Playing Seven-Card Stud
Seven-Card Stud poker is a five-round betting game with seven cards in a hand, two to eight players, antes instead of blinds, and a low card to bring in the action. An ante is an amount of money or chips that is put into the pot before a new game of Seven-Card Stud is dealt. This amount can be as low as fifty cents and usually increases based on the limit structures of the Seven-Card Stud game that you are playing.
What is a door card?
A door card is the third card dealt to each player. It is dealt face-up while the other two cards are dealt face-down. Your opponents' door cards let you know how many cards of a specific rank and suit have already been dealt and are therefore not available to make your hand should you need any of them.
It's important to make note of everyone's door card whether they call or fold. This is because you are getting an opportunity to see valuable cards that can either make or break your hand. You also want to be aware of how many players are in the hand and, if someone raises, what his door card is and whether he acted before or after you. You should also know whether you are in a loose game or a tight game, to give you an idea of the kind of action you can expect if you decide to raise.
Remember, when a player folds, online or offline, his door cards go into the muck with his two hole cards, so pay particular attention to each face-up card before you act or he folds.
The deal for Seven-Card Stud games is universal and performed the same way no matter what Seven-Card Stud game you are playing.
First, starting with the player in seat one, the seat to the immediate left of the dealer button, one card at a time will be dealt around the board, with each player's first two cards being dealt face-down and their third card, the door card, being dealt face-up. On your computer screen you will see all three of your cards; however, your opponents can only see your door card, as you can only see their door cards.
These three cards are also called Third Street; this is where the player with the lowest door card (the worst possible is 2c, the Deuce of clubs) is forced to open, usually with a dollar or two. Online players don't have to do a thing with the antes or low card bets, as the computer's software automatically puts out their opening bets.
The betting action then continues clockwise, and each player, in turn, can either call, raise, or fold. If a raise takes place, then a maximum of three raises are allowed.
If you are playing in a $3 to $6 game, the low card would open for $1. There usually aren't any antes in low-limit games. This is especially true with offline poker games.
The next player can then call the $1 or raise to $3. Should there be any additional raises, they would be done in increments of $3. When the action gets back into the low card, the player who originally opened the betting for $1, she will then have the option to call the bets or to raise or re-raise.
When a player “brings it in,” she must place a low-limit bet into the pot to start the game's action. This can be half the size of the lowest bet allowed in any particular game, or, in some places, anywhere from $1 to $3.
A fourth card, or Fourth Street, is dealt face-up to each player starting with the first player in the hand to the left of the dealer button, and then the betting in $3 increments begins. However, on Fifth Street, when your fifth card is dealt face-up, the betting structure doubles and it will now cost $6 to bet and raise in increments of $6.
The same holds true with Sixth Street, when one more — and the last — card is dealt face-up. Again the betting, starting with the player with the highest hand on the board, starts at $6. However, on the river, Seventh Street, your final card is dealt face-down. You now have three cards face-down and four cards up, as do all your opponents.
When choosing your online action, all you have to do is review the list of moves in a readily visible action box, located at the bottom center of your computer screen, and click on your choice. Your move will be automatically performed by the computer software.
As you can see, there are a lot of cards out on the table, and many should be helping you decide how to play your hand. This is why it is so very important that you be aware of every card that has been dealt and folded face-up.
At the end of the betting, the software will read the hands and push the pot to the winner. In offline Seven-Card Stud poker games, the dealer reads the cards and pushes the pot to the winning hand.
The Betting Structure
The betting structure in Seven-Card Stud poker consists of a small opening bet made by the player dealt the lowest door card. There are many levels available online, but our examples will be based on a $3/$6 limit game. This would mean that if someone wants to raise the $1, he can raise the minimum bet to $3. However, if the bet is raised again, all subsequent raises would have to be made in $3 increments.
The betting structure would remain at $3 on Fourth Street, but on Fifth Street it is raised from $3 to $6. Now all raises will have to be made in $6 increments. On Sixth Street the betting opens at $6, as it does on Seventh Street, or the river.
When all betting has ended, the computer software will read the hands and push the pot to the winner. On most online sites you will also hear a chime sound indicating that you're a winner. In offline casino and card room games, the dealer reads the cards and pushes the pot to the winner.
Let's say you are dealt Kd-Kh as your face-down hole cards, with a 10d as your exposed door card; you have a very good starting hand for a Limit Seven-Card Stud poker game.
Always be aware of everyone's door cards and be sure that any cards that you may need to make your hand are not already on the board.
When the betting gets around to the opening bet player, she will have the option to call an additional $2 if no one has raised. She may also call any of the raises, re-raise, or fold.
In addition to your two Kings in the hole and your Ten door card, you are now dealt your second face-up card, but the fourth card to your hand. Here is how your hand now looks: face-down cards, (Kh and Ks); face-up cards, 10d and 2h. You are first to act because your hand shows the lowest ranked cards, no high card, no pairs, no sets. So you check. If anyone bets or raises, does it look as if she may be going for a straight, or that she could have a set if her door card has paired? Also make sure that there are still no Kings around the table before you decide whether or not to take one more off, and call the bet.
When you “take one more off,” you are paying to see the next card because the betting levels are still low and it is worth the call if you have a strong working hand.
And be sure to make note of any and all cards that have been folded up to this point, as they will affect not only how you continue playing your hand, but also how your opponent plays her hand. For example, it may appear that she is going for a flush, but you know that the Ace to her flush has already been folded.
It is on Fifth Street where we can see hands forming and begin to get a better read on our opponents' hands. It is also on Fifth Street where the betting limits double, making it more expensive if you're still strictly on a drawing hand.
Let's say our Fifth Street hand now looks like this: (Kh-Ks)-10d-2h-Kc. But remember, on Fifth Street everyone still in the hand also has five cards. Even though you may now have a set of Kings, an opponent could have just made his straight, if that's what his exposed cards tell you, or another could have made her flush, if her exposed cards indicate a flush, or someone else could even have just filled up.
When you are not sure of a specific opponent's hand, watch for how he plays his cards. If a usually tight player suddenly bets quickly or raises, proceed with caution.
By Sixth Street, if you are still on a drawing hand and the betting is getting pretty steep, you will have to make some decisions before you start throwing good money after bad. Your hand now looks like this: (Kh-Ks)-10d-2h-Kc-10h. Excellent — you fill up. Now look around the board in the hope of seeing that an opponent or two appears to have caught their flush, as they will most probably be your action.
When you make a full house on Fifth or Sixth Street, slow play your hand in the hope that a few of your opponents catch their flushes and straights on the river. Then, on the river, make your move with a raise or re-raise.
If you are first to act you might want to check here. Most Seven Card Stud players will not automatically assume that you have made a full house here, so the nut flush hand will definitely bet, if for no other reason than to try and find out where you are with your hand. So just check or call, because you don't want to lose any players and you don't want to give your opponents any information until the river.
Here is what your final hand looks like: (Kh-Ks)-10d-2h-Kc-10h-Qd. Now when you look around the board it is obvious that there are straights and flushes in your opponents' hands. If you are first to act, or in an early position, bet or call the action and hope the nut flush comes out with a raise that you will gladly re-raise when the action gets back to you. But if you see anyone with an Ace on her board with a pair, and she has called or raised all along, she may possibly have a higher full house with well-concealed Aces in the hole.
When all betting has ceased, the computer software will turn over the cards, starting with the hand that was last to act and continuing clockwise around the table from there. The software will then read the hands and award the pot to the winning hand.