Dating from the time of the American Civil War, stud poker was once one of the most commonly played variants of the game. In recent times however, the number of people playing the game has dwindled in comparison to other forms of the game, such as Texas Hold Em and Omaha. Recently however, the game has undergone something of a revival, if not in the casino halls dotted across the globe, then certainly in the digital environment of the Internet.
Many online casino’s offer players the chance to play 5-card stud poker and if you fancy trying your hand at this intriguing form of the game, then read the detailed explanation below on the rules and regulations of the game.
Players new to 5-card stud poker will immediately see the major differences between that and other more familiar variants of the game. Firstly, there are no community cards in 5-card stud, secondly some of the terminology used to describe the dealing of the cards is different (there is no ‘flop’, ‘turn’ or ‘river’) and lastly, how the betting rounds start are also different.
Like all poker games, the aim of the game is to get the best possible poker hand with the cards in your possession and at the same time, to get your opponents to commit as much of their cash into the pot as possible for you to win. The stronger your poker hand is, the more likely you are to win, but in order to entice other players to bet money into the communal pot, it may be necessary to bet strategically to encourage them to win, or ‘muck’ your cards (quit the game) if you feel your hand has no chance of winning.
How you play a hand
Initially, the computer, acting as the croupier, will deal each person in the game, starting from the player on the left of the dealer, one card face down (the ‘hole’ card) and one card face up. The person with the lowest value face up card will place some money into the communal pot known as the ‘bring-in’. This ensures that there is always some money in the pot to play for.
TBetting begins with the player who has been dealt the highest ranking face up card out of all the players. Like other forms of the game, players can pass, call, raise or fold their hand. When the round of betting is complete, a second face up card is dealt to all players remaining in the game.
The process then continues with another round of betting, followed by a fourth card dealt face up, then one more round of betting before the fifth and final card is dealt face up. The final round of betting then follows and a winner is either declared by other people folding, or by any remaining players revealing the best hand by turning over the face down ‘hole’ card. Once the hole card is revealed, the winner is decided and they receive all the money that has been put into the pot.
It is important to note that many hands of 5-card stud poker do not actually reach the point where the ‘hole’ card is revealed. Many players are unwilling to gamble a lot of money on a card they have not seen and so many games are often decided after one, two or three rounds of betting.
Betting in 5-card stud poker is very similar to other forms of the game. If no money has been put into the pot before a player bets in any round of betting, then they can elect to pass. This means they elect not to bet at this time, but wish to remain in the game to see what other players may do. In casinos, this was signified by players knocking on the table twice and in computerised variants of the game, this move is often signified by the sounding of two knocks from your PC.
If any player makes a bet however, players now cannot pass and must decide to make one of three other choices. If the player wishes to remain in the game, but does not want to put any additional money into the pot, then they can call by matching the amount of cash of the highest bet into the pot. If they feel they are in a strong position however, they can raise, by matching the previous highest bet and then adding some more of their own cash into the pot.
If a player feels however that their position in the game is unwinnable or too risky, they can elect to fold their cards and quit. In 5-card stud poker this is known as “mucking your hand”. The player then sits out the remainder of this game before rejoining in the next hand played (if they elect to do so).
Because all players can see the face up cards and no player has seen the face down card, there are fewer options for players to bluff and bemuse opponents in 5-card stud poker. Betting therefore tends to be based upon the cards people can see as they are drawn. In each round of betting, the player with the best hand based from the face up cards they have been dealt, starts the betting.
Strategies for success
In films such as Maverick, the drama of turning over the hole card to snatch an unlikely win from the jaws of certain defeat means that it is tempting for some to try and stay in a game until the hole cards are revealed. This however is a very risky and expensive strategy to follow!
The key to successfully playing 5-card stud poker is to understand the odds of success of your hand compared to other players. Knowing how likely your opponent is to draw the card they need to win, compared to the card you need to win, is key and this is only achieved by learning the probability of certain cards being drawn.
Like all games of chance, you cannot control the cards you are dealt so you should always play the odds when they are in your favour. Put all romantic notions of Hollywood films aside and play percentages and you will find you become a better, tighter and more profitable player.