Stud poker is usually played with an ante, which is a bet required by all players that does not contribute to any following bets. In 7-Card Stud poker, up to eight players are dealt two hole cards, face down, and one card face up (a.k.a. the “door card”). The player with the lowest showing card pays the “bring in,” a bet placed at a fraction of the whole bet, to get the betting started. He may also place a complete bet. To stay in the game, the player can later complete the bring in bet or call a raise, after the other players have all had a chance to call, fold, or raise. Betting then continues clockwise; this first betting round is called 3rd street.
After one betting round is complete, the dealer will burn one card and then deal each player one more card face up, clockwise, beginning at his left (4th street). Another betting round is carried out, beginning this time with the player who has the highest ranking card or combination showing (highest possible hand showing at this point is AA). If there are two equally ranking high hands, the player closest to the dealer is the first to act and must fold, check, or bet. By this stage, all players can bet at the highest limit, which is applied to all following bets.
The process repeats until every player holds two hole cards plus four showing cards (5th and 6th street). Seventh street is then dealt face down, so each remaining player has three hidden cards and four showing cards. After the final round of betting is complete, players show their cards, the last betting player showing his hand first, and then clockwise after him. Players may show or muck their hands and the player with the best five-card hand wins.
5-Card Stud is played by the same rules as 7-Card Stud, however, there can be up to ten players, and only one card is dealt face down to players, instead of two. Also, there are only 2nd, 3rd, and 4th streets, plus the river.
7-Card Stud Hi/Lo
This poker variation, also called “eights or better,” is carried out just like 7-card stud, but the pot is split between the highest and the lowest ranking hands. In order for a player’s hand to qualify as low, he must hold five unpaired cards with values of 8 or less, and an Ace can be high or low. It is possible to hold both the best high and the best low hands (e.g. A-2-3-4-5, as a high ranking straight and as a low ranking five high). Winning the pot for both the high and the low hands is called “scooping the pot.” When there is no low ranking hand, the whole pot goes to the highest poker hand.
Razz is played in the same fashion as 7-Card Stud poker with up to eight players, but instead of the highest ranking hand being the winner, the lowest ranking hand, or the worst hand, wins the pot. Therefore, the object of the game is to make the worst or lowest five-card hand using any of your seven cards. Because neither straights nor flushes count against a hand ranking low, and Aces count as low, the lowest ranking Razz hand is A-2-3-4-5, which is also called “the bike” or “the wheel.” This is the worst possible Razz hand, or in other words, the best possible hand. Any hand can win in Razz, even hands with low pairs, though winning hands in Razz will rarely contain a pair.
A good tip to remember is that the value of your hand should be determined by considering your opponents’ cards showing. A good starting hand will often include at least an Ace or two unpaired cards with values of five or less.
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