Seven Card Stud
One of the great poker staple games, its popularity is exceeded perhaps only by Texas Hold ‘em.
Number of Players
2-7 per 52 card deck
A standard deck of 52 playing cards, jokers removed.
Each player is dealt 2 face-down “hole” cards, and 1 face-up card to start.
Once the deal is complete, there is a round of betting which opens with the player showing the highest value face-up card. When the betting resolves, the dealer deals one more face-up card to each player (this is sometimes called “Fourth Street”). There is another round of betting, this time opening with the player showing the best two-card combination (it may still just be the highest card showing, but any pair beats a high card). Betting resolves and another face-up card is dealt to each player (Fifth Street). Best three cards showing opens the next round of betting, and one final face-up card is dealt to each player (Sixth Street). One more round of betting (best hand showing opens), and the dealer deals one last card…this one face-down to each player. There is a final round of betting (beginning with the player who opened on Sixth Street), and the players show down their cards.
The pot is won by the player who can form the best 5-card poker hand out of all seven of their cards.
Several variations of seven card stud exist, some of them quite popular. Some are even paired with other games for large tournaments where the game being played changes with every full revolution the deal makes around the table (like “H.O.R.S.E.” which stands for “Hold ‘em, Omaha, Razz, Seven Card Stud, and Eight or Better”).
Razz is functionally exactly the same as Seven Card Stud, except instead of trying for the highest ranking poker hand, players are trying for the lowest possible hand. Straights and flushes have no effect on the strength of the hand (good or bad), so the best possible hand in Razz is A, 2, 3, 4, 5 (with aces counting as low). This is also known as the “wheel.” The only other difference comes in the betting, where the player with the highest card showing on the opening deal must lead off with a forced bet (which is called “bringing in”). On all subsequent rounds of betting, the lowest showing hand leads off.
High/Low Eight or Better
This is a version of Seven Card Stud where the pot is split between the player with the highest ranking poker hand, and the player with the lowest. Unlike Razz, however, not just any low hand can win. To qualify for a low hand, a player must be able to make a 5-card hand with no pairs and no card higher than an 8. A key difference is that a players cards may be used for both a high hand and a low hand (example, if the 7 cards are: 8, 8, 8, 2, 4, 6, 7…the player may use 8, 8, 8, 7, 6 for their high hand, and 2, 4, 6, 7, 8 for the low). Aces may be high or low, and for low hands, flushes and straights do not count (therefore, if you had A, 2, 3, 4, 5 all in one suit you would have the best possible low hand, as well as a straight flush for the high hand). If no player can make a qualified low hand, the best high hand takes the whole pot. In the event that a player has the best high and the best low, that player takes the whole pot or “scoops”. The forced bet is placed on the player with the lowest showing card on the deal, and afterward reverts to normal Seven Card Stud rules (with high hands betting first).
Chase the Queen
This is a variant involving wild cards that has been gaining popularity at many a home poker night. Queens are always wild, but it’s the next rule that makes the game truly interesting. If a queen comes face-up in a players hand, then the very next card dealt face-up on that same hand is also wild (example, a player is dealt a face-up Queen, followed by a face-up 4. All queens and all 4s are now wild). It gets even more exciting if another face-up queen is dealt, for the next face-up card on that hand will become wild and eradicate the previous wild card (so if someone is dealt a queen followed by a 10, 4s are no longer wild, but 10s are). If a queen is dealt as the last face-up card (before the final face-down card) no further wild cards are created. Be prepared to see a lot of high ranking hands in this game!