Five card stud is the oldest variant of stud poker and despite the fact that there is no live casino offering that game anymore and although seven-card stud is more popular today, it’s still worth a look if you fancy a change from your usual flop-based game. If you are new to online poker then on this site we will guide you through the basic rules, glossary the strategies and will give you some tips for five card stud poker.
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What you need to bear in mind is that five card poker and poker in general is primarily a game of skill and secondarily a game of luck. Roulette or slot games for example do not require any particular skills compared to poker that does.
The Basics of 5 Card Stud Poker
Lets start with the very basic of how you play five card stud.
- You receive two cards to begin with, the same as hold’em, but in this game one of them is displayed face up for all your opponents to see! (I’ll denote this using (x)y, where x is face down, and y is face up.)
- A betting round follows, with the player showing the lowest card having to make a forced bet known as the bring in to get the action started. Note that unlike the big blind in hold’em if nobody raises but one or more players just call this bet, then the player making the bring-in doesn’t get a chance to raise
- Three more cards are dealt with each player, all face-up, with a betting round after each card, after the 5th card and 4th betting round any hands still in the pot go to a showdown to determine the winner.
The first thing most hold’em players need to get grips with is the difference that the bring-in and ante make when compared to playing with blinds. Because the lowest card showing makes the bring in, but the highest hand showing acts first on all the other streets, position in stud changes throughout the hand. This makes starting position much less important than usual. Relative table position still matters, as you’ll have position against the person on your immediate right unless it’s you acting first in the hand.
Position and Hands in Five Card Stud
If position counts less, then what is important? The answer is starting hands. With only five cards available for each player, and only one card extra on each betting round, good starting hands are very important.
Big hands aren’t very common in five card stud, with pairs and high cards taking the majority of pots. With this in mind, and no flop, it’s easy to see that hands like 7 8 suited are no good here.
A good rule is that if both of your hole cards are higher than any of your opponent’s up-cards then you have a strong chance of winning the hand.
High pairs are huge in this game, and even medium and low pairs are strong. High cards such as aces, kings, and queens are powerful in the right situation, and it’s important to note that the order of your cards can make a difference to the strength of your hand. Having an ace showing and a three as your down-card, (3)A, looks a lot stronger than the other way round, (A)3, and means that you may be able to take the pot there and then if nobody has a pair or an ace, just by betting your ace. However, the best card for both hands is another ace, and if it does come then it’s much better to have (A)3A where your opponents cannot see your pair of aces.
It’s this feature of the game, being able to see all but one of your opponent’s cards, that makes the biggest difference to your hand. With only 13 different options, since flushes are very rare in five-stud, it is very easy to put your opponent on a certain hand, but also very easy for them to do the same to you. Where Texas hold’em is a game of position and betting, and Omaha is a game of hand strength and drawing, five-card stud is all about knowing when you’re ahead and when you’re not. If you can’t beat what you can see, then there’s often little point calculating you’re odds, as it’s just not worth staying in the hand.
Basic Tips and Strategies for Five Card Stud Poker
Most players don’t pay enough attention to the cards held by their opponents, concentrating on they’re own, or just the players left in the pot. Also important here are cards that have been folded by players no longer in that hand. If you are in a hand on a full table where six opponents have folded, and only one other player remains in the pot with you then you have knowledge of all your own cards, the up-cards of your opponent, plus six folded cards now unavailable to you.
If you can’t beat what you can see, then a fold is almost always the best plan, unless you think a bluff might get through, although if you manage to get a four card flush or straight, with so many cards known to you, it can be simple to work out the odds of you hitting, and compare these to the odds that the pot is offering you on a call you need to make. In these situations it’s important to have noted what cards have been folded, and whether any of them were cards that you needed to complete your hand.
With only one card unknown to you out of your opponent’s hand, there are a lot of situations where your opponents cannot be beating you no matter what cards they hold, and more importantly, you can know this with absolute certainty. These situations must be played well to maximize the pot, while not scaring off your opponent.
Most stud hands are won well before the 5th card, with one player having a high hand showing, and betting the other players out of the pot. Holding (2)A looks just the same as (K)A to your opponents, and can often win the pot before anymore cards are dealt.
Pay close attention to how other players are playing, and whether they bluff or call when behind. Most players play five-card stud badly, drawing to a better hand when they are almost certainly behind, and once you have noted which players these are, you can make sure to bet into them when you know you’re ahead.
Players who bluff more can be slow played, encouraging them to fire a bet at the pot when you’re holding a strong hand, but unless you know you’re a long way in front slow playing can often be a disadvantage. If you always raise whenever your first up-card is an ace, and nobody has an ace visible, then limping when you are dealt (A)A can look very suspicious. The bullying aggressive player can be very easy to beat in five-card stud, by trapping them into betting when you hold an unbeatable hand.
One of the best ways to win at this game is by having a very tight table image, and then playing more aggressively and bluffing more than your opponents give you credit for. With so few hands going to showdown, it can be easy to get away with it, but take care not to over-do it and become the table bully, as you can easily get caught out. Patience and observation are the two most important factors in five-card stud, and if you can remember this you can reap big rewards from the game!