Five Card Stud

Five Card Stud

Before Texas Holdem became the household game of choice, five card stud was the standard poker game for home games. It is the simplest variation of poker and generally the first type of poker people think of when they hear the word "Poker".

To start, each player places an ante into the pot before any cards are dealt. The ante is generally a very small amount and can be anything from a nickel on up depending on the stakes. The ante is used because it guarantees that a player will always win something on each hand.

Once everyone has anted, the dealer deals the cards face down around the table, starting with the player to his left and continuing clockwise until each player has 5 cards. The dealer should always deals to himself last so he will receive his 5th card last.

Once each player has received their 5 cards they look at his or her cards, and then the first player places a bet. In most games the player that starts the action is the one sitting immediately to the left of the dealer.

There are 2 scenarios when it is your turn to bet.

  • You are first to bet or no bets have been placed prior to your turn.
  • There is a bet in front of you.

If there are no bets in front you, either because you are the first to act or because the players ahead of you have checked, then you have 3 options:

1. You place a bet (any amount up to the limit if there is one)

2. You check (this means you pass on your turn to bet, you may not do this if a bet is on the table)

3. You fold (usually you would never fold without a bet being on the table).

If on the other hand there is a bet when it is your turn, then you have 3 options:

1. You call the bet (you match the amount of the largest bet on the table)

2. You raise the bet (depending on limits you raise the amount of the existing bet placed by the other player)

3. You fold

Betting continues in a clockwise direction until all bets match the highest bet. For example, if player1 bets 20 and no one else raises, then players that want to continue in the hand must match that bet and each player must match it until it comes back to player1. If player1 bets 20 and then player2 raises the total to 40, bets go around the table matching the 40 including player1 who must add the additional 20 to his bet to continue playing. Players always have the option of folding no matter the circumstances, however they will always lose any and all money that they have put into play for that hand. (Of note, never fold out of turn, it can greatly affect what players when it is their turn, only announce your intentions of folding, betting, calling or raising when it is your turn). 

After this initial round of betting player still in the hand have the option of drawing new cards. Each player in turn starting with the person left of the dealer can rid their hand of some of their cards.

It is important to mention the most common rule is that no one may discard more then 3 cards from their hand. However, house games vary quite a bit so some games may allow discarding 4 or even drawing an entirely new hand.

What does this mean? The player to the left of the dealer begins by discarding 0, 1, 2 or 3 cards from their hand that they do not wish to keep. You must return these cards face DOWN back to the dealer and in return you receive an equal amount of cards back from the top of the unused deck. Players do this one at a time until the dealer has received their new cards. The final round of betting begins.

This round of betting is performed in the same manner as the first round. Once all bets are matched players turn over their cards to reveal who has the best hand. The winning hand takes the pot.

Final Notes: Five Card Stud, unlike 7 card variations of poker such as Texas Holdem and 7-Card Stud, have much lower percentages for getting hands above 3 of a kind. Although Straights and Flushs do occur in 5-Card Stud, because these and the hands even higher in rank to those require all 5 cards to be of a certain value, a high pair or 3 of a kind is a very good hand.