Seven Card Stud Hi/Lo is the more interesting but also more complicated brother to the regular Seven Card Stud game. Seven Card Stud Hi/Lo is a very popular stud game, but is not something that many players besides specialists play. A few online poker sites offer the game, but besides Pokerstars, most don’t have any traffic on the tables.
Seven Card Stud Hi/Lo doesn’t have much in common with the most popular regular games such as Texas Hold’em and Omaha High, but follows the same hand ranking system as the popular Omaha Hi/Lo. Seven Card Stud Hi/Lo is also known as a split-pot game as the pot is divided into two pools, half for the winner of the “high” hand and the other half for the winner of the “low” hand. The high hand uses the regular high hand ranking system, where the low hand uses the “ace to five” system for ranking its hands.
As the name suggests, players are dealt seven cards over five different betting rounds and the players who shows the best five card combination in the high and low category wins the hand. It is possible for the same player to win both pots in the same hand, but it doesn’t happen that often. Each player will have three cards that is not shown to the other players and four cards that are, providing your opponents with information about your hand strength.
Seven Card Stud Hi/Lo is not an easy game to learn how to master if you are not already familiar with other Hi/Lo games. Despite having the possibility to see four of the opponent’s cards, it is hard to get into the dynamics of the game until you have been playing for a long time. When you play Seven Card Stud Hi/Lo live there are also a lot of other factors to take into consideration such as who has to post the bring-in, who has to bet first and so on. Luckily when you play Seven Card Stud Hi/Lo online the poker software takes care of all of this for you, so you can focus on playing your cards correct.
When you want to start playing Seven Card Stud Hi/Lo, you will need to know the basic game play rules and the hand ranking rules as well. As mentioned before the pot is split into two different pools, one for the high hand and one for the low hand.
The high hand uses the general high hand ranking system, known from all popular games such as Texas Hold’em, Omaha and Five Card Draw. The low hand on the other hand uses a completely different and to most people unknown hand ranking system called “Ace to Five” or “California”. In this hand ranking system it’s all about getting the lowest hand possible from ace to eight, also known as a “wheel”. This means that any hand that has a card over an eight cannot apply for the low pot and straights and flushes do not apply either. Below we have provided some different examples of low hands that qualify to win the hand and we have ranked them by strength, starting with the weakest:
A low hand is always ranked from the highest card and downwards. That means that if you have a hand starting with a seven and five as the first cards, it will be known as a “seven-five low”. Now that you understand the concept of winning the Hi and Lo pots and know the hand rankings, let’s move on to the basic game play.
To start playing Seven Card Stud Hi/Lo all games need to have a dealer assigned, to deal the cards virtually. The dealer is decided by dealing each player a card face up and the highest card wins the dealer button in the first round. He will then deal the cards to the players clockwise and after each hand the button moves clockwise as well.
To receive any cards in Seven Card Stud Hi/Lo players will have to post an ante. An ante is a small amount of money the players put in the pot before they receive any cards, to ensure there will be something worth gambling about.
Unlike in most other poker games, Seven Card Stud Hi/Lo doesn’t have blinds that players are forced to post, but instead have a “bring-in”. A bring-in is a small bet amount that players have to put in the pot when they are the first to act in the first betting round. The player with the lowest visible card will be the one who has to bring-in the first bet. Should there be a tie between one or more players, having the same low card, the suit of the card decides who has to bring-in the bet. The suits are ranked by alphabetical order, meaning that clubs are lowest and hearts are highest.
In the following rounds, the first player to act is decided by the player having the best possible hand shown. So if one player has Ace King showing and another has Seven and Seven showing, the player with the pair will be the first to act, unlike in the first round where the worst hand had to start.
Players will receive three cards in the first betting round, where only one card is shown to the others. The next three rounds will deal each player one face up card per round and in the final betting round the players will receive another face down card, for a total of seven cards.
Seven Card Stud Hi/Lo can be played with 2-8 players sitting at the table, but might end up in problems with eight players playing, if none fold. As there is only 52 cards in a poker deck, it’s possible to run out of cards before the seventh street can be dealt and when that happens players will be dealt a single community card that they all have to share among each other to try and create the best possible hand.
The dealer button has no meaningful matter when you are playing Seven Card Stud Hi/Lo online, as all it does is show who has to virtually deal the cards and doesn’t decide which players act first or last like in other poker variants.
To find out who has to start with the button in a new Seven Card Stud Hi/Lo game, the software will deal each seated player a open faced card and the highest card wins the dealer button. The game can now begin.
The first betting round is known as the third street, because the dealer will deal each player their first three cards. First all players will have to post the ante and then each player receives two cards face down and one card face up. When all players have received their cards, the player with the lowest card will be forced to bring-in the first bet or raise his hand. The players after him will then have to choose which action they want to take:
Fold: When a player don’t want to pay the bring-in or any raised amount to play his hand he will fold
Call: When a player have a good starting hand, he will call the bring-in or a raise amount to get another card
Raise: When a player has got three good starting cards, he can choose to raise the hand to get more money in the pot
The action will go around the table clockwise and when all the players at the table has made their decision the hand moves on to the next betting round.
On the fourth street, the players will receive their fourth card which is dealt face up. When all players have received their fourth card, the player showing the best hand will be the one that has to act first. This is the complete opposite of the first betting round, where the player with the worst hand had to act first. This pattern continues for the rest of the streets played.
The first player now has the option to check or bet his hand, depending on if he wants to pass the turn or put money in the pot. The other players will, depending on the action, have the options to check, call, bet, raise or fold.
On the fifth street all players receive yet another card face up, having a total of five cards. The player with the best showing hand will be first to act and players have the option to check, call, bet, raise or fold. When all players have made their decision, the next street begins.
The sixth street is where the players get dealt the final face up card and has received a total of six out of seven cards. Just like in the previous streets, the player with the best shown hand has to begin the action and the players can choose which action they want to take afterwards.
The seventh street is the final betting round is also where players are dealt the last card, which is dealt face down. The players will now have a total of three hidden and four open cards where they have to make the best possible five hand combination. But before they get that far, there is yet another betting round which is also the last. Players can do the same actions as in the previous streets and the players left when the final betting round is over will have to show their cards to find the winner.
At the end of the last betting round, the hand will have to go to showdown if more than one player is left in the hand. At showdown the dealer will determine who has the best five card combination hand in the high and low category.
When the dealer has shown who has won each pot, the money will be awarded to the winners and a new hand will begin shortly after.