All poker games played until the 1860s were closed, so the cards dealt to a player were known only to him. However, when stud poker made it to the tables in the early 1960s, players got to see more of their opponents’ cards. This gave players an advantage, as they could act based on how strong or weak their opponents’ hands seemed to be from the face-up cards.
As poker is a five card game, the first version of stud poker was called Five Card Stud. In this, the first card dealt to each player is placed face-down, so only they know its value. This is called a hole card. Next, the dealer places four cards face-up in four successive rounds. After each card is dealt, the game enters a betting round. In Five Card Stud poker, you can have a maximum of ten players and use a standard deck of 52 cards.
Before the cards are dealt, every player places an ante. Each player gets one face-up card and one face-down card. The game then moves on to the first betting round. The third card is dealt face-up, after which players go through another betting round. The same sequence follows until the end of the fourth betting round. In the case where more than one player survives the rounds, the game will enter a showdown where they compare their five-card hand. The player with the best hand will take home the pot.
Betting sequence in Five Card Stud Poker
The betting sequence in Five Card Stud is quite different from that in other poker variants, like Texas Hold’em and Omaha. In Five Card Stud all betting rounds start with the player who has the top ranking hand based on the face-up cards. This is contrary to Texas Hold’em and Omaha, where players in the pot, seated to the dealer’s left, place the first bet in the round.
The hand ranking system followed to determine which player has the best the face-up cards are the same as the traditional one. For instance, a quad is stronger than a set, which is better than a pair. So, if you have 3-3-3, and an opponent has 8-8-9, your hand will rank higher. Similarly, an 8-8-9 will rank higher than an A-K-Q. Incomplete flushes and straights are not considered when ranking hands. If two players’ hands are tied, the suits of their highest cards are compared. The ranking order for the suits is – spades (highest), hearts, diamonds and clubs (lowest).
Variations in betting in Five Card Stud Poker
In a few games, the first player in the first betting round must make a compulsory wager, which is also known as the bring-in. Generally, if a player places the bring-in, he does not have to post the ante.
Most other games require the player who has the lowest ranking face-up card to start the betting round with a bring-in. The betting rounds that follow start with the player who has the highest ranking hand.
Casinos generally run Five Card Stud poker games in the fixed limit format with the following rules:
• The sizes of the small and big bets are decided.
• If players have to place a bring-in, the ante is less than the small bet.
• The player to act first in the betting round gets to decide between a full small bet and the mandatory minimum.
• If the player opts for the bring-in, the players to act after him can fold, place the bring-in or wager the small bet.
• Players can raise only if one of their opponents completes the wager.
• You are not allowed to place a big bet in the first round of betting.
Five Card Stud can be played with a few other rule variations. One such is where the fifth card, like the first, is dealt face-down. This way, each player will have two hole cards and three face-up cards by the last betting round. In this variation, the last betting round is started by the player who made the first bet in the preceding round.