One of the most complicated, but rewarding, of all poker games is seven-card stud. The sheer number of pos ible hands and permutations of combinations of cards makes it difficult to figure all the angles. But, then again, that’s what makes it so interesting.
After you decide on the limit of the game you want to play, there are two crucial decisions to make early in the game. The first is whether to make an initial bet after the third card is dealt, or to enter the first round of betting at the point known as “third street”. The second is whether to continue to bet when the fifth card is dealt, a point in the game known as “fifth street”. This is undoubtedly the last point you can exit the game without too much financial damage.
It’s true that every decision you make at seven-card stud can be important, and any mistake can prove costly, but by mastering the possibilities at these two crucial points in the game, you have a much better chance to come out ahead at the end of the night.
STARTING SEVEN CARDS
While most low-limit, seven-card stud games require no ante, the higher limit games frequently demand a modest ante. Before beginning play, ask the dealer about any procedures that may be unclear to you and he’ll be glad to explain the play of that particular table.
As play begins, each player is dealt two cards face down and one upcard. The lowest card will be required to open the betting, with a bet known as the “bring-in”. This player has no option, he’s required to make at least the minimum bet. If two players have the identical low card, the alphabetical order of the suits - clubs, diamonds, hearts, spades - determines who opens the betting.
The player immediately to the left of the bring-in now has the option to call the bet, to raise or to fold. If he folds or calls, the person immediately to his left has the same options. But if he raises, every player to his left must match that raise, raise further or fold. The game proceeds clockwise until every player has made his choice of how to act on that hand.
Each player receives three more cards face up, and the final card face down. There is a round of betting between each card and, in these subsequent deals, the player with the high hand has the responsibility to act first. If two hands are of equal value, the first player to the left of the dealer acts first. The betting session following the final card is known as the “river”.
At this point, the player with the high hand is not required to bet. He can “check”, which means that he’s not going to bet but pass the option to bet on to the next player. If another player makes a bet, the players remaining in the hand must at least match the bet.
A word about bets. For low-limit games, £1-£5 for example, the first player must bring in for £1, and initial bets are also for £1. Raises, on the other hand, may be from anywhere between £1 and £5.
Some games have double limits. For instance on a £2-£3 game, the bring in will be for £1, and all players must match that £1. If a raise is made, it must be for £2, at which point, all subsequent bets must be for £2, and raises must be in increments of £2. All bets and raises in the last two betting
rounds must be in increments of £5. Once again, if this is confusing while you’re playing the game, the dealer will be most helpful in explaining the betting procedures.