7 Card Stud Eight or Better, also known as Stud Hi-Lo, is one of the most popular Stud variants in the world of poker. It is a tricky game, since you are not just trying to get the highest ranking poker hand, but also the lowest. The highest and lowest hands normally split the pot.
There are specific “qualifying” rules governing the Low hand however, which, if not met, sometimes eliminate the Low-Hand factor altogether, awarding the entire pot to the high hand winner. The Low Hand, or Eight or Better qualifications are as follows.
Qualifying Low Hand Rules
1.Aces are the lowest card (not highest, as in the high hand)
2.Straights/Flushes don’t count as combinations
3.There may be no card higher than an 8
4.No pairs, sets, quads, etc.
According to these guidelines, the best possible 7 Card Stud Eight or Better Low Hand would be: A-2-3-4-5. The weakest Low Hand that still qualifies would be 4-5-6-7-8.
Seven Card Stud Eight or Better Rules – Betting
7 Card Stud 8/Better is most always played in Fixed Limit, using two types of forced bets, the Ante and the Bring-In. The Ante is a very small wager placed by every player before the hand begins. The Bring-In is half the small bet, placed by the player with the weakest Door Card (the first card dealt face up). The Fixed Limit structures restricts all bets/raises to equal the low bet in the first two betting rounds, doubling to the high bet in the last three betting rounds.
Seven Card Stud Eight or Better Rules – Streets
Every time players receive one or more new cards in 7 Card Stud 8 or Better, it is called a “Street”. The initial deal consists of 3 cards – the first two face down and the last face up, called the Door Card. Since there are 3 cards dealt to each, this is known as 3rd Street. Between each Street is a betting round.
The 4th, 5th and 6th Streets each deliver one more card, face up, to active each player (those who have not folded). On the 7th Street, the final card for each player should be dealt face down. If you are at a full table of 8 players, and none fold out before the 7th Street, there won’t be enough cards. Instead, the 7th Street is dealt as a single, face up Community Card for all players to use as their own 7th Street.
Seven Card Stud Eight or Better Rules – Showdown
After the 7th Street, and the final round of betting, if two or more players remain in the hand a Showdown will occur. Since there are two hands to be displayed, the high and the low hand, we will split this into two sections…
High Hand: All active players will first combine 5 of their 7 cards to develop the strongest possible poker hand. The player with the highest ranking poker hand wins the first half of the pot.
Low Hand: These same players will combine any 5 or their 7 cards once more, this time in an attempt to create the best, qualifying low hand. The lowest poker hand wins the other half of the pot. Should no player have a qualifying low hand, the high hand winner claims the other half of the pot. It is of course possible for the same player to scoop the pot by winning both the high and low hands.
Seven Card Stud Eight or Better – Starting Hands
In 7 Card Stud 8 or Better, Starting Hand selection is a pivotal key to winning the game. Too many people put importance in the low hand, but this is a common, detrimental mistake. Instead, focus primarily on the high hand, and if the low hand plays in as well, great.
A premium starting hand is one that contains either rolled up trips, or a lot of outs. Good Starting Hands still have a lot of potential, but less outs. We’ll list these below.
Premium Starting Hands
Rolled Up Trips (ex: J-J-J)
Suited Connectors (ex: T-J-Q, all Hearts)
Two High, All Suited (ex: A-Q-3, all Spades)
High Connectors (ex: A-K-J)
Good Starting Hands
All Suited (ex: 4-9-J)
Connectors (ex: 3-4-5)
High Pair (ex: J-J through A-A)
Two High, One Low, with Ace: (ex: A-K-2)
You’ll note that several of these hands have high and low hand potential, but remember to focus on the high hand first and foremost if you want to be a consistent winner in 7 Card Stud Eight or Better.
To expand your knowledge further please read our 7 Card Stud Eight or Better Strategy Guide.