Stud Poker Rules and How to Play Stud Poker Variants

Posted by James Guill . Last updated:

Although Texas Hold’em might be the most popular poker game currently, stud poker has historically been one of the most widespread games in casinos and online. The stud family contains several of the most famous poker variants, including Caribbean and Mississippi. 

Read our expert guide to stud poker rules, variants, and more to learn how to play this incredibly popular poker game online!

Where to Play Stud Poker Online

Here are the USA online casinos and online poker rooms our team of experts recommend players use for playing stud online:

Stud Poker Rules

The basic stud poker rules are universal, regardless of which particular variant you’re playing. In stud games, you will be dealt some cards face-up (which all players can see) and some face-down (which only you can see). The objective remains the same: to create the strongest hand possible to beat your fellow players.

Although every stud variant has its own particular rules, these basics are shared by all stud types.

Types of Stud Poker

There are four main types of stud poker you should be on the lookout for when you are playing at online poker rooms, or at online casinos. As with all poker variants, each game is slightly different and have their own intricacies which players will need to learn in order to be successful.

Mississippi Stud

In Mississippi Stud, each hand starts with an ante. Once a player has anted, they’ll be dealt two face-down hole cards, and three face-down community cards. At this point, each player must choose whether to fold – forfeiting their ante – or raising.

If the player raises, the dealer reveals the first of three community cards. There is another fold-or-raise round of betting. If the player remains active, these rounds continue until all three community cards are face-up.

If the player remains active once all community cards have been revealed, they make the best possible five-card poker hand, comprised of the three community cards and the player’s two hole cards. The player’s payout will depend on the paytable for that version of Mississippi stud poker.

Mississippi Stud Payout

While payouts may vary from casino-to-casino and game-to-game, here’s a sample Mississippi Stud payable:

Hand Example Payout
Royal Flush royal flush 500:1
Straight Flush straight flush 100:1
Four of a Kind four of a kind 40:1
Full House full house 10:1
Flush flush 6:1
Straight straight 4:1
Three of a Kind cards-three-of-kind 3:1
Two pair cards-two-pair 2:1
Pair of Jacks of Better cards-one-pair 1:1
Pair of 6s – 10s five playing cards - two 8s, a 3, a 9, and a jack Push
All other five playing cards, all different Loss

Caribbean Stud

In Caribbean Stud, players play against the dealer – and the dealer alone – to make the best five-card hand.

Each round of Caribbean Stud begins with the player placing their ante. At some casinos, players also have the option of whether or not to buy in to a progressive jackpot attached to the game.

Once players have placed their ante bets, both they and the dealer will be dealt five cards. All of the player’s five cards will be face down, while one of the dealer’s five will be face up.

At this point, players choose whether to fold – sacrificing their ante – or play, in which case they must raise a fixed amount, typically twice the value of the ante. If the player raises and remains active in the game, both players reveal their cards.

In order for the dealer to qualify, their hand must include at least an ace and a king or a pair or better.

  • If the dealer qualifies, and the player’s hand wins, they receive 1:1 payout on their ante, plus a pre-determined amount on their raise
  • If the dealer qualifies, and the dealer’s hand wins, the dealer keeps all of the player’s wagers
  • If the dealer does not qualify, ante bets are paid 1:1, and the raises push
  • If the dealer qualifies, and they tie the player’s hands, all bets push

Caribbean Stud Payout

Again, if the dealer qualifies and the player’s hand is higher, the player receives two payouts:

  • Ante bets are returned 1:1
  • Raise bets are paid out at a pre-determined value set by the game’s paytable. Be sure to check your game for specifics, but a typical table looks like this:
Hand Example Payout
Royal flush royal flush 100:1
Straight flush straight flush 50:1
Four of a kind four of a kind 20:1
Full house full house 7:1
Flush flush 5:1
Straight straight 4:1
Three of a kind cards-three-of-kind 3:1
Two pair cards-two-pair 2:1
One pair cards-one-pair 1:1
High card five playing cards, all different 1:1

7 Card Stud Poker

Each hand of 7 card stud poker begins with each player being dealt three cards – two face-down, and one face-up. Initial betting action begins with the player who is showing the lowest-ranking card and proceeds clockwise around the table until all bets are in.

The game then proceeds with each player being dealt individual cards, interspersed with rounds of betting, until each player has been dealt seven cards. Cards four, five, and six are dealt face-up, while the seventh and final card is dealt face-down.

By the time each player has received all of their cards, they should have a total of seven cards – three facedown, and four face-up. At this point, all remaining players reveal their facedown cards, and the best five-card poker hand wins the pot.

5 Card Stud Poker

In 5 card stud poker, the player’s goal is to build the best possible five card poker hand using only cards that he or she is dealt. Unlike in similar stud games, there are no shared community cards – rather, just a mix of face-up and face-down hole cards.

The game begins with each player being dealt two cards each – one face-up and one face-down. Typically, 5 card stud is played with a small ante and a bring in, meaning the player with the lowest-value face-up card must place a small wager. From there, betting proceeds clockwise around the table.

For the remainder of the game, players are dealt one face-up card each, followed by a betting round, until each player has five total cards – one face-down, and four face-up. As in other games, these deal & betting rounds are known as third, fourth and fifth street, respectively.

Once each player has been dealt all five cards, all active players reveal their face-down card, and the player with the best poker hand wins the pot.

It’s important to note that 5 card stud can be played with a number of variations. Be sure to check your specific casino & table to ensure you understand the specific rules of the game you’re playing.

Here are rules for a typical game of five card stud:

  • The game follows a small ante & bring-in betting structure
  • It is a no limit game, meaning players can place wagers of any size that their bankroll allows. Pot limit, fixed limit, & spread limit games are also available.
  • Games are generally played for high hands, meaning traditional poker hand values determine ranking. However, games can be played for low hands, in which the player’s goal is to secure the hand with the lowest


Razz poker puts a unique twist on poker. Rather than the strongest hand winning the pot, it’s actually the weakest hand that wins the pot!

Razz poker is challenging as it forces players to think in a completely different way, often acting against years of experience from other traditional poker games.

Stud Poker Strategy

Below are some proven basic strategies for each stud variant. As always, with all games, our main strategy recommendation is to set a bankroll strategy, and stick to it.

The best thing you can do, both for your winning record and your enjoyment, is to ensure you’re playing with the right amount of money. Don’t chase losses, don’t bet emotionally, and never bet more than you can afford to lose

5 Card Stud Strategy

  • Consider folding if opponents’ up card beat both your up and face down cards.
  • Don’t chase straights and flushes.
  • Having an ace in the hole is the best possible (including pairs).

7 Card Stud Strategy

  • Be selective about your starting hand – if you don’t like your hand, and you can get out for free, fold.
  • If you believe you have a strong hand, bet strong on third betting round and smart on fourth and fifth.
  • If your hole cards include an Ace or King, play on. If you have a pair in the hole, bet aggressively.

Mississippi Stud Strategy

  • Avoid 2x ante bets- either fold, wager 1x or 3x the ante.
  • If you have a face card, raise 1x the ante.

Caribbean Stud Strategy

  • If you start with a pair or better, call or raise depending on what the dealer is showing.
  • If you don’t have a pair and at least one face card, fold the hand.

Stud Poker FAQs

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Cliff Spiller


Cliff Spiller is a veteran casino writer with decades of experience under his belt. He's played at –and reviewed– countless of online casinos, and has written dozens of casino game guides. His strategy articles, and gambling news updates have been a fixture in the industry since 2004. A native of North Texas, Cliff is a long-suffering Dallas Cowboys fan. He enjoys sports and games of all sorts, including sports betting.

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