Seven-card stud is played with two downcards and one upcard dealt before the first betting round, followed by three more upcards (with a betting round after each card). After the last downcard is dealt, there is a final round of betting. The best five-card poker hand wins the pot.
- All players receive two cards dealt face-down (hole cards) and one card dealt face-up (upcard). The cards are dealt one at a time.
- The player with the lowest upcard has to make a bring-in bet.
- The betting continues clockwise with the player to the left of the bring-in bet.
- A fourth card is dealt face-up. The action begins with the player holding the best upcards and continues clockwise.
- A fifth card is dealt face-up. The action begins with the player holding the best upcards and continues clockwise.
- A sixth card is dealt face-up. The action begins with the player holding the best upcards and continues clockwise.
- A seventh card is dealt face-down. The action begins with the player holding the best upcards and continues clockwise.
- All remaining players make out the best possible 5-card poker hand.
- Strict hand selection (patience/discipline)
- Discipline (the ability to wait for a good hand and not chase with second-best hands)
- Good table selection (very important in all poker games)
- Paying attention to and remembering the other players' upcards
- Reading opponents
- Courage to bet/raise/call down (aggressive with draws or perceived best hands)
- Not vulnerable to go on tilt
- Playing too many starting hands.
- Not paying attention to which cards are out.
- Not folding with modest holdings.
- Not raising with premium holdings, thus letting too many drawing hands in.
- Drawing for cards that are likely to give you a second-best hand. For example, calling an opponent, who raised holding a King, with a hand like (5-5) J. Hitting two-pair in this scenario could easily make you a second-best hand.
- Paying exclusive attention to your own game and not that of your opponents. How many players are in on Fourth Street? Did someone raise on Third Street? What type of players is left in the pot? These are all questions to consider during play.
- Not aggressive enough on Third (take initiative), Fourth, and Fifth Streets (to follow through/protect hand).
- Calling all the way to the river without proper pot odds.
- Calling too often, instead of raising, when you have the best hand.
The big pairs are AA-JJ. These hands should almost always be played. The only times to fold them are when you are fairly certain that you are up against a bigger pair, or when your cards are dead (both of the other cards are already out). A pair of Jacks can also be folded when you have a bad kicker to your pair and there are many big cards left to act behind you. Another occasion when it is correct to muck your big pair is when the pot has been raised and re-raised by players with bigger upcards than your pair. For example, you hold a pair of Jacks and a King raises only to be re-raised by an Ace before it is your turn to act. Remember that a two-flush and/or a two-straight to go with your pair give additional value to the hand. Before folding your big pairs, always consider the action and the opponents giving the action. If one of your opponents pairs their door card, and you don't have a four-flush or a four-straight, it is usually correct to fold your big pair.
When deciding whether or not to play the medium pairs, always consider the following factors (the first two are the most important). If you are not in a steal position make sure all your cards are live before you decide to play:
- Do you have a strong kicker?
- What are the other upcards?
- Is the game tight or loose?
- Your hand is stronger when your pair is concealed.
- Holding a two-flush and/or two-straight gives your pair additional value.
You should generally fold your medium pairs in raised pots, unless you have a bigger kicker than the pair the raiser is representing.
When you hold a medium pair and there are no upcards higher than your pair on the board, you should almost always raise with them. If you have a strong kicker to your pair, it holds certain advantages. For example, it allows you to represent a higher pair than what you hold and it increases your chances of ending up with the best two-pair. If the pot is raised and you have a strong kicker, you should call. If the pot has been raised and re-raised, you should generally fold no matter what additional value you hold.
The way you play three-flushes very much depends on four factors:
- How high are your cards?
- How many of your cards are live?
- What is your upcard?
- What is your position?
These factors greatly affect the way this type of hand should be played. Some three-flushes play better heads-up and some play better in multi-way pots. If all your flush cards are live but none of your pair cards are, then the hand will be played better in multi-way pots. This is because you will most likely need to hit your flush in order to win the pot. This will not happen as often as winning by pairing, so you want to ensure the pot is big enough for those times you hit your flush. Remember, if all your flush cards are live the hand is almost always playable. If you have high upcards, you should almost always raise when you are first in. This strategy also works well with the ante stealing strategy as it adds deception to your play.
Three-straights are generally not as powerful as three-flushes, nonetheless, they can still be profitable hands. You must consider the following factors when deciding whether or not to play three-straights:
How high are your cards?
How many of your cards are live?
What is your upcard?
Do you also have a two-flush?
What are the other cards on the board?
Who and how many players are already involved in the pot?
How much will it cost you to play?
How well do your opponents play?
Obviously, the more factors working in your favor, the more correct it is to play the hand. When the pot has been raised and re-raised, only play three-straights if your cards are live, if you have high cards and/or a two-flush. When you hold smaller unsuited three-straights, such as (7c-8d) 9h, the most important factor to consider is how live the Sixes and T's are. In general, do not play gut-shot three-straights unless you have high cards and/or a two flush, and your gap card is live. For example, a hand like (Qs-Jc) 9d can be played if no Tens are out and it appears that you could win the pot if you paired one of your hole cards.
On average, you will be dealt rolled-up trips once in every 425 times. This is the strongest holding you can start with, though it does not necessarily mean you should always slow play the hand. In a loose game, where lots of players give action with a wide variety of hands, slow playing is almost always incorrect. A good time to slow play the hand is when you do not want to give your hand away. For example, a King raises and then an Ace re-raises, if you then re-raise with something like rolled-up deuces you announce to the table what your holding is. In this case it is better to just smooth call and reveal your true strength in later betting rounds. An exception would be if you have been making many advertising plays or have frequently re-raised with hands like three-flushes. In these cases, your hand can be played fast from Third Street onwards.
When slow playing your trips, it is usually best to wait until Fifth or Sixth Street before putting in your first raise. Such a decision should be based on what your opponents' likely holdings are, how many players are in the pot and how big the pot is.