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7-Card Stud Poker alias Down the River

An exciting, tough and very popular variation of Poker is how the Seven-Card Stud could be briefly characterized. The origin of the game was inspired by the classic Five-Card Stud and perhaps Seven-Card Stud was invented to make the game more complex and interesting.

If you are a beginner I recommend starting with general rules of Poker and classic Poker Draw (where cards can be traded), the pages that contain useful information on basic fundamentals of Poker, card combinations, strategic principles and evaluation of winning chances.

The Principles of 7-Card Stud Poker

First, each player is dealt two cards face down and one card face up, followed up by initial round of betting. Then the players who continue in the game, i.e. those who have not folded, are dealt three cards face up one by one in successive steps and the last seventh card face down.

It is possible to open bets after each new card (including the last card). So there are five intervals in total for betting in the Seven-Card Stud – see the illustration below.

1st round of betting 2nd 3rd 4th 5th

The presence of seven cards makes the game far more complex. The hand is, of course, combined from five cards only (logically it is the highest possible poker combination of the cards).

More cards increase the chance to reach one of the stronger combinations or Poker hands – especially Straight, Flush or Full House. On the other hand, and assuming that players do not bluff, a great number of shown cards and the bets of the opponents give a better understanding of their hands.

7-Card Stud Strategy

Aces and Kings are the average winning combination (hand). You can win the pot even with a weaker hand, but you have to know what combination you aim for right from the beginning. One of the most important factors remains how many cards you will take/buy, as it is necessary to at least call the bets of your opponents in order to stay in the game.

There are some unwritten rules in the 7-Card Stud Poker. However they should not be taken dogmatically. It always depends on particular situation, intuition and courage of the players:

  • Three of a Kind and Pairs of Aces or Kings should be played until the end ("Down the river!",
  • It is also worth going for incomplete Straights or Flushes,
  • A pair of Queens or lower, if not improved by the fourth card, should be folded,
  • If you have Three of a Kind and you suspect some of your opponents having higher Three of a Kind, it si better off to fold,
  • If you have a secret pair, even though a weak one, it is more advantageous than a stronger pair that everyone can see.

Counting chances to improve your hand is quite feasable. The principle of counting cards is explained on the page devoted to Five-Card Stud. In the table below you can find probabilities against getting a specific combination.

For instance: the probability of being dealt three Aces as the first three cards is the following: We have to receive three out of four Aces (present in the 52-card deck) and compare it to the overall number of threesome combinations that can be created by 52 cards.

The probability (beware of some common myths and mistakes when assessing probability) and true odds are the following: P = C(4,3) / C(52,3) = 4 / 22100 = 0.000180995 (where C is the number of combinations), Odds = 1:5,524. The Odds (chance) against us is the reciprocal value, i.e. 5524:1.

The Chance against Getting a Specific Combination out of First Three Cards
CombinationProbabilityOdds against
Any Pair0.1764705885.67:1
Pair of Aces0.01357466173.67:1
Any Three of a Kind0.002352941425:1
Three of Aces0.0001809955,524:1
Three cards to Straight0.2258823534.5:1
Three cards to Flush0.05176470619:1
Three cards to Straight Flush0.01176470685:1

After each new card your possibilities (as well as your opponents') change as regards card combinations and bluffing. It is a constant decision making, whether to check, raise or fold. That is why the game is extremely demanding.

Clear focus should be put on watching the game and the behavior of your opponents. It is said that good players can make their judgement after the fifth card. If they feel success in the air, they will go down the river.

If you like 7-Card Stud you may fall in love with Texas Hold'em, currently the most popular Poker game in the world. If you look for an even more challenging fight then there are Omaha and Omaha Hi Lo.

 
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