Seven Card Stud was once the most popular game spread in casinos. It can still be found regularly in a handful of casinos in Las Vegas, Atlantic City, Deadwood, and cities in California every day.
The game starts with an ante. All players put an equal amount into the pot that is usually about 20% of a small bet. For example, if a stud game was $1/$2, the ante would be about $.20. The dealer always gives the first card to the player to his left. Unlike Hold’em and Omaha, there is no dealer button in stud. The dealer deals the first two cards to players face down. A third card is placed face up.
Once all players have three cards, the bring-in is determined. This is the lowest card face up on the table. Ties are determined by suit in alphabetical order; clubs, diamonds, hearts, and spades. The two of clubs is considered the lowest card for this purpose.
The bring-in is usually 25%-35% of the small bet, depending on the house rules. In a $1/$2 game, it would be about $.30. In this $1/$2 scenario, the bring-in could bet $.30 or complete the bet to $1. If the low card brings it is for $.30, the first player has the option of calling $.30, completing the bet to $1, or folding. Once a player completes the bet to $1, the next raise is a full $1, which would make $2 total. Seven Card Stud games have a max of one bet and four raises.
Once players have acted on this first betting round, a second up card is dealt starting with the player still in to the left of the dealer, making a combined four cards for each player when including the down cards. On this round and every one after it, the highest door cards bet. The highest hand showing has the option of checking or betting $1. In Seven Card Stud High, a third option is available if a pair is showing anywhere on the table. A player may open or raise for $2.
Once all players have acted on this street, a fifth card is dealt face up. The highest open hand starts the action. On this round, the player may check or bet $2. The same goes for the fourth and fifth betting round, also known as sixth and seventh street. The seventh card dealt to players is dealt face down. There are a total of five betting rounds in Seven Card Stud.
Once all players have acted on seventh, the last bettor shows his hand. If no player bet in the last round, the best four card hand showing will open his cards. The best five card hand is determined. Players that can beat it will show. Those that are beat will hand their cards into the dealer, also known as mucking. The table talks so any player that is unsure of what he has can place his cards face up and the dealer will declare his hand.
There are several variations of Seven Card Stud. The most popular is Seven Card Stud High/Low. In this game, a low hand has the ability to take half of the pot. A winning low hand must have five cards 8 or lower that do not pair to qualify. Aces are considered low in these hands.
Straights and flushes do not counterfeit a low. The best low hand is a wheel, which is an ace-to-five straight. A 6, 4, 3, 2, ace hand is the second best hand. If there is more than one low hand, the lowest high card determines the winner. For example, 7, 4, 3, 2, ace would lose to 6, 5, 4, 2, ace because 6 is lower than 7. The open pair on fourth street cannot double bet in Seven Card Stud High/Low.
Razz uses the same structure as Seven Card Stud High/Low. The difference is that Razz is low-only. This means that the best low hand takes the entire pot. Instead of the low card bringing in, the high card does, starting with the king of spades and working down until the highest card is found. Razz does not generate much action since the board typically identifies the best hand.
The Hoggie is a specialized Seven Card Stud game that is spread at Suncoast in the Las Vegas suburb of Summerlin. Like Razz, the high card brings in. Like Seven Card Stud High/Low, there is an 8 qualifier for low. A pair of jacks is required to win high. If no high hand qualifies, the low hand wins the pot. If there is also no 8 or better low, the pot is split among all participants that still have cards.
The Hoggie is played with a 2-10 spread, meaning that a player can bet anywhere between $2 and $10 at any time. The river allows for a bet up to $20. A player that scoops a pot of $100 or more must post a $10 kill blind. That hand requires $10 to see fourth street for all players. The bring in may still bet just $2 and fold when the action gets back to him.
Seven Card Stud is still spread at several casinos in California. It can be found in high limits at Bellagio. Sam’s Town in Las Vegas spreads a 1-5 spread limit game daily. Borgata and Trump Taj Mahal in Atlantic City still spread the game. Players will find Seven Card Stud High/Low at Suncoast in Las Vegas, Saloon No. 10 in Deadwood, SD, and Canterbury in Minneapolis. Borgata in Atlantic City also spreads the game on occasion.
Five Card Stud is how it all began. Players start with one card down and one card up. All remaining cards are placed face up one at a time after a betting round.
Soko is Canadian Five Card Stud. There are two new hands introduced; a four-card flush and four-card straight. These hands rank between one pair and two pair.