How to Play Five Card Stud

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The poker game known as Five Card Stud originated around the time of the U.S. Civil War (1861-65). Often referred to simply as “Stud,” it is the basis for a variety of “open” poker variations ranging from Seven Card Stud to the currently fashionable Texas Hold’em. Although Five Card Stud conjures up images of old films, smoky card rooms, river boat gamblers and the bars of the Depression era, it is still popular today in home games and widely available at casinos online.

Five Card Stud is played with a standard 52-card deck. A marker placed in front of one player is called the “button” and it indicates the dealer for that particular hand. The game may be played with “blinds,” but the traditional version calls for each player to post an “ante,” a nominal amount wagered as the cost of being able to receive cards and play the hand.

Once all players have staked their compulsory antes, the dealer will distribute two cards to each player, starting from the left of the dealer, one card face down and one card face up for everyone to see. Players may look at their hidden “hole card” in order to evaluate the merits of their hands.

The lowest face-up card opens the first round of betting. The player who holds the low card has the opportunity to check, bet or fold. Some online versions of Five Card Stud require a bet called the “bring-in,” which is equal to the ante. Thereafter, each player in turn, clockwise from the bring-in, has the opportunity to call, raise or fold. Betting continues until there are no more raises.

It should be noted that for the purposes of identifying the bring-in only, suits may be referred to. In the case of a tie for highest card, the suit of the card determines the bring-in, with spades being the highest followed by hearts, diamonds and clubs.

Now another face-up card is dealt to each active player. The face-up cards are collectively known as “Third Street.” A second betting round follows, starting with the player who holds the highest face up card. This player is not forced to wager and may check or fold if choosing not to bet. Again, going clockwise, each active player in turn may check, fold or bet, if there has been no bet made, or call, raise or fold if a an intervening bet has occurred.

Once all bets have matched the next card is dealt face up. Collectively these face-up cards are referred to as “Fourth Street.” The action for the third round of betting is exactly the same as for the second. When the pot is right, a fifth card is dealt face up, “Fifth Street,” and there is one final round of betting. In some versions of Five Card Stud, the last card is dealt face down. In that case, the player who had the best face up cards from the previous round again starts the betting.

As soon as all bets have been matched, there is a “showdown” to determine the winner whenever more than one player remains. The last bettor or raiser must expose his or her hole card(s) first. Or, if there was no betting in the final round, whoever sits in the earliest seat must reveal his or her cards first. All of the other hands are then exposed clockwise around the table.

Whichever player holds the highest five-card poker hand wins the total amount in the pot. Should two or more hands have the same value, the pot is split equally among them. Suits are not referred to for the purposes of awarding the pot. As soon as the pot has been claimed, the button moves one place clockwise and the next hand of Five Card Stud is ready to start.

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