Stud Poker: Variants, Top players & history
Stud poker is a name for a group of several different games that share some similar rules but each variation has some of its own rules that make it different from the rest. What is common to pretty much all stud poker rules is that the players receive a mixture of hole cards face up and face down and they don’t get to exchange any of them (like in draw poker) and there are no community cards (like in Texas Hold’em or Omaha). Some variations of stud poker are still quite popular with players, even with all the new game types that have taken the poker world by storm.
Where Can I Play Stud Poker Online?
Many online poker sites on our comparison page offer different variations of stud games and you can play them for both play money and real cash. Whether you’re an experienced player looking for a place to play or someone seeking a stud poker how-to-play guide, these sites will give you exactly what you need.
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Stud Poker Variations
Stud Poker History
The earliest stud poker type we have a reference for appeared during the American Revolutionary War in the last quarter of the 1700s. We know the game was played with four cards but there isn’t much information about the exact rules and hand rankings used. Whatever it may have been, this early variation is no longer played in casinos.
Five card stud appeared in the second half of the 1800s during the American Civil War. The card game was very popular among soldiers on both sides and it was the first stud game that really caught up. Five card stud would continue to be played for the decades to come and it is even played in some home games today. The game is played with five hole cards, four of them face up and one face down.
The emergence of Seven Card Stud
Seven card stud was the latest stud game to appear on the scene but it was also the one to pick up the most traction. Until the appearance of Texas Hold’em, it was by far the most popular poker variation around, played in many casinos in the USA and around the world. The game provides enough betting streets to make things interesting but also entails a fair amount of strategy, where a player has to pay a lot of attention to cards folded on previous streets to figure out his own odds and also deduce how likely their opponents are to make their hand.
Razz is another form of stud poker, which came about in the early 19th century, shortly after Seven Card Stud. It is basically the low version of the game, where the best possible hand is the low straight, popularly known as the wheel (A, 2, 3, 4, 5). The game uses rules for low poker variations and it, too, survived to this very day it is quite popular on its own and as a part of mixed game rotations in games such as HORSE.
Stud games and the evolution of poker
Over the years, players have come up with many different variations of stud games, including Seven Card Stud Eight or Better. This game is essentially the mix of regular Seven Card Stud and Razz, where players try to make the high hand (with full houses, flushes, and such) and the low hand. The pot is split between the best high and the best low hand, which can be held by the same player. This creates very special dynamics at the table and requires a solid knowledge of the stud poker strategy.
All in all, stud games have played a huge role in the development of poker as we know and love it today. Although most variations of the game popular today use community cards and betting structures with blinds (as opposed to antes and bring-ins), it all started with stud. Many casinos still spread games like Seven Card Stud and many players still prefer playing them over Hold’em or Omaha Poker, so they’re definitely not dead, even if they lost a lot of popularity they once enjoyed.
Stud Poker Type & Stud Poker Rules for Main Variations
As already discussed, there are a few main variations of stud poker, all of them featuring some important differences players need to be aware of. Five card stud is the oldest version, where every player receives one card face down and the remaining four cards face up. The game features four betting rounds (streets) and is usually played with a limited betting structure.
Seven-card stud is the most popular of all stud games. It is played with seven cards in total and players have to use five of them to make the best stud poker hands. Hand rankings are standard poker rankings, i.e. royal and straight flushes beat quads, quads beat boats, etc. The game begins with two cards dealt face down (hole cards) and one card face up. The first betting round happens, after which another card is dealt face-up. After every card, there is another betting round. The final card is dealt face down.
Razz is played almost identically as Seven Card Stud but hand rankings are different. The game uses lowball poker hand rankings, where the best hand is A, 2, 3, 4, and 5. The next best hand is A, 2, 3, 4, 6, etc.
Finally, HORSE is a mix of several different games and it includes both Razz and Seven Card stud, so stud poker strategy tips and tricks play an important role in the overall success of this variation.
Top 3 Stud Poker Players
Even though stud games aren’t as popular as they were back in the day, there are still some players who specialize in mixed game formats and have made a lot of money playing stud poker. These are three of the best stud players around according to all accounts.
Michale “The Grinder” Mizrachi
Born in 1981, Michael Mizrachi, better known by his nickname “The Grinder” is one of the most successful poker players around. Although Mizrachi has had a lot of success in Hold’em events as well, he seems to be very skilled in stud-type games as well, given he’s the only one to have won three WSOP Poker Players Championships. With USD 17.2 million in live tournament earnings, “The Grinder” definitely knows a bit more than just stud poker basics.
Rast is another player who’s posted great results in mixed-game formats involving a fair number of stud variations, such as Seven Card Stud, Seven Card Stud 8, and Razz. With four WSOP bracelets to his name, two of them coming from the Poker Players Championship, Rast has in excess of USD 21.5 million in live earnings and he has had a lot of success playing online poker as well.
Although he is a Texas Hold’em master, Phil Ivey isn’t called Tiger Woods of Poker for nothing. For many, Ivey is the best all-around player and he has a great knowledge of stud games as well. Phil has been a regular in the high-stakes cash games in Las Vegas, which regularly feature mixed games involving Seven Card Stud and Razz. According to those in the know, Ivey has more than held his own in these games and he is clearly a very good player in all forms of poker so he gets his place in this top-three list as well.
Top 3 Stud Poker Events
Even if stud games aren’t as popular as they were before, there are still some tournaments out there designed to attract players who excel in these poker variations. While these events don’t attract the huge fields that we see in Hold’em tournaments, the number of players getting involved still shows there is a lot of interest out there.
WSOP Poker Players Championship
Taking place every year during the World Series of Poker in Las Vegas, the Poker Players Championship is considered one of the most prestigious tournaments around. It is played in the HORSE format, which means players have to know their stud games very well. This, combined with the steep buy-in of USD 50,000, also means that the event attracts a fairly small number of players. However, those who do get involved are usually the poker elite, including the likes of Daniel Negreanu, Phil Ivey, Jason Mercier, etc.
WSOP USD 10,000 Seven Card Stud Championship
The World Series of Poker is one place where all games still get their day in the sun. Every year, the USD 10,000 Seven Card Stud Championship attracts a small number of players who are still very passionate about this particular format. While the number of entrants is usually around 100 and the prize money isn’t huge, the prestige of winning a WSOP bracelet and the thrill of calculating some stud poker odds on the spot still does the trick for the select few.
WSOP USD 10,000 Razz Championship
Everything we said about the Seven Card Stud Championship applies to the Razz Championship as well. This is a niche tournament for sure but for those who enjoy stud games, it is one of the biggest and most exciting events of the year. Since these tournaments aren’t really that available these days, traveling to Las Vegas to play against the best definitely has a special appeal to it.
Stud Poker Strategy & Rules FAQs
What is stud poker?
How to deal stud poker?
How to play stud poker in a casino?
Why isn’t stud as popular as it once was?
Can I play stud games online?
If you enjoy the particularities of the stud poker betting patterns and love the strategy of the games, you’ll find plenty of options online. While most of the sites offer Seven Card Stud and Razz, you might find some even spreading Five Card Stud if that’s your cup of tea. Whatever it is that you enjoy, you should have no problems finding it, so don’t waste any more time. Get involved with the site that works for you and jump straight into the action with some of the best stud games around!