s last card is dealt face-up, the player whose card is face-up has the right to declare an all-in if they want (if betting has not yet started).

18. A hand is declared dead if it has more than seven cards. A hand short of seven cards at the showdown is also declared dead. However, any player without a seventh card can get permission to play the hand (to be ruled live).

19. A player who calls a bet at a time when there is another player with a stronger face-up hand is not allowed to have a refund. They are obtaining information about the other player’s hand that is not for free.

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