Stud Poker used to be the most popularly played variant of poker before the rise of Texas Hold’em. There are still many online poker rooms which host games of Stud Poker, and it is important for players who enjoy mixed poker games (such as H.O.R.S.E.) to understand how draw games are played to gain the most benefit from them. Stud Poker is one of the easiest poker games to learn, and winning combinations of cards follow the standard hand ranking system.
The Rules of Stud Poker
Stud Poker is played “Flop Limit”, and Ace is considered both high and low.
The Start of the Game
Stud Poker is played with a single deck of cards, and the first dealer is established by dealing one card to each player – the highest determining who the first dealer will be. Unlike Hold´em or Omaha, there is no benefit to being sat immediately in front of the dealer as the order of betting in later rounds is decided by who has the highest ranked combination of cards open in front of them. The betting action and rotation of the deal button moves in a clockwise direction around the table.
At the very beginning of each game players pay an ante into the pot and three cards are dealt to each player – two hidden and one face up. The player with the lowest open card has the option of making a forced bet (“bring-in”) or making a full bet in the event that his two hidden cards are relatively good. Commencing with the player to the left of the “bring-in”, each player takes it in turn to “call” the minimum bet, “raise” the amount of the bet or fold their cards. Those folding their cards play no further part in the hand. Betting is capped after one bet and three subsequent raises (in all rounds).
In the event of there being a tie for the highest card to determine the deal, or the lowest card to decide who makes the “Bring-in”, cards are ranked in suit superiority – in the order spades, hearts, diamonds, clubs. So, if the Four of Clubs and Four of Spades are both open after the initial deal, it is the Jack of Clubs that is ranked lower and who will have to pay the forced bet.
Each player still in the game after the first round of betting now receives a fourth card, which is dealt open. Starting with the player who has the highest ranking open two cards, the betting once again revolves around the table, with each active player having the opportunity to check, bet, call or raise.
For the initial betting round, and the round following Fourth Street, bets are made in the amount of the lower figure advertised on the table. Therefore, if a table is shown as $1/$2, raises and calls are made in increments of $1.
As in the Fourth Street, each player still in the game now receives a fifth card and a further betting round ensues starting with the player with the highest ranking open cards in front of them. Betting from Fifth Street onwards takes place at the higher figure being played for at the table, so in the event of being on a $1/$2 table, bets and calls are in increments of $2.
The sixth card is the last to be dealt face up, and players are once more involved in a round of betting prior to the final card (“river”) being dealt. Again, the person who is showing the highest ranked open cards starts the betting. In the event of a pair or three of a kind showing amongst the open cards, the first person to bet is determined by who has the highest “kicker”, or unpaired open card
The River is the seventh and final card, and is dealt face down and known (like the first two cards to be dealt) only to the player. The first player to bet is the same as who started the betting after Sixth Street as it is based on who is showing the highest exposed hand, and continues, as before in a clockwise direction around the table amongst the players who still remain involved in the hand. Each player has the option of checking, raising, calling or folding until such time as all bets have been placed, or the betting reaches a maximum of one bet and three re-raises whereafter it is capped.
The last person to raise is the first to show their cards, and players to the left follow thereafter. The winner is the person who has the highest ranked five-card hand amongst the seven cards they have been dealt, and scoops the pot. In the event of a tie, the pot is equally divided amongst the winners. There is no precedence of suit for the purposes of awarding the pot
Stud Hi/Lo Poker
Stud Hi/Lo Poker is played in the same way as the regular game (above), however there is also the provision for a winning “low” hand to equally share the pot. To qualify as a low hand, the player must have five cards which are uniquely ranked Eight or lower –ie A2457 is acceptable, A2557 does not qualify. The winning low hand can also form a Straight (A2345) or Flush (2h 3h 5h 7h 8h) which may also make it eligible for the high pot. In the event that there is no qualifying low hand, the whole pot is awarded to the player with the best “High” hand. In the event of a tie for either the high or low hand, the pot is equally divided – there is no precedence of suit for the purposes of awarding the pot.