Editors' Picks - Best Stud Poker Sites
Until a few years ago, 7 Card Stud poker was the most popular poker game in the world. That of course all changed in 2003 when Chris Moneymaker won the World Series of Poker Main Event and the worldwide Texas Hold'em boom began in earnest.
While Hold'em is now the game of choice for 95% of casual poker players, there's still a very committed group out there who prefer to play stud poker, both live and online.
Considered a "purer" game by traditionalists, seven card stud poker does have one big advantage over Hold'em for rookies: It's easier to see what kind of hand your opponent has or is drawing to.
Check our editors' toplist below for the best sites to play Stud poker online. Click on the review link for more info about the site or sign up directly to be eligible for the exclusive bonus.
Below the top list you can find an overview of Stud, and the unique set of rules used for Stud Hi-Lo. It also includes some basic strategy and quick tips for beginners.
About Stud Poker
Seven Card Stud: The Basics
The rules for Seven-Card Stud are simple. Each player is dealt two cards face down and one card face up. The player with the lowest ranked card (in Pot-Limit this is the player with the highest card) starts the first betting round.
This is called the bring-in. He can choose to either make a full bet or a smaller, often half-sized, bet. Then every player, clockwise, gets to act and can either fold, call or raise.
When each player has had the chance to act, another card is dealt face up to each remaining player in the pot. Another betting round commences, and so on. Then another card is dealt face up and a new betting round takes place.
The seventh and final card is dealt face down and the last betting round is initiated. In the end, every player still in the pot should have three cards face down and four cards face up.
When all the betting is done, there's a showdown and the player with the best five-card poker hand wins the pot, just as in Texas Hold'em. (See full Seven Card Stud rules.)
Seven Card Stud Hi-Lo
Seven-Card Stud Hi-Lo, also called Seven-Card Stud Eight-or-Better (Seven-Card Stud 8/B), is an intricate game that has been growing in popularity in recent years - especially since it was part of the much talked about $50,000 buy-in H.O.R.S.E. event in the 2006 World Series of Poker.
Seven-Card Stud Hi-Lo may sound complicated, but it's actually quite easy to get the hang of. The main difference between high only games and hi-lo games is that in the latter half the pot goes to the lowest hand.
A low hand may contain a straight or a flush but no pairs, and the highest card allowed in the low part of the hand is, as the name suggests, an eight. But don't forget that the other half of the pot goes the highest hand.
Scooping the pot is when the same player wins both the low and the high portion. One of the best possible hi-lo hands is the small ace-to-five straight flush.
A complete guide to the rules of Stud and Stud Hi-Lo can be found in our Poker Rules section.
Basic Seven Card Stud Strategy
Basically everything you need to know about seven card stud starting hands you can learn from one scene in the famous poker movie Rounders.
Out of the mouth of Matt Damon, otherwise known as Mike McD.:
"You only play premium hands. You only start with jacks or better split, nines or better wired, three high cards to a flush. If it's good enough to call, you got to be in there raising, all right?"
Jacks or better split: A split pair means one of the two jacks is your up card and the second is one of your two hole cards.
Nines or better wired: A wired pair or nines means your two hole cards are both nines.
Three cards to a flush: All three of your starting cards are of the same suit.
Players new to the game seem to get overwhelmed with all the cards they get and all the draws they can find with them. Until you've got a few thousand hands under your belt, it's best to stick close to the Rounders advice.
Three Major Mistakes Hold'em Players Make in Seven Card Stud
- Seeing Fourth Street Way Too Often
- Continuing to Fifth Street With a Drawing Hand
- Not Noting Opponents' Face-Up Cards
In Hold'em, it's often worth it to see a flop even with a fairly mediocre hand - that is, if you can do it cheaply enough. After the flop in Hold'em, you've already seen five out of seven cards, or roughly 70% of the total hand.
In other words, for a small sum you get to see a large portion of your hand and you have a good chance of defining your chance to win.
Not so in Seven Card Stud, where you pay for an extra card (fourth street) and still only see less than 60% of the total hand. In Stud you can judge whether the hand is worth playing right from the start, and subsequently you should let it go a lot earlier.
The second biggest mistake Hold'em players make in Stud poker is continuing on to fifth street with a drawing hand after missing the card needed on fourth street.
Say you started with three clubs and got a spade on fourth street. Unless you made a pair or got a straight draw, you shouldn't continue with the hand.
The last big mistake is failing to keep an eye on opponents' "up" cards. The majority of the cards on the table will be face up in Stud.
You should be able to look at all the up cards (and there could be upward of 20 of them) and know how they affect your hand, your draws and what possibilities they create for the other players.Sometimes it's simple. If a player is showing a pair of aces and all you have is a pair of kings, you know you're beat. The rest of the time you're going to have to use your reads and logic.
This is something you will be able to do better and better as you gain more experience.
Quick Tips for Seven-Card Stud Online
Although most poker rooms offer 7 Card Stud, both in Fixed-Limit and Pot-Limit, you should check to see if there really are games going since some rooms almost only have traffic in Texas Hold'em.
Also, if you're new to the game, look for rooms that offer Seven-Card Stud with low betting limits so you can start at a comfortable level. The toplist above is a good place to start.
Seven-Card Stud Hi-Lo can also be found in many poker rooms, both as Fixed- and Pot-Limit. One suggestion might be to look for rooms offering Seven-Card Stud Eight-or-Better Pot-Limit games, since many players are way too liberal with their starting hand requirements in Pot-Limit.
Although there are some good Seven-Card Stud players online, the majority are Hold'em players just dabbling in Stud, so there is definitely some money to be made.
A last piece of advice: When you look online for a good Seven-Card Stud game, try to find games that are loose – meaning lots of bets and players in the pot in pre- and post-flop. Typically a good sign that the players don't know what they're doing.