Seven Card Stud Poker Games and Variations
As one of the oldest forms of poker, Seven Card Stud has been around long enough for numerous variations to have been invented. The most commonly played variations all share a common betting structure so once you learn one form of Seven Card Stud, the rest are pretty easy to learn as well. The main differences between the variations are the winning hands.
The most popular forms of Seven Card Stud include:
- Seven Card Stud Hi
- Seven Card Stud Hi/Lo (a.k.a. Seven Card Stud Eight or Better)
These variations are most commonly played with one of these two betting structures:
- Fixed Limit
- Spread Limit
All variations of 7 Card Stud are mostly played in the fixed limit format and occasionally in the spread limit format. The nature of the game makes it a poor candidate for pot limit and no limit. Every once in a while you’ll find a pot limit Stud game but it’s not very common.
Seven Card Stud Hi
This is the original game and its name is usually just shortened to “Seven Card Stud.” The object of the game is to get the highest possible 5 card poker hand. By the end of the hand, each player will have received a total of 7 cards and any 5 of those cards may be used to create the final hand.
Even though Texas Holdem is the main game today, Seven Card Stud Hi is definitely worth learning. It requires a unique skill set that involves remembering many cards and reading hands in a different way than what you are used to with the community card games such as Holdem. In addition to that, you will need to learn Seven Card Stud if you ever want to play mixed poker games such as H.O.R.S.E. poker.
Seven Card Stud Hi/Lo
Seven Card Stud Hi/Lo also goes by the names “Seven Card Stud Eight or Better” and “Seven Card Stud 8/b.” In Seven Card Stud Hi/Lo, the betting structure is the same but when it comes to the showdown, there can be up to two winnings hands: the high hand and the low hand. The owners of each hand split the pot 50/50.
The high hand is determined according to the same rules as regular 7 Card Stud. The player with the best 5 card poker hand wins the high half of the pot. If there is no qualifying low hand, the player with the best high hand “scoops” the entire pot.
A hand may qualify for the low half of the pot if it contains 5 unpaired cards all ranked 8 or lower. Straights and flushes do not count against the low hand so the best possible low hand is A-2-3-4-5 (also called “the wheel”). When evaluating low hands, the hand is ranked beginning with its highest card and then working down.
A single player may go for both halves of the pot, using different cards from his hand to create each hand. In some cases, the same hand can win both halves of the pot. For example, the hand A-2-3-4-5 could win the high half as a straight and the low half as the nut low.
Razz is played just like Seven Card Stud except in Razz, the lowest hand wins the pot. Aces always count as low and straights and flushes do not count against you, but pairs do. The best (lowest) possible hand in Razz is A-2-3-4-5.
Because the hand values are essentially reversed in Razz, the highest card must pay the bring-in each round. After that, the lowest hand showing must act first on all other betting rounds.
Razz poker is represented by the “R” in H.O.R.S.E. so this game is definitely worth learning if you like to play mixed games. Once you get a basic understanding of the hand values in Razz poker, the rest is easy to learn.
Most variations of Seven Card Stud are played in the fixed limit format. The game just wasn’t made for no-limit because there are five separate betting rounds and the hand values can change drastically from one round to the next. There’s not enough information available early on for players to go all-in without turning the game into a crapshoot.
In fixed limit, each bet and raise must be made in specific increments. The lower betting limit is used during the first two betting rounds and the upper betting limit is used during the last three betting rounds.
For example, in $10/$20 fixed limit, all bets and raises on 3rd street and 4th street would have to be made in increments of $10. On 5th street and on, the bets would be made in increments of $10.
Spread limit isn’t played nearly as often as fixed limit but you might run across it in live games. In spread limit games, players have the option to bet between any amount between two specified amounts. For example, in a $2-10 spread limit game, the players may bet any amount between $2 and $10 on each street.
Once a player makes a bet, any raises of that bet must be double the original bet. If a player bets $5 in that same $2-10 game, any raises would have to be $5 or greater, for a total bet of $10 or more. The player making the raise would not be allowed to raise that $5 bet up to only $7 or $8.