5 Card Stud

If any version of poker has been swallowed up by the Hold’em avalanche, it’s 5-card stud. This basic-but-challenging game was, at one time, played in kitchen-table, back-room and riverboat games. Today, it is nearly impossible to find a five-card poker game. Seven-card stud might be available in a handful of rooms not the classic five-card version.

Five-card stud is considered the first version of stud poker played, with roots in the 1800s. While it is closely associated with the United States during and after the Civil War, the game has also been popular in other countries, including Finland and other European nations. In most cases, the game was played with set limits, as was 7-card stud. With both these stud varieties, players put a small ante in to start the game, as compared to the blinds of Hold’em.

In traditional 5-card stud games, cards are dealt in this fashion:

  • Players get one card face down and one card face up.
  • Usually the player with the lowest up-card must “bring in” with an amount set before the game starts (a "bring-in" is a forced bet).
  • A round of betting takes place then a third card is dealt face up.
  • Another round of betting- then a fourth card is dealt face up.
  • A round of betting takes place and the final card is dealt face up.

The betting is started by the player who has the best poker hand showing on up cards.

The final card is sometimes referred to as “the river” just as it is in Hold’em. If a player chooses to fold, he or she simply turns all cards face down and is out of the hand. Some home games and poker-room action calls for the last card to be dealt face down, a variant on the original game. This adds a bit more mystery to each hand.

Both 7-card stud and 5-card stud have been played with a high-low split as well. A player may win with the best high hand, the best low hand (such as 2, 3, 4, 5, 7) or may win both in some versions of the game. Aces are sometimes designated as both high and low, to be used either way (similar to blackjack).

Five-card stud was part of the early World Series of Poker but has not been included in tournaments at this level for more than 30 years.