Major Five Card Stud Variations

Five Card Stud is often described as a flawed game because each player is only dealt 5 hole cards and only 1 of those cards are hidden. The overabundance of information hurts the strategic element of the game because there’s just not any uncertainty. Even complete poker newbies can figure out what their opponents have when just 1 hole card is hidden.

The point of this isn’t to bash 5 Card Stud – it’s still a great game at heart and many people recognize that. In an attempt to address some of Five Card Stud’s problems, people have come up with a ton of variations over the years. These variations have all approached the problems differently so feel free to give them all a try. They all add strategic elements to the game, which is exactly what is needed.

Two Down – Three Up

The only difference between this variant and traditional 5 Card Stud is that two of the cards are dealt face down. After all the cards have been dealt, each player will have two hidden cards and three cards face up. It sounds like a tiny difference but it actually has quite a bit of impact on the game. It opens up the game for more uncertainty, which means hand reading becomes more difficult and bluffing becomes a bigger part of the game.

Three Down – Two Up

This version is played just like original 5 Card Stud except three of the cards are dealt face down and two are dealt face up. This variation brings even more uncertainty to the game and it makes skillful play a more important factor in winning money.

5 Card Stud Hi-Lo

Five Card Stud Hi-Lo adds a little action to the game by splitting each pot between the best high hand and the best low hand. Aces can count as high or low in this game and straights and flushes do not count against the low hand. The player who holds the best traditional hand wins one half of the pot and the player with the five lowest cards wins the other half.

Take It or Leave It

Take It or Leave It plays like normal Five Card Stud until the first up-cards are dealt. When the first player is about to be dealt a card, that card is revealed to the player. That player may choose to take that card or leave it.

If that player takes the card, that card is given to the player and the play proceeds to the next player. If the first player rejects the card, the next card in the deck is given to that player without showing it. The card that was revealed to the first player is then revealed to the next player, who has the same options.

If the same card is rejected by every player at the table, that card is discarded and a new one is drawn from the top of the deck. The dealer should begin each round with the player to the left of the player who was dealt first in the previous round.

Canadian Stud a.k.a. Scandinavian Stud

This gamer isn’t very well known in much of the world but it has a strong following in Finland, where the game is called Sökö. Because big hands are so rare in 5 Card Stud, this variant adds two possible hands to the game: the four flush and the four straight. Both are ranked above pairs but below two-pairs. The four flush is ranked higher than the four straight.

Sökö Hand Rankings:

Hand Rankings

Mexican 5 Card Stud a.k.a. Roll Your Own

The players in this version of 5 Card Stud get both of their first two cards dealt to them face down. Each player may then decide which one of the two cards to flip over. In the end, this looks like 5 Card Stud because there will be 4 cards face up and 1 card face down. This game offers extra strategy for the players because they must decide whether they want to hide their hand strength or show it off.

Deuces Wild

Players can also add spice to the game by adding wild cards. Deuces are typically used but any card can be considered wild. The addition of wild cards creates more action and it makes it a little more difficult for your opponents to read your hands.

Spanish Five Card Stud

This game is played with normal 5 Card Stud rules. The only difference is that all cards ranked 6 and below are removed from the deck.

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