Stud Poker: What It Is and How To Play

Stud poker dates back to the late-1700’s and Revolutionary War, while variants of the game evolved in the years, decades and centuries to follow. Unlike some poker games you may be used to, stud is a non-positional game, meaning that the person who bets first may change from round to round based on the strength of their hole cards and unlike some more popular poker variants, some hole cards are face up. This guide will walk you through the various types of stud poker, how the rules differ from game to game, and some basic strategy and tips for each.

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stud poker

Types of Stud Poker

5 Card

Build the best five card poker hands from one down card and four face up cards. Game starts with an all-players ante and/or “bring in” followed by four rounds of betting, which is typically limited as opposed to no limit. Best hand wins the pot. Up to 10 players can participate at one time. Other 5-card stud variations included Lowball, High-Low, and High-Low with a Buy where you pay up for the fifth card.

Sample Hand

  • You and rest of players at table toss in an ante first bet, say $10
  • You receive an Ace face down, King face up
  • A round of betting occurs, you like your hand and bet $10
  • You receive a 10 of Hearts face up, like your hand and bet $10
  • You receive a second Ace face up, like your hand and bet $10
  • You receive a second King face up, like your hand and bet $10
  • If your two-pair, Ace-King, is the strongest hand among those players remaining, wins the pot

Note: each betting round typically starts with the player who is showing the best hand.

7 Card

Build the best five card poker hands from three down cards and four face up cards. Game starts with an all-players ante and/or “bring” in followed by five rounds of betting. You can play comfortably with 5-7 people without the risk of running out of cards. Other 7-card variants include Razz, High-Low, High-Low Eight or Better and High Low with declare.

7 card stud

Sample Hand

  • You and rest of players at table toss in an ante first bet, say $5
  • You receive two cards face down, 2-3, and one face up Jack
  • A round of betting occurs, you like your hand and bet $5
  • You receive a fourth card face up, a second Jack, like your hand and bet $5
  • You receive a fifth card face up, a 7, still like the pair and bet $5
  • You receive a sixth card face up, a third Jack, love the three of a kind, bet $5 (or raise)
  • You receive a seventh card face down, a 10, still love the three of a kind, bet $5 (or raise)
  • If your triple Jacks are the best hand, you win the pot

Note: each betting round typically begins starts with the player with the best hand showing.

Mississippi Stud

In an effort to make 7-card stud less clunky, Mississippi stud was recently invented and shares some Texas hold’em traits. Unlike previous variants, this is a table poker game played against the house where you are trying to build the best five-card hand via two hole cards and the dealer’s three community cards. You aren’t trying to beat other players at the table, but trying to maximize your return against the house via a paytable, like one you would find in video poker. Here’s a sample paytable:

Stud Hand Payout Odds
Full House 500-to-1
Straight Flush 100-to-1
Four-of-a-Kind 40-to-1
Full House 10-to-1
Flush 6-to-1
Straight 4-to-1
Three of a Kind 3-to-1
Two Pair 2-to-1
Jack or Better 1-to-1
Pair 6s-10s PUSH

Sample Hand

    • Begin with an ante, say $10
    • Dealer gives each player at table 2 cards face down, dealer gets three community cards
    • You receive a King-King, which automatically pays out at least 1:1
    • You can bet 1x to 3x the original ante on each “street” or betting round
    • Because your King-King automatically wins without seeing any community cards, you bet all three streets 3x ante.
    • Dealer flips over the first community card and reveals a 10

mississippi stud poker

  • Now, had you not already wagered, but the 10 improved your hand, you’d bet on what is referred to as third street, since its the third card
  • Dealer flips over the second community card, fourth street, and reveals a third King
  • You’ve already maxed out your three 3x ante bets, but you’re sitting pretty with the third King … more on that in a second
  • Dealer flips over the third and final community card and reveals a second 10
  • You hit a King-over-10’s full house, which pays 10-to-1 odds on all 3x ante bets.
  • The dealer pays out the winners

Caribbean Stud

Another casino table game, you’re playing against the house, not other poker players. It’s a casino version of 5-card stud. Each player receives five cards face down, while the dealer receives five cards, too, with one face up. The objective is to build a stronger 5-card poker hands than the dealer.

caribbean stud poker

Sample Hand

  • Before you receive your five cards, you place an ante bet
  • Dealer hands out five cards face down to players at the table
  • Dealer receives five cards with one face up
  • After reviewing your hand and determining its strength, you decide whether to play or fold
  • Let’s say you have a Ace-8-8-8-2, a three of a kind is above average hand and you stay in
  • To continue playing, you wager double the ante
  • Once all bets are in, the dealer reveals their 5 card hand to see if they qualify
    • The dealer must have Ace-King high to qualify. If they don’t, all players remaining automatically win their ante and PUSH their raise bet.
  • If the dealer has a qualifying hand of Ace-10-10-3-3, they have two pair which loses to your three-of-a-kind
  • You are paid 1-to-1 on your ante bet, while how much your win on their raise bet depends on the strength of the hand. Typically 3-of-a-kind poker hands pay out 3-to-1.

Stud Poker Strategy and Tips

Here some basic strategy tips for each stud poker variant:

  • 5 Card – It’s common practice to fold if table opponents’ up card beat both your up and face down cards.
  • 5 Card – It’s sub-optimal strategy to go chasing straights and flushes
  • 7 Card – If you believe you have a strong hand, bet strong on third betting round and smart on fourth and fifth
  • 7 Card – If your hole cards include an Ace or King, play on and if you have a pair in the hole, bet aggressively
  • Mississippi – 2x the ante bets are not practical, either fold, wager 1x or 3x
  • Mississippi – If you have a face card, raise 1x the ante
  • Caribbean – If you start with a pair or better, call or raise depending on what the dealer is showing
  • Caribbean – If you don’t have a pair and at least one face card, fold the hand

Stud Poker FAQs