Stud Elements

published on 06/03/06 at 4:52 pm

How many of you out there have tried to enter a H.O.R.S.E. tourney, but don’t feel comfortable playing because of the Stud elements of the game? Well, fear no more, here is a beginners guide to Seven Card Stud.


Seven Card Stud is played with a maximum of 8 players per table. To start, each player posts an ante and is dealt two cards face down, your hole cards, and one face up, your door card. After the deal is completed the player with the lowest door card has the forced bring-in, usually the bring-in is half the small bet. If multiple low cards of the same rank are exposed, then the bring in (in most cases) defaults according to “suit rank.” Diamonds are considered to be the lowest rank, followed by clubs, hearts, and finally spades being the highest ranking suit. The other way to handle this “tie for the bring in” would be the first person (with the shared low door card) to the left of the dealer will be the bring in. Instead of blinds, stud uses antes and a forced bring-in to establish its pot. Do not feel committed to your hand just because you have money in the pot, in other words, don’t protect you “blind.” After the forced bring, all the remaining players have the option to call the bring-in or complete the bet. I will discuss more later on when to complete vs. when to call the bring-in. One card is burnt and 4th Street is dealt to all the players in the hand face up, with first action on the highest showing hand. 5th and 6th Streets follow the same as 4th Street. 7th Street, or the river, is dealt face down after burning a card, with action starting with the highest showing hand. IF there are not enough cards for every player to get a 7th card, the final card is dealt face up in the center of the table. This card is used as a community card for all players. The showdown goes the same way as Texas Hold’em, with the highest 5 card hand winning.

Seven Card Stud is a game of observation. With most of your cards, as well as your opponents, being exposed, it becomes imperative that you learn how to read the hands and habits of those you are playing with. For those of you who will be starting out playing online, I would recommend not playing more than a single table at a time. There is simply too much going on in a single hand of stud to pick up on everything if you are multi-tabling.

People have asked me what the best starting hand in Stud Hi is and I give them two answers. The theoretical best starting hand is AAA, rolled aces, but I also say that any 3 cards that work well together can beat rolled cards. The best starting hands are (in no order): any rolled card, any high pocket pair, any 3 suited cards (use common sense), any 3 connected cards, and any other pocket pair. As I stated before, there is a lot of information that can be gained just by looking around the table. When deciding on whether or not to play a hand, take a look at the door cards. If you see more than 3 cards that would help your hand, you probably don’t want to play it, even if it’s AKQ. All you are doing by playing your hand is decreasing your odds to win, making all of your bets and calls donations to the winner.

Here is an example. You hold [Jd 4d] Jh. You see the following door cards: 9c, 8h, 7h, Kd, 10h. Should you play this hand?

Yes and no. Proceed with caution, just calling the bring-in.

There are a few things you should have picked up from the door cards. First, you possibly have 2 Jacks alive in the deck. Second, your flush draw, though it’s a long shot, is alive and well. Third, you shouldn’t be playing to make a straight. If you see an opponent starting to show a straight, use caution and consider folding.

Earlier I mentioned the option to complete the bring-in after the deal. I don’t recommend to a new player to even consider completing the bring in unless you are holding rolled cards. Stick to just calling the bring-in and play your cards vs. what your opponent is showing. The best wisdom I can give you is to not be afraid to fold if you feel your beat. I know the image of Stud is that it’s a drawing mans game, but use the information given to you by reading the table. Don’t try to draw out on players, fold, save your chips for a better opportunity to get them into the middle.

I’m going to touch briefly on when and why to complete a bring-in. Obviously when you are holding rolled A’s, you’re going to want to push hard. Your hand, unless you boat, is very vulnerable to being beat by a straight or a flush. You have two options on how to play the hand after the deal. If you know your table and can expect someone behind you to complete the bet, just call the bring-in and re-raise when the action comes back around to you. If you don’t think someone will complete the bet, do it yourself. You will push people out of the hand, which improves your odds of winning. Either action works well for establishing the fact that you have a strong hand. In my opinion, displayed strength goes a long way to helping you push players off of draws.

This is a start to the knowledge needed to play Stud Hi. I am always available to answer questions about Stud. Don’t hesitate to ask me a question; after all, the dumbest question is the one you didn’t ask.

Stud Cowboy is a consistent online winner in Stud and is always interested in discussing the game as well as finding those tables/sites that are especially ripe.

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One Response to “Stud Elements”

  1. [...] information playing Hold’em, why not give stud a try. I’ve authored one piece on how to play Stud. Check it out, it goes into how to use the information to your [...]

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