How To Play Seven Card Stud Hi-Lo
Seven card stud once enjoyed the popularity that Texas Hold'em enjoys today. If there was a WSOP before 1970, seven card stud would probably have been the main event. Like Texas Hold'em, seven card stud is a game of incomplete information. You will know four out of your opponent's seven cards and you can further deduce their holdings by paying attention to what other people have and what other people folded.
The Hi-Lo variant of seven card stud offers another dimension to the game. There's always a chance that a low hand might cause you to split a pot which makes pot odds much more difficult to calculate. Here are the rules of this deliciously complex form of poker:
In seven card stud hi-lo, both the high and a qualifying low hand split the pot. In order to qualify as a low hand, you must have five unpaired cards lower than an eight. So the highest possible low hand is 8-7-6-5-4. Neither straights nor flushes count for the low, but they do for the high. Let's say, for example, that you had the 5-4-3-2-A of hearts. You would have the nuts for the low end with your five high, and there's an excellent chance that you'll win the high end with your straight flush. Winning both the high and the low is known as “scooping” the pot. Here is how the game is played:
Seven card stud hi-lo has five rounds of betting each with a maximum of four bets. Each round can have a bet, a raise, a re-raise, and a cap. As an example, let's follow a $1/$2 game.
- After all players post a nominal ante, the dealer starts by dealing to the left. Each player gets one card dealt face-down and then another. Next the dealer deals each player a card face-up. When the dealer finishes, the first round of betting starts.
- The player with the lowest card showing “brings in” the action with a forced bet of at least ½ the minimum bet. In this case, it's $0.50. Other players can then call, raise, or fold.
- After the first round of betting, the dealer deals another card face-up. Now the player with the highest hand showing posts the bring-in.
- After the second round of betting, the fifth card (5th street) is dealt face-up. Once again the player with the highest hand brings in the betting, but the minimum bet shifts to $2 on this street and for every street after.
- Now 6th street is dealt face-up and is followed by a round of betting.
- Finally, 7th street is dealt face-down and is followed by the final round of betting.
- The highest hand splits the pot with the lowest qualifying low hand. If no hand qualifies for the low, the highest hand scoops the pot.
The goal in seven card stud hi-lo is to scoop the pot. If you only win half, you risked a large amount of money for a relatively small payday.
Few people take the time to learn how to play this game well nowadays. With a little effort, seven card stud hi-lo could had hundreds to your bankroll.