What is Stud Poker?
The term stud poker refers to poker games where players are dealt both face-up and face-down (or ‘hole’) cards. The number of cards dealt can vary depending on which variant you’re playing. Seven-card stud and five-card stud players, for example, have seven and five cards dealt respectively at the end of a round.
The aim of the game is to put together the best hand possible before the showdown. As with most types of poker, that means trying to match up cards of the same or ascending value or suit. The only exception to this is razz, where it’s the lowest hand rather than the highest that wins the pot.
Stud poker is a relatively easy game to learn which makes it ideal for newbies and seasoned poker pros. We’ll look at all the ins and outs of stud poker rules in more detail below so you can get a real feel for this exciting game.
Bonuses & Promotions
The majority of top poker sites offer bonuses for new and returning players. Here are a few of the most common ones you’ll find:
Match bonuses are a very common welcome bonus for new players. For example, a casino might award a 100% match bonus on deposits of up to $500. This means that a deposit of $500 would generate $500 of bonus cash. We recommend checking the T&Cs on welcome bonuses as there will be some wagering requirements involved.
Free Play / Freerolls
Sometimes just making a minimum deposit is enough to secure a promotion. Likewise, it’s easy to find freerolls; these cost nothing to enter but come with cash and sometimes tournament tickets as prizes.
These are essentially welcome bonuses but aimed at returning players. They’re not usually as large as welcome bonuses. However, they are designed to be comparable enough that you will stick around, rather than sign up with a new site instead.
How to Play Stud Poker
Stud poker has plenty of variations but the basics of how to play poker remain the same.
We thoroughly recommend looking more closely at the rules of the specific variant you plan to play before jumping in, but here’s the jist:
Once you have made your first bet, you’re dealt your first card(s). In five-card stud, for example, this is one face-up card and one face-down card.
You are then dealt additional cards, followed by a round of betting each time.
After the last card has been dealt – the river – there’s a final chance to bet before the winner of the round is determined.
Stud Poker Rules
The most obvious difference between stud poker and other forms of poker is the sheer volume of information you have available about your opponents’ hands. That’s down to the way the cards are dealt. By dealing face-up and hole cards, you can calculate gameplay and bet accordingly. But so can your opponents.
The game is perfect for those who can think on their feet quickly, whether that’s a new player or those with more experience.
Maximum bet and pot amounts are more common in stud poker than in other forms of the game. This can be both a blessing and a curse. While it limits the amount you can lose in a single round, it puts a ceiling on how far you can push an opponent when you have a great hand.
Bluffing is something of an art form at the best of times. But it’s even trickier to get right in stud poker, especially as you can see some of your opponents’ cards – and they can see yours.
For example, let’s say a player is showing a pair but placing bets like they have three of a kind. If you’ve seen the other two cards of that value elsewhere on the table, then you know that can’t be the case.
If you’re making the switch from Texas hold‘em to stud poker, we recommend playing poker online for free in practice mode first. It will help you to really get a feel for exactly how stud poker rules work for different variants.
Stud Poker Hands
Five of a Kind: Five cards of the same rank (e.g., Q, Q, Q, Q, Joker). Only possible if wild cards are in play.
Royal Flush: A, K, Q, J, 10, all the same suit.
Straight Flush: Five cards in sequence (e.g., 3, 4, 5, 6, 7), all the same suit.
Four of a Kind: Four cards of the same rank (e.g., 9, 9, 9, 9).
Full House: Three cards of the same rank and a pair (e.g., 3, 3, 3, K, K).
Flush: Any five cards, not in sequence, of the same suit.
Straight: Five cards in sequence (e.g., 2, 3, 4, 5, 6) but not in the same suit.
Three of a Kind: Three cards of the same rank.
Two Pair: Two cards of one rank and two cards of another.
Pair: Two cards of the same rank.
Stud Poker Terminology
Fortunately for new players, stud poker doesn’t have a ton of complicated terminology to familiarize yourself with before you can start playing.
That being said, you might find the following terms useful during play:
|Ante||Players must all make an initial bet to participate in the hand|
|Bring-in||The player with the lowest up-card must place a preliminary bet to “bring in” the action|
|Dealer||The player who deals the cards|
|Down-card||This is a card that’s dealt face-down, but can be looked at by the player it’s dealt to|
|Hole||Another name for a down-card|
|Limit||Unlike in Texas hold‘em, which is regularly played without any maximum bets, stud poker is often played with bet and pot limits in place|
|Position||A player’s place at the table influences how early or late they’ll be betting in a round.|
|Street||Indicates how many cards have been dealt (e.g., on fourth street all players will have four cards in total)|
|Up-card||This is a card that’s dealt face-up so, by definition, all players at the table can see it|
How to Win Stud Poker
One of the most important things to remember when playing stud poker is how much information about your opponents’ hands you have at your disposal. While bluffing is still a possibility, you should always be trying to build a reasonable picture of how strong their hands are.
You can use this information and the way they’re betting – particularly valuable the later you’re betting in the round – to help you figure out the course of action you want to take.
As with any poker game, it’s best not to stay in a hand that you’re not confident you can win. With stud poker, your face-up cards will likely make it clear that you’re limping in and hoping for the best meaning that you could be betting more than you bankrolled for.
Know the Rules
Before you make the jump to playing real money stud poker, make absolutely sure that you know the rules of your chosen variant. Even seven-card stud, for example, has a number of different rule tweaks you might encounter when playing stud poker online.
We’ve done the hard work for you and provided the key things to look out for when playing some of the most popular forms of stud poker.
Play Other Stud Poker Games
There are several different variants of free and real money stud poker available, both online and in brick-and-mortar poker rooms. It’s worth trying a few of these out, as there are some significant differences between them. These variants include how many cards are involved, whether you’re playing against the house or other players, and how best to win.
We’re sure that as you test out different variations, you’ll start to get a feel for which one best suits your style of play.
Below, we explain the rules of the most popular types of stud poker rules you’ll find:
Caribbean Stud Poker
Caribbean stud poker, sometimes called casino stud poker, is most often played against a dealer rather than other players.
Players make an initial bet and are dealt five cards. The dealer is also dealt five cards, with one face-up, and players decide whether to fold or raise. The dealer’s hand must contain at least an ace and a king to qualify, with initial bets being returned and raises being pushed if they don’t.
The game offers a nice way for players to get a little more familiar with stud poker play without the pressures of playing against other people.
Mississippi Stud Poker
Like Caribbean stud poker, this game is played against the house rather than other players. A key difference between these two variants, however, is that Mississippi stud sees player hands being compared with a payout table rather than a dealer’s hand.
If that concept sounds familiar, it’s because the game ultimately plays a bit like video poker. However, Mississippi stud players get multiple opportunities to raise or fold their hand based on their instincts.
Ultimately, it’s a good way to get a feel for stud poker without the pressure of having to stake real money against other players if you don’t feel comfortable doing so just yet. And there are plenty of opportunities to play Mississippi stud poker online in practice mode.
Razz Stud Poker
If you’ve played seven-card stud then you’ll already have a pretty good idea of how to play razz poker. The key difference here is that the aim of razz is to put together the lowest hand possible. In other words, A-2-3-4-5 is the best hand you can get.
Players are dealt seven cards in total, a mixture of face-up and face-down cards, and must construct a hand of five cards. Ideally, a hand that would, in just about any other poker variant, be a losing one for sure.
The game is an interesting take on stud poker. However, trying to put together a hand that would usually be considered bad does take a bit of practice, especially if you’re used to more traditional poker variants.
Five-Card Stud Poker
Five-card stud might be the second-most popular form of stud poker behind seven-card stud.
Players are initially dealt two cards, one face-up and one face-down, with all additional cards being dealt face-up. This means that, by the end of a round, all players will have a hand consisting of one hole card and four facing up – giving the player the five cards from the name.
For those who are used to draw poker or games with community cards, having so many cards facing upwards can be a little disconcerting. However, once you get into the swing of the game, you’ll find it’s ideal for beginners and old pros alike.
Seven-Card Stud Poker
There are many who would argue that we’ve saved the best for last. In fact, until the rise of Texas hold‘em, seven-card stud was one of the most popular forms of poker in the USA.
As the name suggests, players are dealt seven cards each by the end of a round. Initially, players are dealt three cards each: two face-down and one face-up. From here, players are dealt three more up-cards – with betting rounds in between – and a final down-card.
From these cards, players must make the best five-card hand they can. Obviously, the extra down cards the game has compared with five-card stud offers players a little more flexibility and opportunities to bluff.
Why is it called stud poker?
There’s no obvious reason in its gameplay that explains stud poker’s curious name. However, it’s widely believed that the name comes from an old card game in which a player wagered his stud thoroughbred horse as collateral.
What is the difference between stud poker and draw poker?
Most types of poker fall into the category of either stud or draw poker. In draw poker players don’t see their opponents’ cards until the showdown while in stud poker, players see some of their opponents’ cards as the round unfolds making bluffing and betting more exciting.
Is stud poker legal to play online?
Playing stud poker online will depend on the state you’re in. If real money stud poker is not available in your state, check out the wide range of free stud poker and other free poker games we have on offer.
Can I play stud poker in a casino?
Yes, many brick-and-mortar casinos have poker rooms where you can pit your skills against other players. If that’s not the case in your area, try Caribbean stud poker – sometimes called casino stud poker – and play against the house instead.