Before taking to the table in any form of poker, it’s important to have a thorough understanding of the rules. 7 Card Stud is no exception with some twists on standard gameplay that are unique to this version.
One of the most important elements is to understand the ranking of 7 card stud hands. It’s a case of best hand wins so it’s vital to take on board just what beats what during a regular game.
Rank of High Hands
This is the key to winning and scooping the pot. We need to look at the best hand in 7 card stud and work our way down from that point. Remember, of the seven cards that are dealt, we are looking for the best five cards to form a hand.
7 card stud hands ranking, starting with the highest, is as follows:
- Straight Flush
- 4 of a Kind
- Full House
- 3 of a Kind
- Two Pairs
- A Pair
- High Card
A straight flush is a run of consecutive cards, all of which carry the same suit. 7 card stud is played with one standard deck of 52 cards so there is no scope for five of a kind in this game. A straight flush is at the top of 7 card stud hands and cannot be beaten.
4 of a kind is self explanatory and includes all four cards of the same value across the four suits.
A full house contains three of a kind and a pair.
A flush is a set of cards, of any value, all of which should come from the same suit.
A straight is a series of consecutive cards which can come via a combination of any suit.
The remaining four options, 3 of a Kind, Two Pairs, A Pair and High Card, should be self explanatory but it’s easy to find full guidelines if in any doubt.
Rank of Low Hands
Low cards are losers so why do we need to analyse them when it comes to ranking 7 card stud hands? There are two reasons for this: Firstly, there is a version of this game known as 7 Card Stud High / Low where the pot is split between the highest and the lowest hands.
Secondly, the rules of the game state that, after the third card is dealt, known as Third Street, the player with the lowest hand starts the round of betting. We therefore need to understand 7 card stud starting hands.
In 7 card stud, the ranking of the four lowest completed hands – from worst to best – is as follows:-
- 5 High – A hand consisting of 5, 4, 3, 2 and Ace of different suits
- 6 High – A mixed hand where the highest value card is a six
- 7 High – A mixed hand where the highest value card is a seven
- 8 High – A mixed hand where the highest value card is an eight
If playing the High / Low variant, these hands could yet prove to be valuable but in a regular round of 7 Card Stud, they are effectively worthless. Even with three out of the seven cards being dealt as ‘blind’ players may have folded before any of these four hands are completed.
In this version of poker, three of each player’s cards are blind while the remaining four are upturned and visible to opponents. With that in mind, it pays to take a moment to study the theory of probability and the likelihood of certain hands being formed based on the cards that you can see.
Card counting can form an important part of poker strategy and it’s not always the case that players need a solid understanding of maths before proceeding. For example, when a player has three jacks and is hoping to form a 4 of a Kind hand, this will not be possible if another player is displaying the remaining jack. If no jacks are visible, there is a greater chance that the original player has the final jack among their blind cards.
Bear in mind that classic seven card stud poker is played using a single deck of cards and that’s why it’s easy to read this particular example. From this basic equation, it can get a lot more complicated.
We’ve seen that the king of all 7 card stud hands is the Straight Flush and there are over 4,000 ways in which this can be formed. Even if a number of the cards that a player needs are visible, there will always be many more potential permutations left among the blind cards.
Moving through the hand rankings, there are over 17,000 ways in which to form a four of a kind. From here, the numbers climb dramatically and there are more than 54,000 ways in which to compile a full house.
The figures now start to stretch into the millions with over 4,000,000 ways in which to form a regular flush from a single deck of playing cards.
Other potential winning hands such as pairs and three of a kind would be easier to evaluate. With four cards upturned, there’s a greater chance that any pair or triple would be visible to all players. Remember, though, if you are looking to form one of these lower winning hands from your blind cards, the possible permutations run into many millions.
Clearly this is one of the most important aspects of any poker game and it’s vital that you understand the full 7 card stud hands ranking. Obviously, when playing at an online casino, the software or live dealer will automatically rank those hands and award the pot to the winner.
However, that automatic judgement doesn’t help when it comes to the betting rounds. If a player doesn’t understand the rankings, they could overbet on a hand that they suspect is strong when this isn’t necessarily the case.
For those reasons, it’s very important to study this guide and to fully understand the full ranking of 7 card stud hands before taking to the table.