For Canadian poker fans who eagerly follow televised WSOP events on ESPN with all the glamour and excitement that has become synonymous with the Texas Hold’em variety of poker, it’s easy to forget that before this variant of poker became such a sensation, seven card stud was what everyone preferred to play. With so many poker stars being born in Canada and drawing attention to the more recent poker fads, seven card stud has fallen by the wayside. Yet it’s important for true poker fans to know this poker game as well, as it can help sharpen skills and build an appreciation for the history and development of the game over the years.
Seven card stud setup is similar to other poker varieties that players in Canada have long been familiar with. Even if you don’t see this game as much at local casinos or in the media, it’s still a classic. In seven card stud, players must put in an ante rather than a blind, after which the dealer deals each poker player two hole cards and one card face up. Cards dealt face up in seven card stud are referred to as door cards or window cards, depending on who you’re playing with, as they give a glimmer of insight into what each player’s hand might look like without giving away the whole picture.
The player who is dealt the window card with the lowest value is expected to begin the hand. This is called the bring in seven card stud. The third street, or first round of betting, allows each player to either fold, call, or raise. After this round is complete, the dealer then gives each player another show card. The player with the highest value of show cards is expected to begin the fourth round of betting, during which players may check, call, raise, or fold. This process is repeated for the fifth street (third round) and sixth street (fourth round) in which bets are usually more substantial than previous rounds. In the seventh street (final round), the last card is dealt face down to each player.
The showdown takes place after the final round of betting is complete, in which each player creates the best hand possible out of the seven cards he or she has been dealt to that point. The two cards that aren’t used in the hand have no relevance in the showdown and are labeled dead. The rules for determining the winning hand are the same as other familiar varieties of poker.
There are no community cards in seven card stud, which forces players to use their imaginations in order to predict what their opponents’ hands might look like based on each player’s individual show cards (the cards that are dealt face up). As the game can be played with up to eight people, this can entail a lot of calculated analysis is many different directions, making the game a complex exercise in multitasking and cognitive skills.