What used to be regarded as the big Stud, isn't so studly any more. Now known as the second most popular game, Stud falls behind the hugely widespread Hold'em. Five years ago it used to be very easy to find a Stud game anywhere, but now you'd be lucky to locate a regular game at any of the poker rooms in town. Ask any poker player, professional or not, what their preferred game of choice is and nine times out of ten it's Texas Hold'em. Ask them about Stud and players think you're referring to them.
So why the loss of interest in Stud? In this day and age of A.D.D. (attention deficit disorder) perhaps it's because Stud doesn't provide that instant gratification that Hold'em can. Stud is a slow-building, predictable game, whereas Texas Hold'em is fast-paced and incites an "anything can happen" type of energy. A head-to-head game of Hold'em is racked with tension, high pressure and drama. Head-to-head Stud? Um, it would be a good learning experience, and like most learning experiences it could be interesting, but void of any real intensity.
After all, the Main Event of the WSOP isn't a Seven-Card Stud game, it's Texas Hold'em. Even in the media room you overhear reporters talking about how they look forward to a slow work day because who wants to cover a boring Stud game?
Boring? I don't think so. Different? Yes. Here are some elements that distinguish the two games and may shed some light as to why the Stud always takes a back seat to the Texan.
Position: In Hold'em, your position in the betting process is crucial to how you play. But in Stud, your position is sporadic, continually changing depending on who gets dealt the lowest card at the opening of a hand.
Cards: In Hold'em you really only have the community cards to worry about, but then you have to use tells, betting strategies and position to determine your opponent's hand. In Stud, each player gets their own hand involving four cards face-up that you have to remember in order to decide what action to take. And if a player folds, you need to remember what they had as well.
Reading: Hold'em players rely more on reading people. Stud players rely more on reading cards.
In the end, Texas Hold'em is all about luck and guts while Stud requires more skill and card memorization. In Texas Hold'em you can grow hair on your chest by playing No-Limit. Have you ever heard of No-Limit Stud (besides in the bedroom)? I didn't think so. In Texas Hold'em the stakes are high with all-in play. Going all-in in a Stud game? Probably not gonna happen.
Hold'em is definitely for the player who likes the thrill of the chase, the risky gamble, the big kill and the people watching. Stud is for the player who likes to grind it out and take his time building his chip stack. Stud players don't need to take out an opponent in one fell swoop. They'll do it at their own pace. And if you love the forgotten game, that's just fine.