If you are growing tired of playing Hold’em, despite its huge popularity around the world, then there are some other great games you should be trying out! One of these games is Stud, which is a game with many betting intricacies and variants that make it very popular amongst the seasoned poker playing community. With bracelet events in the WSOP in these disciplines, but usually, with far fewer players entered, Stud games also give you a chance to beat smaller fields to win big money. Let’s look at how to play Stud in its simplest form and also the different Stud games you may come across in a casino.

Types of Stud Poker

Let’s start with an understanding of all the Stud Poker games you may see. First, there are two main kinds of stud poker -5 card and 7 card. As you can imagine, one is played with 5 cards in a hand and the other with 7 cards. The difference between the two comes down the number of betting rounds in each hand, and that typically means that 5 card games can have a No-Limit component to betting while the 7 card games tend to be Limit games (fixed betting rounds).

Stud Poker Hands

As the majority of the variants we are going to discuss later are seven-card stud games, we will provide an overview of a typical seven-card hand. The game is played with no more than 7 players at a table, as the standard 52 card deck is in play. One of the main differences between Stud Poker and the games like Hold’em and Omaha is how the bets are placed. First, this is a game with Antes, so every player must put in the Ante before the cards are dealt. These Antes increase in value during a tournament to play down to a winner, while in a cash game they tend to stay the same for the entire session.

Once all the players have put in their antes, it is time to deal some cards. The dealer deals each player two cards face down and a third card, known as the Window Card, face up. Following the dealing of these cards, the player with the lowest Window Card must place the “Bring In” bet, which is the equivalent of the blinds in Hold’em and Omaha. This means that the same player may be forced to make a bet in consecutive hands, which is another difference between Stud and the other variants.

Now that the Bring In has been established, a betting round occurs, starting with the player to the left of the Bring In. This player, along with the others in the game, has the option of folding a hand, calling the bet or raising. Once all of the players have had their turn to act, then a second face-up card is dealt with all the players that remain. Another round of betting occurs, and then a 3rd face-up card is dealt to anyone left in the hand. If only one player is left at any time, they win whatever is in the pot. Yet another betting round takes place, and a final face-up card is dealt. After players bet again, the final card – a seventh in total – is dealt face down to remaining players. One final round of betting, and then it is time for the showdown between anyone still left in the hand.

As you can see, there are many rounds of betting that occur on every hand, which is why No Limit stud games don’t make a lot of sense. With seven cards to complete a 5 card hand, there are a lot of players chasing hands so there will be a lot of action in these games!

Different Variants of Seven Card Stud

At showdown, there is a winner of the hand, but the winning hand is determined by the type of game being played. Let’s look at the most common.

Seven Card Stud High

This is the most common game, and in this game, the winning hand is simply the best 5 card hand that can be made from the seven cards in a player’s hand. This follows the same hierarchy as the other poker games.

Seven Card Stud Hi/LO

IN this version of the game, each pot is split, paying half to the player who can make the best hand, and the other half going to the player who has the worst hand. This is a fun game to play as a player could win both sides of the pot with the same seven cards in their hand.

Stud Eight

This is the Hi/Lo version of the game as above, but in order to qualify for the Low hand, you have to have no card higher than an eight. It is important to remember that straights and flushes do not count against your low hand, so a hand of 87654 is still an 8 Low.


Razz is the opposite of Seven Card Stud, in that you are trying to make the absolute worst hand and that is the only hand that gets paid. This is a very popular game these days as it forces players to think about making terrible hands versus the really good ones, which makes for an entire shift of strategy.

There are many other versions of Stud Poker, but these are the ones that you are likely to find in a casino or at an online poker site.

Best places to play Stud Poker

Stud Poker tends to be a much smaller offering at online poker sites than Hold’em or Omaha, but that doesn’t mean that you can’t find a great cash game or tournament to play! We have listed some of our favorite sites for playing Stud below – each of them comes with a recommendation from our team of experts, which means you will find great Stud games along with excellent bonuses and mobile options if you want to play from your phone or tablet. We encourage you to give Stud a try as we think it’s a great alternative to Hold’em.