All about Seven Card Stud
Long before Texas Hold ‘em or few other popular variants of poker came into being, Seven Card Stud, also popularly referred to as Stud hi was the game that everyone played when the poker night of the week came around! This game involves a bit of strategy, a bit of memory and a bit of skill, all the three aspects being pretty exciting in themselves.

All players playing Seven Card Stud (2 - 8 eight players at max) are handed one up card and two hole cards (facedown cards). Thereafter, three more up cards are dealt, followed by three rounds of betting, and then the dealing and betting round for final down card. So, every player gets a total of seven cards – three facedown cards and four face up cards. The player is allowed to make his/her best five card poker hand from his/her seven cards, and whoever gets the best hand, wins the amount in the pot. As is applicable in Hold ‘em poker, aces work as both low and high cards.

Let’s now get into a detailed description of the Seven Card Stud poker game.

Every new hand dealt in Seven Card Stud poker starts with all the players putting in their ante bets into the pot. It’s actually a payment to be made into the pot prior to the dealing of the cards. To give you an example, if you’re playing the £ 2 / £ 4 limit game, this starting or ante bet amount could be 40p (usually 10% of the higher limit). Every player at the table must ante his/her hand in order to receive his/her cards.

Whenever you sit at a Seven Card Stud poker table, in an offline or an online casino like Bet365 etc. you’re dealt in almost immediately, after placing your ante bet (however, don’t forget to ask for your casino bonus!). As there are no blinds involved, there is no need of waiting either.

Furthermore, whenever you avail any such casino bonus, make sure that you don’t waste it away on casino games that are more about luck or chance, for instance slot machines, roulette or those kinds. It would be much better that you employ such bonus to play card games wherein you can also use a fair amount of skill to increase your returns. However, if you’re really keen on playing slots, it’d be better to indulge in slot gratis, which normally doesn’t involve any charges.

Getting back to Seven Card Stud, the dealer’s position doesn’t normally rotate and every round’s first card is dealt to the first active player sitting to the dealer’s left.
Once all the ante bets have been placed, the dealer starts the game by distributing two cards in facedown position to every player at the table, followed by another card in face up position (also referred to as the up card, window card or the door card), starting from the player sitting to his/her left. The two facedown cards are called hole cards or simply down cards. You’re able to see the up cards of every player sitting at the table, and they can see yours.
Just like any other poker variant, Seven Card Stud is also mainly about the betting rounds. It features five betting rounds and the bet sizes depend on the game structure.


Third Street - The first betting round
The first round of betting in Seven Card Stud is also referred to as Third Street, in which betting starts from the player who gets the lowest up card. It’s a kind of forced bet that must be equal to the specified minimum at least, and is also referred to as the bring-in. However, it can even be more. Bring-in amount is usually one fourth of the lower limit.
In the event that two or more players get the up cards of same ranks, the player required to bring-in is ascertained based on suits of the up cards in the reverse bridge order - that is clubs, diamonds, hearts and spades. For instance, if three players get deuces during the first round, with the cards dealt in the following order: 2 of spades, 2 of hearts and 2 of diamonds, it’s the player with two of diamonds who’ll need to place the bring-in bet.

It is mandatory for you to place a bet if you’re in possession of the lowest card. You get only two choices, which are:
– You may open for the bring-in by placing a bet of 50p (in context of the above £ 2 / £ 4 limit game), or
– You may complete the bet by increasing it to the amount set as the lower limit (£ 2).

Although you’re free to complete the bet, players normally choose to open for the bring-in. In case everyone at the table folds his/her cards, you win the ante bets. The game ends and the next hand is dealt to the players.

Generally it’s observed that players don’t fold for bring-in. In case you choose to open for the bring-in, every succeeding player can make either of the following three decisions:
– Fold his/her cards
– Call, by matching the bring-in bet amount or
– Complete the bring-in bet by increasing it to the pre-decided lower limit (in this case £ 2)

In case you or anyone at the table decides to complete the bet, every succeeding player after him/her can make either of the following three moves:
– Fold his/her cards
– Call, by matching the bet amount
– Raise, by increasing the amount of the preceding bet, usually by double

Every succeeding player at the table gets the same three options as above. If there is a raise at any point of time, every succeeding player has the option of either calling the total bet or raise the bet. Please note that every betting round in Seven Card Stud can have a maximum of three raises and one bet.
When talking about the first round of betting (Third Street), it’s the bring-in bet and the completion bet that constitute one bet.
Let’s explain it with an example: you’re playing a £ 2 / £ 4 limit game in an offline/online casino like Bet365, and open by placing a 50p bring-in. Another player at the table completes the bet by placing £ 2, followed by two players raising the bet. It’ll take the total bet amount to £ 6, which is equal to 3 bets. At this point, only one more raise can be made by any player at the table. By making a raise, that player would take the total bet to the maximum, and conclude the betting process for that round. Any player who chooses to fold his/her cards for a raise, the corresponding cards are removed from the game. (On a side note, don’t forget to ask for your casino bonus, especially if you’re playing in an online casino like Bet365)

Fourth Street - The second betting round
After the betting for the first round or Third Street is completed and every player has either folded his/her cards or matched the total bet amount, the dealer hands out every active player at the table a second up card (starting from the first live player sitting to the his/her left, moving in clockwise direction). All players still in play engage in another round of betting.
In this round, as well as in all successive betting rounds, the betting action starts with the player who has the highest value show cards. Show cards’ value is determined based on the same rules that are applicable to poker hands. As only two cards are revealed during the fourth Street, the best possible poker hand would be one that comprises of two aces (Ace of spades and Ace of hearts), and worst one would be one consisting of 2 of clubs and 3 of clubs. Any pair would outscore a non-pair hand.

The first player has two options:
– Checking, or placing no bets, or
– Betting the small/lower limit bet amount

In case the first player doesn’t bet, the next player gets the same two choices as above, and so on. There is a possibility of no bets getting placed in every round except in Third Street. A betting round that gets no betting action is referred to as a ‘Checked Round.’

In case any of the players places a bet, the succeeding players have the following three options:
– Folding their hands
– Calling the bets, by matching the bet amount
– Raising the bets, by increasing the bet amount

Anyone who checks gets to retain his/her cards. In case someone places a bet, a player who had previously checked, gets the above three options. Checking a hand and then raising the bet when your turn comes next is referred to as check-raising.

Fifth Street – Third round of betting
After the third betting round or Fourth Street is complete, the dealer deals all the remaining players another up card, starting with the first one to his/her left, and then going on in clockwise direction. Betting starts after all the cards have been dealt. The rules remain the same as in Fourth Street. The player having the best show cards starts the betting action. Since there are three show cards in game at this point of time, anyone having three of a kind stands the best chance of starting the round.
How this differs from the previous rounds is that you place bets based on the higher betting limit. This betting round is quite like the Fourth Street except for the bet sizes.

Sixth Street – Fourth round of betting
This round is same as the Fifth Street and every player still in the game is dealt one more face up card by the dealer. The one having the highest value show cards starts the betting round. Since there are four show cards at this point of the game, anyone having a four of a kind stands the best chance of starting the betting round. This round also involves betting based on the higher betting limit (£ 4 in context of the above example).

Seventh Street – Fifth and final round of betting
Post the completion of the fifth betting round or the Sixth Street, the dealer hands out every player still in the game one final card in facedown position. Once again, the dealing starts with the first player (still in action) to the dealer’s left, moving in clockwise direction.
The player having the best show cards in the fourth round begins the betting action in this round too. As the final card is dealt in facedown position, it doesn’t affect the four show cards’ values. Like the earlier two rounds, this one also involves betting using the higher betting limit.

Final Showdown
Once everyone is done with the fifth and final betting round, the players still alive in the game indulge in something known as showdown. Every player creates his/her best five card hand from the seven cards dealt to him/her. The leftover two cards are considered dead and hold no value at the end.
Regardless of whether you’re playing this game in an offline casino or an online one like Bet365, its rules and process of play remains more or less the same. Furthermore, don’t forget to enquire about your casino bonus whenever you play Seven Card Stud online. Now let’s see how the final hands are evaluated.

How hands are evaluated
Following rules determine the evaluation of the winning hand:
– The final winning hand is decided using the normal poker hand rankings. There are usually no exceptions to this rule, so a flush is always considered higher than a straight, and a four of a kind always beats a three of a kind, which in turn always beats two pairs.
– In case of the remaining players don’t have any significant hands, the winning hand is determined based on the highest value single card.
– Suits are never taken into account for the final evaluation of the hands. In case two players have exactly the same hand (irrespective of the suits), the amount in the pot is split between them.