Stud Poker

The most popular poker game worldwide until Texas Hold ’em took over; Stud was the game that avid poker players played in almost every casino that hosted poker during the 70s and 80s. Despite not having the same level of action compared to the fast-paced, big bet nature of Texas Hold ’em, Stud was the favored game amongst amateurs and professionals for many years.

While you’ll struggle to see a casino run a Stud game nowadays, plenty of people play it online, and it is a staple in any mixed game. However, those under 40 may not have come across the game before, so we’re here to give you a full breakdown of how the game works so that you can feel comfortable showing up to your next mixed game.


If you roughly remember how to play, but need are a bit fuzzy on some rules, here’s a quick rundown of the rules of Stud poker. We’re going to be focusing on Stud High as that’s the most common variant that people play; we’ll dive into some of the other variants further down the page. Don’t worry if you’re a complete Stud newbie; we’ll give you a much more detailed explanation later on in the article.


Before the cards are dealt, each player antes roughly the equivalent of ¼ the small bet (the exact amount will vary depending on the stakes you play). The dealer then deals the cards one at a time, starting with the player to the dealer’s immediate left. The first two cards a player receives are face down, and the third card each player receives is dealt face up. This is called the “door” card.

Bring In

The player with the lowest up-card must act first, and they have two choices. They can “bring in,” which is to bet the smallest amount possible (often equivalent to the ante), or they can “complete,” which is to bet the amount of the small bet. This player must choose one of the two options; they cannot surrender their hand at this stage. Once the first player has made their decision, the betting action moves clockwise around the table, starting with the player to the left of the bring-in.


Once the betting round is completed, another card is dealt face up to each player remaining in the hand. The player with the highest showing hand must act first on all subsequent streets. There is another betting round, and any remaining players get dealt a fifth card face-up. On this street, the betting limits increase from small to big bets. Another round of betting takes place, and the remaining players are dealt a sixth card face up. After the sixth card, there is another round of betting, and any remaining players are dealt a seventh card face down.


There is a final round of betting, and any remaining players must showdown their hand. The best five-card poker hand wins the pot when the players turn their whole hand face-up. In the event of a tie, the pot is split evenly between all players holding the equivalent hand.

For those of you who have never played a hand of Stud before, that must have sounded not very clear! However, never fear; we’re here to give you a much deeper explanation of how to play Stud poker.

Betting Limits

The betting limits are the first thing we need to discuss when it comes to Stud poker. The only betting limits that are used in Stud are fixed limits. Some home games may allow Pot Limit or No Limit Stud, but those are in the minority.

When you play Stud, there are four betting amounts – the ante, the bring-in, the small bet, and the big bet. The small bet is half the size of the big bet, and the bring-in is usually a quarter of the size of the small bet. The ante can sometimes be the equivalent of the bring-in, though it is smaller in some games (notably higher stakes games). This is why the most common stakes you’ll see for Stud are $4/$8, as that allows for a $1 bring-in/ante.

At the start of the game, each player that wants to be dealt in is required to post an ante. The player with the lowest up-card is then required to make a bet, either the bring-in or if their hand is strong enough, a small bet.

The betting limits in Stud are fixed, meaning you can only bet or raise the amount dictated for that street. The small bets are used for 3rd and 4th street, and on 5th street, the limits are doubled, meaning players must use big bets when betting or raising for the remaining betting rounds.


There are many different variants of Stud poker, as it was most popular during a time when casinos weren’t as homogenized in their rules as they are today. The variants we’re going to cover are all that have been played in casinos and can still be played to this day. However, be aware that plenty of other variants, each with their own rule set, have been played in home games.

Start of Game

Stud poker is considered an “ante” game, meaning that each player must put a small amount of money into the pot before the game begins. This generates action and gives the players something to fight for. As there is no dealer button to denote where to deal the cards, the dealer always starts the deal with the player to their immediate left.

The cards are dealt one at a time and are dealt clockwise around the table. The first two cards are dealt face down (called the “hole cards”), and the third card is dealt face up (called the “up-card”).

You can play stud poker with a maximum of eight players. The math wizards among you may realize that the math doesn’t work out there (8 x 7 = 56; plus four burn cards makes 60), but a special rule is in place to allow the games to run eight-handed. Usually, it wouldn’t be an issue, as most players will fold before 7th street, but in the event of all eight players remaining in the hand until 7th street, the last card is dealt face up in the middle of the table as a seventh communal card that all players can use to make their hand. Of course, unless you’re in an amazingly soft Stud game, you’re not going to see this rule in action.

Betting Rounds

There are five betting rounds to Stud Poker, the most among the games played in a casino. The first betting round works slightly differently from the rest, as with most forms of poker. There is a betting round after the first three cards are dealt, then another betting round after each subsequent card is dealt. This continues until each player has been dealt a total of seven cards.


Also referred to as the Bring In, on this street the player with the lowest up-card is required to make the first bet. This player has two options, they can bet the smallest amount possible (a ‘bring in”), or they can wager a full small bet. Almost all players elect just to bet the bring-in amount, as their hand is often weak due to their low upcard.

The play then moves clockwise around the table, with the player to the left of the bring-in next to act. This player has three options:

  1. Fold – The player does not put any additional money into the pot, but they surrender their hand.
  2. Complete – The player matches the amount of the small bet.
  3. Raise– The player increases the bet to double the small bet amount.


After the betting round on 3rd street is complete, the dealer will burn the top card of the deck before dealing each remaining player one additional card face up. This is the protocol for each card until 7th street. After the fourth card has been dealt to each remaining player, the next betting round (often called 4th street) begins.

Each subsequent betting round from here on in starts with the player who has the best up cards showing. The “best” is determined by poker hand strength, with a pair being stronger than no pair, ace high being stronger than king high, etc.

The player with the best up cards can decide to bet, or they can check. If they bet, they must use the small bet sizing as that is the betting limit for 4th street. If the player decides to check, the player does not put any chips in the middle, and the betting action moves to the player on their left.


Once the fifth card has been dealt to all remaining players, the 5th street betting round starts. Again, the player with the best up cards is required to act first, so pay attention, as it may not be the same player as 4th street.

This is the first street where the “big bet” betting limits are introduced, so any bets and raises must be made using the big bet amount. Each player has the same options as on 4th street, and the betting round is considered complete when the three previous criteria are met.


The 6th street betting round begins after the sixth card has been dealt to the remaining players. Remember to check to see who has the best up cards as it may have changed from 5th street.

Each player has the same options as the previous streets, and the betting round is considered complete when any of the three previous criteria are met.


The final betting round occurs after the seventh card has been dealt. Whereas all previous cards have been dealt face-up, the seventh card is dealt face down. This means that the player who was first to act on 6th street will be the same person to act first on 7th street.

The mechanics of the street remain the same, with players having the same options available and the betting round ending in the same way. However, if more than one person remains in the hand at the end of this betting round, the players must “showdown” their cards to see who wins the pot.


If there are two or more people in the hand after the 7th street betting round has ended, a winner must be determined to see who takes the pot. To do this, all remaining players turn their hands face up, and the player with the best five-card poker hand wins. Players can choose any five cards from the seven they’ve been dealt, but they cannot use more than five.

In live poker, players are often reluctant to be the first to turn their hand face up at showdown. This is because they want to hide as much information as possible from their opponents, and revealing their hole cards gives their opponents an insight into how they play. Luckily, to make things smoother, there is a set order in which players must show their hands.

The player who makes the last aggressive action on 7th street is obligated to show their hand first when they get to showdown. If the other players in the hand can beat it, they can turn their hand over to claim the pot. If the other players can’t beat it, they can muck their hands without having to show their hole cards. Note that to claim the pot, a player must show all their cards, even the ones they’re not using, to make their five-card poker hand. If there is no aggressive action on 7th street, the player to the left of the dealer is usually the first player that is obligated to show their hand, though this varies from casino to casino.

There are ten different hand rankings in Stud poker, and we’ve listed them below in descending order from best to worst:

  • Royal Flush – The cards T, J, Q, K, and A, all of the same suit. (AhKhQhJhTh)
  • Straight Flush – Any five cards in order, all of the same suit (5c6c7c8c9c)
  • 4 of a Kind – Four cards of the same rank (AcAdAhAsKc)
  • Full House – Three cards of the same rank with two other cards of the same rank (QcQhQs9s9h)
  • Flush – Any five cards of the same suit (QhTh7h5h2h)
  • Straight – Five cards in order but of different suits (3c4s5h6h7c)
  • Three of a Kind– Three cards of the same rank (JhJcJs9c2c)
  • Two Pair– Two sets of two different cards of the same rank (AcAsKcKh7s)
  • One Pair– Two cards of the same rank (JcJhAc9s6h)
  • High Card – No cards of the same rank (AcJh8s6c4h)

Some of you may have noticed that all of the examples use five cards, even if the hand itself doesn’t require five cards to be made. This is because if two or more players have a hand of the same ranking, the secondary cards are used to determine a winner. Let’s look at an example.

These are the hands of two players who get to showdown.

Player A – AcAd9d8sJc4d9c
Player B – 9h9sKd2hAsAh3c

In this example, both players have the same hand ranking (two pair), and both players have the same hand strength within that ranking (aces and nines). In cases like this, the fifth card is used to determine the winner, with the player having the highest card being the winner. You can see that Player A’s highest card is a jack, whereas Player B’s highest card is a king, meaning that Player B wins the hand.

If more than one player has the same hand ranking, the pot is split evenly between all players with the same hand. In the event of an odd-numbered pot, the pot should be split as evenly as possible, with the spare chip going to the player to the left of the dealer.


Stud poker may not have the same popularity it once did, but that doesn’t mean the poker world has ultimately passed it by. Many players still play Stud variants as part of a mixed game and are heavily featured in WSOP events. They’re a lot of fun to play once you get the hang of them, and they’re entirely different from any other form of poker you’ll have played before. The key to being a great all-around poker player is knowing how to play all the games well, and if you want to mix it with the best of them in Bobby’s Room, you need to have a strong Stud game.

Did this article deal you a winning hand?

Jackpot! You’ve flopped a winning hand! This article has surely added some extra chips to your stack. Tune in for more valuable insights and pro-level strategies!

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Jordan conroy


Jordan Conroy, a respected name in the online poker arena, has cultivated his authority through years of dedicated play and content creation. Since 2020, he has earned a stellar reputation for his in-depth analysis of poker theory and his ability to keep a finger on the pulse of the latest developments in the poker world.

Jordan’s dedication to staying at the forefront of poker knowledge allows him to consistently deliver top-quality content that resonates with both novice players and seasoned professionals.

Beyond his poker expertise, he brings a diverse perspective, closely following other competitive domains like soccer, snooker, and Formula 1, enriching his insights and providing a comprehensive understanding of the gaming landscape.

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