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Seven card stud, or simply seven stud, is probably the poker game with which those who have played only in homes are most familiar. Seven stud is often the most popular game in the cardrooms of the Eastern United States and many parts of Europe. Home games often feature unusual variants of seven stud, sometimes involving wild cards and replacements. You won't find these online or in brick-and mortar cardrooms (b&ms).
As in most forms of poker, seven stud uses a standard 52-card deck. The game is played at an eight-handed table. Each new hand of seven stud begins with each player putting an ante into the pot. The ante is a payment into the pot before cards are dealt for the purpose of stimulating action. For example, in a $2/$4 limit game, the ante is 40 cents. Each player must ante each hand to receive cards. When you first sit down at a table, you get dealt in immediately, after being prompted to ante. Since seven stud does not have blinds, you do not have to wait.
In seven stud, the deal position does not rotate as in blind games. The nominal deal position is indicated by a white disk called the stud button. The stud button is always by seat 8, and each new deal always starts at seat 1. The first card of each succeeding round always goes to the first active player (one who either has equaled all the bets thus far, or has gone all in, that is, run out of chips with which to call) to the left of the stud button. If you rotate the table to change your position, the stud button also rotates. This makes it clear where the deal position is. This is important in those few situations in which two or more players have identical boards. After the first round, if hands are tied, the hand closest to the left of the stud button begins the betting.
When the antes are in place, the dealer distributes two cards face down to each player and then one card face up, starting with seat 1. The two downcards are called hole cards. Your hole cards appear face up on your screen, but don't worry; only you can see your hole cards. Only the backs of every other player's hole cards appear on screen. Every other player has a similar view, with only his own hole cards visible. You can tell which are your hole cards and which is your upcard, because the hole cards are situated lower than the upcard. You can see the upcards of all the other players, and they can see your upcard.
Seven stud, as any form of poker, is about betting. Seven stud has five betting rounds. The sizes of the bets depend on the structure of the game. All seven stud games at Full Tilt Poker are limit games. Usually the first two rounds are at one level, and the next three at double that level. There is one exception to this, in which sometimes the second round of betting is optionally at the higher level. We'll get to that in a moment. Third Street
On the first round (known as third street), the betting starts with the player having the lowest upcard. This bet is a forced bet. The bet must be at least a specified minimum, in which case it is called the bring-in, but can be more. The bring-in is usually one-fourth the lower limit. If two or more players have the same rank of upcard, who must make the bring-in is determined by suit, in reverse bridge order (clubs, diamonds, hearts, spades). This is one of the few times that suits have any bearing in poker. For example, if three deuces appear on the first round in this order, 2s, 2h, 2d, the holder of the 2d would be required to make the bring-in bet. In the picture above you have the lowest card. You must make a bet. You have two choices only. You can: open for the bring-in complete the bet, that is, increase the bet to the lower limit You choose your action by clicking in a dialog box. While you can always complete the bet, you will find players usually open for the minimum. If everyone folds, you win the antes, and the next hand is dealt. Normally everyone would not fold for a bring-in, however. If you open for the bring-in, each succeeding player has three choices: fold call, that is, match the bring-in complete the bet, that is, increase the bet to the lower limit If you or anyone else completes the bet, each succeeding player has three choices: fold call, that is, match the bring-in raise, that is, increase the preceding bet Each player in turn has the same three choices. If there has been a raise, each player who chooses to continue must either call the total bet thus far or himself raise. In any one round of betting, there can be a maximum of one bet and three raises. The bring-in plus the completion count as one bet in the first round. For example, in a $2/$4 limit game, you open for the 50-cent bring-in, another player completes the bet to $2, and then two players raise. That makes the total bet $6. This is the equivalent of three bets, and another player could make one more raise. Doing so would cap the betting for that round, that is, cause it to reach the maximum. If you fold for a raise, your cards are removed from play and no longer appear on the screen.
Fourth Street Once the betting for the round is equalized, that is, once everyone has had an opportunity either to fold or match the total betting, the dealer deals each active player a second upcard (fourth street). Players still in the hand participate in a round of betting. The betting on fourth street normally proceeds at the lower limit. The exception is that if any board shows an open pair, any player may choose to bet or raise at the higher limit. Once a bet has been made at the higher limit, subsequent raises must be at the higher limit. For example, in a $2/$4 game, the betting on fourth street normally proceeds in increments of $2. If one of the players has an open pair, that player has a choice of betting either $2 or $4. If that player bets $2, any other player can call the $2, raise $2, or raise $4. Once a bet or raise of $4 has been made, the betting must proceed in $4 increments. Specifically, if one player starts the betting at $2 in a round in which an open pair appears, and someone raises that bet by $4, you cannot reraise by $2. On fourth and all successive streets, the betting always starts with the player showing the highest board. If two or more players have the same high board, the betting begins with the player closest to the left of the stud button. In the picture, since you are closer to the stud button than the other player who holds ace-deuce, you are first to bet.
The situation is exactly the same if the tied hands are pairs. For example, if two players show 7-7, the one closer to the stud button starts the betting. In all rounds after third street, the player first to act has two choices: check, that is, make no bet make a bet at the proper limit for that round If no one bets, each player in turn has the same choices. It is possible in every round except third street for no betting to occur. No betting in a round is called being checked around. If anyone bets, each succeeding player has three choices: fold call, that is, match the bring-in raise, that is, increase the preceding bet A player who checks retains his cards. If someone bets, when the action returns, a player who previously checked has the preceding three choices. To check and then raise when the betting returns is known, reasonably enough, as check-raising. If you check with the intention of raising, you of course risk the possibility that no one will bet.
Fifth Street Once the betting for fourth street is equalized, that is, once everyone has had an opportunity either to check or match the total betting for the round, the dealer deals each active player a third upcard (fifth street). Players still in the hand participate in a round of betting. The bets on fifth street are always at the higher level.
Sixth Street Once the betting for fifth street is equalized, the dealer deals each active player a fourth upcard (sixth street). Players still in the hand participate in a round of betting. The bets on sixth street remain at the higher level.
Seventh Street Once the betting for sixth street is equalized, the dealer deals each active player a final card, face down (seventh street or the river card). Players still in the hand participate in a final round of betting. The betting proceeds exactly the same as the three previous rounds.
Showdown Once the betting for seventh street is equalized, the betting is over, and there is a showdown. Remaining active players show their cards and the best hand, comprised of the best five cards from among each player's seven, wins.