A classic game in the world of poker, seven-card stud, also known as “down-the-river,” once held the title of one of the world’s most popular poker variants, that is until the rise of Texas Holdem. The difference between the two games is the fact that seven-card stud does not involve a flop, and usually no community cards at all.
Typically involving anywhere from two to eight players, betting is usually played in fixed increments, meaning for $2-$4 limit game, bets are in increments of two in the first two rounds, and increments of four in the following three rounds. Each player is dealt three cards, and before each hand is dealt, players must ante a certain amount. Of the three cards, two are given face down, and one face up, referred to as “third street.” The player with the lowest card exposed begins the game and is known as the “bring in,” and must put the lower increment into the pot.
Each suit is ranked from lowest to highest as clubs, diamonds, hearts, and finally, spades. Each round starts clockwise and continues until each player has placed their bets, leading to the next round “fourth street.” Here, each remaining player receives another card face up. The player to start this round is whoever has the highest value exposed card. They can choose to either check or bet the lower increment established, and play continues clockwise.
Now at what is called “fifth street,” players are dealt another card face up, with the individual with the highest card going first again. Bets made here now must be the larger increment of the previously established values ($4 in a $2-$4 limit game). After yet another round of betting, thus reaching “sixth street,” the same rules are followed.
Finally, players are dealt the seventh card, known as the “river.” This card is dealt face down and known only to the player that receives it. Again, whoever has the highest value exposed card begins the round until reaching full circle. If more than one player remains, what is known as the “showdown” begins. The last player to bet or raise shows his or her cards first. Remaining hands are shown around the table in a clockwise order, and the player with the best of a five-card poker hand wins the pot.
This is a game where it is crucial to pay attention to the cards of your opponents, as your goal is to achieve the best five-card poker hand possible. For example, if you potentially have a straight flush with a 5, 6, 7, and 8 all of the same suit, but you see three 9’s on the table, your best bet would be to go for a 4 of that suit if it has not already been played.
Like all poker games, learning seven-card stud takes time and patience. Continuing to play will only benefit you in becoming a better player, as you will learn more and more strategies over time.