Seven-Card Stud is one of the more complex poker games to play well. It requires good powers of observation, a sharp memory and patience.

With four cards exposed for each player by the last round, an important element in Seven-Card Stud strategy is noting which cards are available to each player AND which cards were discarded when other players folded. This will help tell you which cards remain available and so might be among your opponent’s hole cards – the three cards they have hidden.

For example, if you’re up against an opponent with an exposed pair, knowing that the other two cards of the same rank are either in another player’s possession or were discarded when other players folded is obviously of value. You can then assess the relative value of your cards, confident that your opponent can’t be holding three or four-of-a-kind. If you’re hoping for a straight or a flush, you’ll also know whether you still have a chance of drawing the card you need. Cards that are still available are referred to as "live" cards.

Knowing When to Fold

The most important aspect of Seven-Card Stud strategy is knowing when to fold. If the cards don’t favour you, you should generally fold either at third street or at fifth, when the size of bets doubles. See Seven-Card Stud cards to play at these stages, and definitely consider bailing out at fifth if your hand is less than promising.

Seven-Card Stud Strategy beyond Fifth Street

If you haven’t folded at fifth street, it’s likely that the size of the pot means that it has become expensive to do so (you stand to lose more by folding than by continuing to bet). If your hand at this point is strong enough even just to beat a bluff, this is the time to call other players’ bets.

See poker bluffing and advanced poker bluffing for tips on how to bluff – and spot other players’ bluffs – as part of Seven-Card Stud strategy.