How to Play Five-Card Stud Poker

Poker is perhaps one of the most classic card games! People play it in Las Vegas casinos, online, in smokey bars, and at home. However, there are many versions of poker, and they can be quite different compared to the standard variant. Some of them include Texas Hold’em, Draw poker, Let it Ride, and Stud poker. For the most part, poker games require you to have a detailed knowledge of strategy and when to bet or fold in order to beat your foes. And the games can pay off quite a bit if you are lucky.

In this guide, we’ll look into Five-Card Stud poker. This game has become a recent classic due to the fact that it’s easier to play than regular poker. It’s fairly straightforward, and on the other hand, it’s quite thrilling to play. So, keep reading to find out how to play Five-Card Stud poker.

5-Card Stud Poker

This unique poker variant was created a long time ago, way back in the era of the Revolutionary War. It became significantly popular in the Civil War and has been around for a long time.

Interestingly, early poker games featured “closed” cards, and nobody could see them except for the player. Stud poker provided a refreshing take on the game since all the players could see other poker players’ cards on the table. That way, players had a better insight into the hands of others and could modify their wagers accordingly.

The game uses the traditional system of poker hand hierarchy and rules, but the gameplay is different. While 5-card Stud is among the most popular, other stud poker versions are 7-card, Mississippi, Stud Hi/Lo, and Caribbean Stud. All of these have a similar way of betting and some unique rounds called “streets.” If you learn the most common version like the 5-card game, you will be able to master the others rather quickly.

To start, it’s important to mention that the highest five-card combination in a hand determines the winner of the 5-Card Stud game. As mentioned, the hand hierarchy is the same as in standard poker from the strongest to the weakest: Royal Flush, Straight Flush, 4-of-a-Kind, Full House, Flush, Straight, 3-of-a-Kind, Two Pairs, One Pair, High Card. What’s more, the suit rankings are the same, from strongest to weakest: Spades, Hearts, Diamonds, and Clubs.

So, let’s see the main rules of 5-Card Stud poker.



We’ve already mentioned the way to win in this game — if you get the highest hand, i.e., one that is stronger than the other players’, you will emerge as the champion. But, in case another player has the same combination in their hand, the winner is the one who has the stronger suit. The stud table will seat around 2-8 people per game. The game utilizes a deck of 52 playing cards.

Furthermore, this variant does not contain any community (shared) cards or blinds. All players have to put up an ante wager before playing, which is essentially a forced bet or a buy-in. Then, the action can start.


What makes 5-card Stud truly stand out is the fact that it incorporates a specific order of events.

As mentioned, players start the game when they put up the ante. Then, the dealer will give the players two cards in the starting hand. One of those will be a hole card (face-down), and the other will be a face-up card. If the game contains a “bring-in,” the player with the lowest exposed card will have to pay it.

Then, players will enter the first betting round. After this round, they will get the third card (this event is called “third street”), and it will be exposed. Then, there is another betting round, and after that, the players will get their fourth card (also face-up). This is called the “fourth street” and is followed by the “fifth street” where the order of events is the same. In the last round, all remaining players reveal their hands, and they’ll find out who won.

Betting Order

Generally, the player with the best hand will start the betting rounds. That’s why the quads, triplets, pairs, and two-pairs are valued according to the standard poker hand rankings. Consequently, flushes and straights that are incomplete are not valid.

The casino sets the bet sizes for this game. For example, there could be a $4 and an $8 maximum. The ante is not too high, though. It is usually below the minimum bet, for example, $1. If there is a “bring-in,” that bet could be slightly larger, but still not higher than the minimum bet in most cases.

When a player makes a bet for the first time, there are some additional rules. The opener can make a required minimum wager or a full small bet. Then, the others can call on the “bring-in,” complete it by placing a small bet or fold. When the bet is completed, players will have permission to raise. But when the opener puts up a full bet at the start, all players will get permission to raise.

Additionally, in the first round, players cannot make big bets. Thus, stud actually has a fixed-limit betting structure.

Strategy Ideas

Actually, there aren’t many key strategies in this game, so it will be easier to remember them. Your best choice will be always to fold if the up-cards of your opponents are stronger than your cards. If you have a King or an Ace, it’s smart to call the first bet. If you start with two cards that are unpaired and weaker than Kings, the chances for getting a pair are quite lower than breaking even. Thus, it’s actually quite challenging to beat a King or an Ace. Even if you end up with a pair and a high hand, it might be weaker than a stronger one. If players receive an Ace right at the beginning, it’s undoubtedly the best way to start the game, except for an Ace pair, of course.

Additionally, if you think your opponent can beat you when it’s time to bet, don’t make a wager.

5-Card Stud Conclusion

This form of poker can be infinitely entertaining because there are more betting rounds and exposed cards that can help you determine your tactics. On top of this, the game requires some patience and careful evaluation of your opponents. The strategies are quite simple, and it’s easy to build up your skills.

Now that we have explained all the rules and details of the game, simply take a look at some online poker rooms or visit a live casino to try your luck at Five-Card Stud!