There’s nothing quite like sitting down at the poker table to play a few hands. Whether you’re among a group of pals relaxing on a Saturday night or a rambunctious group of trash-talking strangers in a rowdy casino, poker is a delicate dance of skill, fortune, and theater.
Of course, there are different variations of poker, each with unique rules, strategies, and numbers of cards in play. Texas Hold’Em has soaked up much of the spotlight in the last decade or two, thanks to televised coverage, big personalities, and mind-blowing high stakes tournaments.
Perhaps lingering in the shadow of Texas Hold’Em, but no less of a compelling game, is Seven Card Stud Poker. A game of colorful terms and unique rounds, Seven Card Stud is a fantastic poker variation to include in your card-playing arsenal.
The Seven Card Stud game begins with the dealer doling out two face down cards and one face up card to each player to his or her left, moving around the table in a clockwise fashion. The player with the lowest value face up card, called the “door card,” is responsible for the bring.
Following the bring, the first betting round, called Third Street, commences with the player to the left of the bring. That player can either fold, call, or raise depending on the strength of their cards or strategy. Play then proceeds around the table until every player has had the opportunity to act.
The second betting round, known as Fourth Street, kicks off with the dealer dealing a new face up card, placed next to the first face up card, to every player sequentially, starting with the one closest to the dealer’s left. In this round, and in every subsequent round, the first player to take action is determined by the player with the highest value cards showing. Each player again gets an opportunity to make a move with either a check, call, raise, or fold.
Give yourself a hand (pun intended!) if you guessed that the next round is called Fifth Street. Right you are! Here, the dealer again hands out another face card to the players still in the game in a clockwise fashion. Similar to Fourth Street, the player with the highest value cards showing begins the action. The play options available also mimic Fourth Street, with the exception of larger bets.
The big betting limit continues on Sixth Street and Seventh Streets, where play continues in the same manner as Fifth Street. The dealer deals out two face up cards, one per round. The first player to make on Sixth Street is settled by the highest value of four face up cards. That player also has the right to act first on Seventh Street. Both rounds use big betting limits.
One of your best strategies in Seven Card Stud is to keep a close eye on the cards of other players, which can be invaluable in forecasting certain outcomes. You might be better off folding if other players have the cards you need. Try to establish your game plan and hand in early rounds and stick to the plan.
Mastering Seven Card Stud may well expand your horizons to a new world of poker thrills. If you find yourself enjoying the game, be sure to check out other Stud variants like Stud Eight or Better and Razz.