Stud poker is a card game that has been played for hundreds of years. There are many different variations of Stud poker with some being casino games and others being player vs. player. For a game to qualify as a Stud poker game, players have to be dealt a mixture of facedown (hole cards) and face up cards. In Stud poker the players with the best strategy's will win in the long-term but short term anyone can get lucky and win which makes Stud poker fun for everyone to play.
History of Stud poker
Stud poker has been played for over a hundred years. The first type of Stud poker on record is 5 card Stud poker which is documented as being popular amongst soldiers fighting in the American civil war. Ironically the game was heavily played by soldiers on both sides, maybe they should have dropped their arms and decided the war over a friendly game of poker instead!
7 card Stud poker has since become the dominant form of Stud poker and before the Texas holdem poker boom was actually the most played poker game. Stud poker and its many spawn offs are now played by millions of people in casinos all around the globe. Online casinos and online poker rooms have made the game easily accessible for anyone wanting to play and test their skills versus other players or players who simply want to gamble versus the house.
Stud poker rules
As there are many forms of Stud poker I will first focus on the 7 card Stud poker rules as it is the most popular form and one of the original Stud poker variants.
All participating players are required to post an ante which is a pre-determined amount of chips. The ante is designed to inflate the pot to encourage action and make the game more fun. 7 card Stud poker continues with each player receiving 3 cards. 2 cards are dealt face down (hole cards) while one is exposed for all to see. The player with the lowest valued exposed card will post the 'bring-in'. The bring in is another forced bet which encourages action designed to make the poker game more exciting. The bring in is a pre-determined amount, the player posting the bring in can decide to post half the amount or the full amount depending on how much he fancies his cards.
After the bring in has been posted all players get the chance to either bet/fold/call/check depending on their own Stud poker strategy and how they rate the strength of their Stud poker hand. Players will have to at least call the bring in bet to continue, although if they like their hand they can raise the stakes which other players will have to match if they want to continue. If you don't like your hands chances you can fold and wait for a better one but all chips committed to the pot will be forfeited to the eventual winner.
Once the bring in round has finished the next stop is 'third street'. All players still left in the hand will be dealt one more exposed card. Whoever has the highest ranked exposed cards at this point gets to act first and lead the round of betting. In Stud poker the betting amounts are fixed depending on the stakes being played but if a pair is showing then you are able to raise the stakes and bet twice the betting allowance. It is important to remember the Stud poker game rules only allow this on 3rd street.
Fourth/fifth street is the same as third street. Each player will be dealt another exposed card and the player with the highest ranking hand opens the betting and the chance to act goes around the table.
The last street in Stud poker, like Texas holdem poker, is known as the river. All participating players still left in the hand will be dealt their final card. Unlike the other streets this card will be dealt face down. Each player should now have a total of 7 cards with 3 being face down and 4 face up. The last and final betting round commences and then the showdown decides who wins the pot. Players flip their cards and whoever has the highest ranked 5 card poker hand will take all the chips in the pot.
Stud poker strategy
In Stud poker, having a solid strategy is crucial to maximise your edge. A good Stud poker strategy involves tight hand selection and aggressive positional play. It is also important to observe how your opponents are playing. This means whenever playing Stud poker you should constantly be aware of what is going on at the poker table. If your opponents took a bad beat on the last hand he might be on tilt and playing poorly, this is a player you can potentially exploit to win his chips. If a usually poor Stud poker player is on a card rush and up a lot of money, he may decide to play more reserved then usual so always notice what it going on around the poker table and adjust your Stud poker strategy accordingly.
Hand selection - Stud poker strategy
Hand selection in Stud poker is crucial to any thinking players strategy. If you are playing to many poor hands, other players can exploit this by being patient and tightening up their own range of hands. Although Playing too tight will mean your chip stack slowly dwindles thanks to the antes and bring in bets so the key is to find a happy medium.
In Stud poker, trips is the best possible starting hand. With trips you should raise/re-raise as much as possible to build the pot as big as you can. This is to charge draws and weaker hands that are determined to continue. Pairs are the next best starting hands. I would make it my standard play to raise with all pairs but I would be careful with small pairs. If someone re-raises you there is a strong possibility they have a stronger pair or maybe even trips.
Drawing hands are a big element of any Stud poker game and you must adapt your Stud poker strategy to consider this. If your starting hand contains 3 cards of the same suit this is a strong drawing hand as you only need two more to complete the flush. If you are dealt 3 connected cards (for example, 7-8-9) it is worth drawing to the potential straight. It is important to play these potential flush and straight hands as if you bust someone's big pair/trips you can win a big pot.
In Stud poker when you have the highest exposed card you can use this to try and aggressively take down the pot regardless of your other cards. If you have an ace exposed and the other players cards are low cards, a bet or raise can get them to fold their hands and surrender their chips. Obviously if someone is playing back at you they most likely have a big hand so don't take it to far.
If you are new to Stud poker I would advise to play pairs/trips/big draw hands only. Once you have got some hours logged at the online or live casino you can start to open up your Stud poker game strategy. Once you feel comfortable with the Stud poker rules and basic Stud poker strategy you can start playing weaker hands in position and even throwing in the odd bluff here and there but for starters I would advise a tight/solid Stud poker game strategy.