How to Play 7 Card Stud Hi Low
7 Card Stud Hi Low, sometimes referred to as 7 Card Stud 8 or Better, is a variation of 7 Card Stud that awards a split pot to two hand winners - the high hand and the low hand.
The high hand is determined in the usual way - highest ranking 5-card poker hand. The low hand, however, must "qualify" in order to win. The qualifying rules are implied by the name of the game, 7 Card Stud "8 or Better" - meaning the hand must have no card higher than 8, obviously with no pairs. Aces are counted as the lowest card in a low hand, while Straights and Flushes are not considered combinations and are ignored.
2 to 8 players may participate in a hand of 7 Card Stud 8 or Better. A single, standard 52-card deck is used.
Qualifying Low Hand Rules
In order to qualify as a low hand your hand must follow these rules:
- No card higher than an 8
- No pairs
- Aces are low
- Straights and Flushes aren't considered combinations
- Best possible qualifying low hand: A-2-3-4-5
- Worst possible qualifying low hand: 4-5-6-7-8
Object of 7 Card Stud Hi Low
To win 7 Card Stud Hi Low, players must develop the highest ranking 5-card poker hand out of the 7 cards available to them by the end of the hand. This awards half of the pot. Players must then create the best qualifying low hand, awarding the other half of the pot.
If no player qualifies for a low hand, the winner of the high hand takes the whole pot. The same player may win both low and high hands, also awarding the whole pot.
Betting Structure of 7 Card Stud Hi Low
Fixed Limit is the most common betting structure used when playing 7 Card Stud, but No Limit and Pot Limit games do occur. The term Fixed Limit applies to forced bet and raise amounts throughout the hand, according to the stakes of the game. For instance, stakes of $1/$2 would require all bets/raises in the first three betting rounds to be equal to the low-end stakes of $1, while the last two betting rounds require bets/raises of the high-end stakes, $2.
7 Card Stud 8 or Better uses Ante and bring-in bets instead of blinds. All betting options are defined below.
- Ante: The typical Ante bet is 10% to 25% of the low-end stakes. All players must contribute an Ante to the pot before the cards are dealt. (i.e. stakes of $1/$2 = Ante of $.10 to $.25)
- Bring In: Once the first set of cards are dealt, each player will have two hole cards (face-down) and one door card (face-up). The player with the lowest door card must place the bring-in bet, equal to 50% of the low-end stakes. (i.e. stakes of $1/$2 = bring-in of $0.50). If a tie occurs, lowest suit places the bring-in bet. Suits rank lowest to highest in alphabetical order - Clubs, Diamonds, Hearts, Spades.
- Check: To place no bet, but stay in the hand. Only possible if no player has bet in the current betting round.
- Bet: A bet is the first chips placed in the pot in a single betting round.
- Call: A call is when a player matches the current bet.
- Raise: A raise is when a player calls the current bet, then adds more chips to the pot.
- Fold: A fold is when a player forfeits the current hand, throwing in his cards.
- All-In: An All-In bet is when a player bets all remaining chips. Only possible (in a Fixed Limit game) if the player has just enough, or not enough, chips to bet, call or raise. An All-In bet is kept separate from the main pot because the player cannot win a higher amount from any other player than the amount of his All-In bet.
General Game Play of 7 Card Stud 8 or Better
Note that for this example hand of 7 Card Stud Hi Low, we'll be utilizing a Fixed Limit betting structure with stakes of $1/$2.
The 7 Card Stud 8 or Better game starts with all players putting an Ante bet into the pot. Every player is then dealt 3 cards each, two hole cards (face-down) and one door card (face-up). The lowest door card pays the forced bring-in bet.
The first round of betting begins with the player left of the bring-in Bet, who must bet the low-end stakes of $1, raise or fold. Betting continues in this fashion until the bring-in bettor's turn, where he must match the current bet amount by adding enough chips to his bring-in bet, raise or fold. Remember, for the first 3 rounds of betting, all bets and raises must be in increments of $1 (the low-end stakes).
4th Street: Each player is dealt a fourth open (face-up) card. Another round of betting starts, this time (and for all rounds hereafter) starting with the player with the highest open (face-up) hand.
5th Street: Each player is dealt a fifth open card, followed by another round of betting, same as the last.
6th Street: Each player is dealt a sixth open card, followed by another round of betting. From here out, all bets/raises must be equal to the high-end stakes of $2.
7th Street: Each player is dealt a final, seventh card, this time as a hole card (face-down). Open hands do not change, so the player who started the last betting round will start this one, as well.
The Showdown: A showdown takes place so long as two or more players remain in the hand (everyone didn't fold). Players first use their 7 cards to create the highest possible 5-card poker hand. The highest ranking hand wins half of the pot.
Next, each player tries to create a qualifying low hand (see 'Qualifying Low Hand Rules' above). The lowest qualifying hand wins the other half of the pot.
If no hand qualifies for a low hand, the winner of the high hand scoops the entire pot.
Note that the same player may actually win both pots, high and low.
Possible Problems in 7 Card Stud Hi Low
There's not enough cards! Yes, this can happen, though it is extremely rare. This will only occur in a full table of 8 players if no one folds. At the 7th Street, there will not be enough cards to deal one to each player. Instead, a single card is dealt face-up for all players to use as their last card. Play then resumes normally.
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