In Stud Poker players each player is dealt a hand with some cards face-down (“in-the-hole”) and some face-up that other players can see. Typical 7-card stud begins with 2 cards dealt face-down with 1 face-up before the first betting round followed by 3 more face-up cards, each followed by a round of betting and one final card face down with a final betting round. 5 card stud deals each player only 1 card face down with 4 face-up for the table to see. Variations on these common themes are innumerable.

Simple wild cards are rare in Stud Poker; instead, wild cards are given strict stipulations. For example, a dealer might call Ace-in-the-hole, which would designate only face-down (or in-the-hole) aces as wild.

7 Card Stud

The game of 7 card stud proceeds as described above. Usually all players are required to contribute an ante (often 10 to 25% of the lower betting limit) before any cards are dealt. In a limit game the first two rounds of betting are at the lower level and the betting after the 5th, 6th and 7th cards is at the higher level.

The first round of betting starts with a forced bet by the lowest upcard taking suits into account. This bet is called the “bring-in”, and they may bet either the minimum bring-in (half the lower betting limit) or the limit for that round. If the initial action was a bet of half the lower betting limit and another play “completes the bet” by betting the full amount, this does not constitute a raise. If a three raise rule is used, three more raises will be allowed.

On subsequent betting rounds, the high hand showing initiates the betting. A tie is broken by the hand who received cards first taking the first action. After the second upcard is dealt (4th street) if a pair is showing, any player may bet either the lower or upper limit. For example in a $10/$20 game, the player with a pair showing has the option of betting $10 or $20. If $10 is bet, any player has the option to call $10, raise $10 or raise $20. If a raise of $20 is made, all other raises must be in increments of $20. If the original player checks, then all other players have the same options.

For irregularities that may occur during the play or the dealing, please refer the rules of poker.

Stud Variations


A High-Low game refers to one in which the pot is split between the highest and lowest valued hands. If the dealer allows it, a player of Seven Card Stud may call “pig” and vie for both high and low hand in order to take the whole pot; however, if a player calls Pig but only has one of the two required hands, that player forfeits the win entirely and the next best hands divide the pot.


In this variation the hand of lowest value wins the pot.

New York Stud:

An outside straight is inserted in the hand-rank above a pair and below two-pairs

Canadian Stud:

Canadian Stud has the hand-rank of New York Stud but also includes a 4-card flush. This mini-flush beats the outside straight but is ranked below two-pairs.

Spanish Stud:

As in Spanish Draw, this variant uses a deck of only 32 (from 7-Ace). In the case of 7-card stud, only four players may play at a time with a standard single deck.

Bet or Drop:

In this variation, the opener of any betting round must open with the minimum bet or fold and may not check or pass.


Showdown (a.k.a. ‘Cold-Hands’) has no betting rounds. Instead, players begin by putting in an especially large ante and all cards are dealt face-up sequentially. The highest hand wins.

Examples of Popular Stud Games

Sevens Are Best:

Also known as ‘Sevens Take All,’ this game uses an altered hand-rank where a pair of sevens is the top hand.

Kings and Low-in-the-Hole:

This popular variant has two wild cards: all kings in play are wild, also each individual player counts the lowest face-down card in their hand as their wildcard (if a player had a 3 in the hole, any 3s dealt face up – or ‘on-deck’ – would also be wild).

Follow the Queen:

This seven card stud game is played with Queens wild. During the game, each time a queen is dealt face-up the next face-up card dealt at the table (sometimes called the ‘Duke,’ the ‘Maid’ or the ‘Trailer’) is also wild. If a second queen is dealt, the original ‘Duke’ is no longer wild and the card that follows the new Queen takes the Duke position. This means the second wild card in the game may change up to four times during the game depending on how many queens are dealt face-up. Usually, in a case where a queen is the final face-up card of the deal, it determines that there will be no ‘Duke’ card for that game. The dealer may choose to call ‘no-Queen-no-game’. In this case, if no Queens are dealt face up, the game is null and the players must add an ante to the pot and start again.

Roll Your Own:

This game allows each player to choose which four of the seven cards will be shown face up. The dealer begins by giving each player three cards. The players must then, upon a pre-arranged signal, lay a card they have chosen on deck face-up. This is followed by a betting round after which another card is dealt face down and, again, the player may choose one of the three face-down cards to place face-up. This continues until each player has been dealt 6 cards and 4 of them have been placed on deck. The last card is dealt face-down and stays and stays face-down for the final betting round.