Seven Card Stud
For a long time, Seven Card Stud was the most popular form of poker in the US. Eventually, Texas Hold'em's surge in popularity would dethrone this classic poker game from its top spot, but this particular version of stud still has its followers. Because Seven Card Stud has simple rules that almost anyone can follow, it's always been popular in home games, where it's often the second poker variant learned, after five card draw. When children or new players have moved past the comforts of five card draw and are looking to hone their skills in betting, Seven Card Stud is almost always where they turn. Because it's easy to play and understand, it appeals to all levels of players. This is likely one of the reasons that Seven Card Stud is not one, not two, but three of the five poker variants played in HORSE (the others being Hold'em & Omaha), as Razz, a variant where players compete for the lowest hand (R), standard Seven Card Stud (S) and Eights or Better (E) variants are all included.
How Seven Card Stud is Played
While there are many different takes on the rules of Seven Card Stud, the most commonly agreed upon rules (those used in tournament poker), are these:
Two cards are dealt face down to each player. Players then bet. A card is dealt face up to every player. Another round of betting takes place. A fourth card is dealt to each player, again face up, and again players bet. This happens with the fifth and sixth cards, with betting after each card. For the final round, players take their seventh card face down, and bet once more.
What it Offers
Stud offers a simple, clear-cut set of rules that are easy to learn, combined with the added complexity of a developed betting game. Newer players will feel comfortable with the structure of the game and can focus on learning other aspects of poker-playing, and veteran players can get just as much of a challenge from betting and protection on a hand of stud as they can from any other form of poker. Stud leaves the door wide open for alternate rules and methods of play, which help keep players coming back to this particular poker variant time and time again. Regardless of your play style, stud has an interesting game to offer you.
Seven Card Stud Variations
Seven Card Stud has many variations, most of which have their own variations. If you're playing a home game of Seven Card Stud, it's important to make sure that everyone is on the same page where the rules are concerned, because two people may have spent their entire lives playing the same game by slightly different rules. Here are some of the most popular Seven Card Stud variations:
Mississippi Stud is currently one of the most popular stud variations. Instead of the last card being down, it's played up, with no betting between the fourth and fifth rounds. This makes the game very similar to Texas Hold'em, except that the up cards are all individually owned, rather than community cards. The game is rapidly growing in popularity.
Razz is the low version of Seven Card Stud, where players compete to have the lowest hand. The lowest possible hand is Ace of Clubs 2 of Diamonds 3 of Hearts 4 of Spades 5 of Clubs , as straights and flushes do not count against the player in Razz. This hand is often known as "the wheel."
Chicago or Black Mariah is a split-pot version of Seven Card Stud where the pot is split between the high hand and the player with the highest spade in the hole. One player can hold both at the same time, at which point he or she will win the whole pot.
Deuces, Jacks, Man with the Axe, Pair of Natural Sevens Takes All is one example of a wild card poker game that's very popular as a Seven Card Stud variant. As the name implies, twos, Jacks, and the King of Diamonds (called the "Man with the Axe" because this is how he's traditionally depicted on the card) are all wild, making for a very interesting hand with generally high-ranking hands across the board on the reveal. While it started as a 5 card stud variant, this particular game has found its way into 7 card as well, partially because the possibility of a player holding a pair of sevens shifts the odds and makes betting more complicated. Its long, rhyming name makes it a popular choice for children.
Kings and Little Ones is another wild card variation. In this game, the wild cards are kings and the lowest card in the player's hand. One sub-variation says that you have to have a king for the "little one" to be wild. Cards come two down, four up, and then the player can choose whether the last card comes up or down.
Sweat is a variation where all the cards are dealt face-down, and players cannot look at them (it's ultimately a blind version of Seven Card Stud with a slow reveal and a lot of betting). The first player turns over a card, and betting ensues. The next player turns over cards until he or she has a hand that beats that of the first player, and more betting follows. This goes on around the table; players who can't beat the previous player's hand are out. Players who have a reveal later on will have to decide whether it's worth riding the early betting for a chance at their own cards, and players in the first few spots will have a good idea of what everyone else's hands are, except for their own, and will have to bet (or not) accordingly.