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For beginners Seven Card Stud can take some getting used to but the good news is you can learn everything you need to know to get started right now in under three minutes.
The first thing you should know is that Seven Stud is a slow game compared to No-Limit Hold'em. Hands take on average twice as much time and it's usually played with fixed betting limits. That said, Stud is a game where good players can get a big edge and it also favors people with good memories and observation skills.
Let's start with the basics. The game revolves around a dealer button that's used to determine the betting order. But, unlike Hold'em, there are no blinds. Everyone has to pay an ante before the cards are dealt and then the dealer gives everyone two cards face down and one card face up, starting with the player to the left of the dealer.
The face-up card is called the door card and whoever has the highest door card is forced to start the betting. This is called third street. They have two options. They can either pay a “Bring In” which is usually equal to the ante, or they can “Complete” by paying five times the ante.
Betting continues clock-wise around the table and everyone still in gets a fourth card face up, called fourth street. Now the betting starts with the player with the best two-card hand showing. This pattern continues for fifth and sixth streets and on the final betting round everyone gets their seventh card face down.
After the final betting round everyone still in makes the best possible five-card poker hand from their seven cards. The player with the best hand wins the pot.
How to Play Seven-Card Stud Poker
Seven-Card Stud is a great game and even though it looks confusing, the rules are pretty simple.
Just like Texas Hold'em, Seven-Stud uses a dealer button which moves one seat to the left after every hand. The dealer button determines the order the cards are dealt but not the betting order like in Hold'em. More on that in a second.
First all players must pay an ante. Then the dealer gives each player three cards, two face-down and one face-up, starting with the player to the left of the dealer button.
In Seven-Card Stud there are no blinds. Instead, betting starts with the person who has the lowest card showing. This is called the “door card”.
The player with the lowest-value door card is forced to make the first bet, but they have two options. They can pay a “Bring-In” which is usually equal to the ante, or they can “Complete” by paying the full amount of the small bet.
Seven-Card Stud is a fixed-limit game which means the amount players can bet and raise is fixed beforehand.
In a typical game, for example, the limits might be $5 and $10. That means the small bet is $5 and the big bet is $10. In this game the ante and bring-in would be $1 and it would cost $5 to complete.
If the player with the lowest door card chooses to make the smaller bring-in, the players next to act can fold, call by paying the same amount as the bring-in, or raise by putting in the amount of the small bet.
If the person who had to bring it in decided to Complete, everyone still to act must pay that amount to call, or double it if they want to raise. Or they can just fold and surrender their original ante.
After that first betting round, called “Third Street” because each player has three cards, the dealer gives each player a fourth card face-up, starting with the player to the left of the dealer button.
The second betting round, called “Fourth Street” starts with the player who has the best two-card hand showing and then proceeds clock-wise. This is the last round where bets and raises are made using the smaller fixed limit, $5 in our example.
This pattern continues for fifth and sixth streets except now bets and raises are made using the bigger fixed limit, $10 in our example.
Usually betting is capped at four bets per betting round.
The final betting round is seventh street and it's a bit different because each player receives their seventh card face-down.
After the seventh betting round any players still in the hand turn over their down-cards make the best five-card poker hand from their seven cards.
The player with the best five-card poker hand wins the pot.
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