Stud poker is one of the most common variants of poker played throughout the world, and it was the most popular form of casino poker prior to the relatively recent popularity explosion of Texas Holdem. There are many variations to the core stud poker rules as defined by the classic game. The information here centers on the classic game, which uses a 52-card deck and allows for 2-7 players.
In the classic rules for stud poker, each player puts an ante into the pot. Then, starting at his or her left, the dealer deals a card to each player until each player has three. The dealer deals the first two of those cards facedown and the final card face-up. The facedown cards are pocket cards, also called hole cards.
Now, each player examines his or her hole cards, and the player with lowest-valued face-up card must place an additional bet called the “bring-in.” The house establishes the ante and bring-in amount, or in a casual game, the players decide on it. A common format is the $5 game, in which case, the bring-in is $5, and the ante is 10-20% of that, or $0.50-1.00.
After the bring-in, the stud poker rules call for the betting to continue to the left of the low-card player. Each player in turn has the right to call, raise, or fold. When that betting round is complete, the dealer deals an additional card face-up to each player. This phase is traditionally called the Fourth Street but also the turn. In this betting round, the high-valued visible card dictates first, but no bet is required. That player, and then each in succession, may check or bet. However, if a player bets rather than checks, each successive player loses the right to check and must either bet, fold, or raise.
Fifth and Sixth Streets
After Fourth Street, there are three additional rounds called Fifth Street, Sixth Street, and Seventh Street. During Fifth and Sixth Street, each player gets another card face up, but during the Seventh Street or river, the dealer deals the card facedown. Once Seventh Street is complete, the rules for stud poker call for a showdown.
In the showdown, the aggressor, the last person to make a bet on Seventh Street, reveals their cards. In turn, each player to the left of the aggressor reveals their cards as well, or they can “muck” their hand facedown to concede. The player with the best 5-card hand using any of his or her seven cards wins the pot.