7 Card Stud Hi/Lo: Explanation of the Rules

Explanation of the rules of Seven Card Stud Hi/Lo 8 or Better

This type of poker is worldwide exclusively offered using the limit betting structure. It can be played with two to eight players. In contrast to Texas Hold'em there are neither blinds nor a button. In order to build a pot each player has to post a mandatory bet, the so-called ante, before the cards are dealt.

Gameplay

The player sitting in seat 1 to the left of the dealer is dealt the first card of the deck. Each player gets two cards face down and one card face up, which are dealt in clockwise direction. Then the player with the lowest open card has to post a forced bet, the so-called bring-in. If several players are showing the same open card, e.g. a , we'll use the suit rankings to decide who has to post the bring-in. The ranks of the suits are (strongest to weakest): Spades, Hearts, Diamonds and Clubs. Next to act is the player who is sitting to the immediate left of the bring-in. He can either fold his hand call the amount of the forced bet or raise to one of the two limits. If he decides to call the next player has the same options available. When there was already a raise in front of him the next player can also make a re-raise. The amount of the re-raise is also fixed. Thus, he can only re-raise to the amount of the lower limit.

Here is an example for illustration:

  • Example:

    We're playing $10/$20 Limit Seven Card Stud Hi/Lo. The ante is $2 and the forced bet is also $2. Player A has the lowest open card with the .
    He posts the mandatory bet of $2. Player B is sitting to his left and calls $2. Player C raises to $10, he makes what is known as a complete.

    If player D wants to raise now he has to raise to a total of $20.

Almost all variants using the limit betting structure are played with a „cap". The cap is usually reached after a total of four raises. In our example the maximum raise allowed is to $40, after that further re-raises are no longer permitted.

When the betting round is finished, the dealer deals each player left in the hand another card face up, the so-called „4th Street". In contrast to the first betting round now the player with the highest open card combination has to speak first. He can check or bet. If he wants to bet he again has to bet the lower limit amount, in our example $10. Unlike in Seven Card Stud Hi the players aren't allowed to bet the upper limit amount on Fourth Street, if somebody has an open pair. When somebody has bet the next players can again fold, call or raise. After a maximum of four raises there is a cap.

Subsequently each player still in the hand receives another open card „5th Street". In this betting round we switch to the upper limit, thus $20. If a player now wants to make a bet, he has to bet exactly $20 and when somebody wants to raise he can only raise another $20.

As soon as the round of betting is over the players receive a fourth card face up „6th Street". The following betting round looks exactly the same like the one on 5th Street.
The last, seventh card in Seven Card Stud Hi/Lo is dealt face down. It is also known as "7th Street", but also often referred to as the river like in Texas Hold'em. Another final betting round at the upper limit follows and when it is finished there is a showdown.

Determining the winning hand

At the showdown everybody forms the best possible five card poker hand out of a total of seven cards. The player who has the best high hand wins half of the pot. As in all other types of poker suits are not taking into consideration at the showdown. If e.g. two or more players have the same straight the pot is split accordingly.

In contrast to Texas Hold'em two players can have the same flush, but in two different suits.

  • Player A shows at the showdown
  • Player B shows at the show down

Without taking into consideration that spades are actually higher than hearts the high hand is split.

When determining the best low hand it gets a little bit more complicated. First of all we have to check if there actually is a qualifying low which is entitled to claim the low hand. In Seven Card Stud 8 or Better the name already suggests what is the most important pre-requisite for a qualifying low hand. A player who wants to claim the low hand, has to hold at least five cards from different ranks with the limitation on the ranks to be 8 or better, i.e. 8 or lower, whereas aces count low, i.e. as one. The ace is of particular importance in the Hi/Lo variants, since it can be used as lowest as well as the highest card in the deck.

But be careful: The cards have to be of different ranks, a pair or trips only count once.

  • Example:

    A player is holding . This player has a qualifying low hand and can claim half of the pot, if his hand really is the lowest.


    A player is holding : . This player can't claim the low half of the post, since he is only holding four low cards.

If there is more than one qualifying low hand, the player with the lowest hand wins half of the pot, whereas the highest of the low cards is decisive.

  • Example:

    Player A shows .
    Player B shows
Player B wins the low, because his highest low card is a 7 and therefore lower than the 8 of player A.

If two players have the same highest low card, the second highest low card decides who wins the low half of the pot. In case of another tie, the third highest low card, then the fourth highest and finally the lowest is the deciding factor.

If two players have the same five low cards and at the same time the best low hand, half of the pot is split accordingly, which means that both players win a quarter of the pot.

Straights or flushes are not taken into account when it comes to determining the best low hand. This rule can lead to the situation that a player wins both the high hand and the low hand and therefore scoops the pot.

  • Example:
A player has .

This hand is called a „wheel" and it is the best possible low hand. At the same time it also is a straight and will win the high hand as well if nobody has a better hand. In case the player wins both halves of the pot, then he scoops.


Every once in a while the pot is split into quarters. Two players are heads-up at the showdown. Both have the same low hand, but one of them shows a better high hand. In this case he wins the high hand and he splits the low hand of the pot. The player with the best high hand therefore wins 75 percent of the pot.

  • Example:

Player A shows . His high hand is an ace high flush, his low hand is 7, 5, 3, 2, A.

Player B shows . His high hand is two pair aces and sevens, his low hand is also 7, 5, 3, 2, A.

Player A wins in this example 75 percent of the pot, because his flush is better than the two pair of player B and the low hand is split due to the tie.


Another special rule deals with splitting pots when there is an odd amount in the pot. A pot is always divided by the lower limit. In a $10/$20 limit game a $230 pot is split into two unequal halves of $120 and $110. The player who won the high hand receives $120.
If in addition two players also split the low half of the pot, it is split precisely and not divided by the lower limit, in contrast to Omaha Hi/Lo. Both players who claim the low half each receive $55.

We can easily realize from this extensive article that the sheer rules of Hi/Lo variants are much more complex than in all other types of poker and it is absolutely necessary to learn them by heart, before making tentative steps in Seven Card Stud Hi/Lo 8 or Better.

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