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Seven-Card Stud

Introduction

               Seven-card stud is an intricate game that requires much patience and concentration. Though it can be dispiriting at times, since the best starting hand frequently gets, beat, stud still offers a great deal of action that makes the game of card exciting and fun to play.

               There are two critical decisions that you must make when playing seven-card stud. The first occurs on the first betting round, which is known as third street, and is simply whether to enter the pot. If you make this decision well, you should be able to beat most low-limit stud games – providing, that is, that the rest of your game is adequate.

               The second crucial decision you must make is whether to continue playing on the third betting round, which is referred to as fifth street. This is the last opportunity you will have to profitably throw away your hand. If you continue to play a hand on fifth street that you should have discarded, you easily can be trapped for three double-sized bets.

               Of course, every decision you make in seven-card stud is important, and any mistake can prove to be costly. However, your ability to ascertain the best course of action on third and fifth streets is the primary factor that will determine whether you are a winner or a loser in this game. As you will see, to become an expert at seven-card stud requires numerous poker skills, many of which are beyond the scope of this book. But the information that follows should be helpful in ensuring your success in the low limit games.


How to play

In seven-card stud, each player generally posts an ante prior to the cards being dealt (although some low-limit games require no ante). To begin the hand, all players are dealt two down cards and one up card. The poker-etiquette player with the lowest up card is required to start the action on the first betting round with a small bet, which is called the bring-in. If more than one player has the same rank of low card, then suit in alphabetical order-clubs, diamonds, hearts, spades-determines who must start the action.

               The first player to the left of the bring-in has three options: He may throw away his hand, call the bring-in, or raise to a full bet. If he folds or calls the bring-in, the person to his left has the same options; however, if the first player raises to a full bet, the next person now has the options of folding, calling the full bet, or raising again. The action proceeds clockwise in this manner until all players have exercised their options and all bets have been called.

               All  players remaining in the hand then receive three more up cards and a final card face down, with a betting round after each card is dealt. In these subsequent four betting rounds, the player with the high hand on board acts first. If two hands are of equal high value, the player to the left of the dealer initiates the betting action. At the showdown, the player who makes the best five-card poker hand from the seven cards he possesses wins the pot.

               Structured-limit or fixed-limit seven-card stud games have a double limit, with the lower limit used in the early betting rounds and the higher limit (which is usually double the lower limit) used in the later rounds. Thus the lower bet is allowed on the first and second betting rounds-referred to as third street and fourth street-which correspond to the first three cards and the fourth card, and a double-sized bet is required on the third, fourth, and fifth betting rounds. These later rounds correspond to the fifth, sixth, and seventh cards, and are called, respectively, fifth street, sixth street, and seventh street, or the river. There is one exception: If a player has an open pair on fourth street, either a single or a double-sized bet may be made.

    

Here’s an example. Suppose you are playing $3-$6 seven-card stud. Everyone will ante 50 cents, the player with the low card will bring it in for $1, and the first player to his left will have the options of folding, calling the $1 bring-in, or raising to $3.Once the bet has been raised to $3, all subsequent bets and raises on both third and fourth streets will be in $3 increments, unless a player makes an open pair on fourth street. In this case, any active player has the options of betting or raising either $3 or$6. All bets and raised on the last three betting rounds will be in $6 increments. Typically, card games allow three or four raises . But heads up (two players), the number of rises is unlimited.

               Many low-stakes seven-card stud games also are played with spread limits, where each player has the option to vet or raise an amount that is not fixed. As an example, in a typical $1-$4 spread-limit stud game, there is no ante, the low card brings it in for $1, and all bets and raises can be any amount from $1 to $4 at the better’s discretion.

               Finally, in some low-limit stud games, a jackpot is awarded when a very strong hand gets beat by an even better hand.To seed the jackpot pool, the house usually sets aside a small amount of money from each pot, although sometimes an additional ante is required to support the jackpot. When a good hand, such as aces full of queens, gets beat, the player holding the losing hand wins either the entire jackpot or a large percentage of it. In most card rooms, the player holding the winning hand also receives a portion of the jackpot, and sometimes all players dealt in the hand are awarded a token amount of the prize money.

               Jackpot poker is currently very popular in many locations where poker is legal. Depending on the game, typical jackpots range from $2,000 to $10,000, but some have exceeded $50,000.