How to Play Five Card Stud Poker

Five Card Stud is one of the classic old poker games that is preferred by poker veterans. This game is often found at home poker games as opposed to casinos or online poker sites. Five card stud has a lot of tradition, and was the influence for many of the present day poker games such as Texas Hold'em and Omaha poker. This article will look at the history of five card stud, the full rules of the game, and the present day presence of the 5 card stud poker game.

Objective of Five Card Stud

Five Card Stud players have one goal in mind: to win the money in the middle of the table. There are two ways to do this - either by betting enough to scare everyone else out of the hand, or by having the best five card poker hand at the showdown. To become a winning player you should always maximize your betting when you have a good hand, and minimize your losses when you have a bad hand. Read on to learn the full rules of the game.

Structure of Five Card Stud

Five Card Stud is typically played at a table with a maximum of nine players. The game starts with each player making a forced bet, called the "ante". This ensures that each pot has money in it. Most Five Card Draw games are played in a Fixed Limit structure, but some online poker sites also offer Pot Limit and No Limit games as well.

Tables are identified based on their betting stakes. For example, a $5/$10 Fixed Limit game would have a small bet of $5 (used on the first two rounds of betting) and a big bet of $10 (used on the last two rounds of betting). We'll explain all of this in greater depth later in the article.

Five Card Stud Rules

Ok, now we'll get into the rules, how everything is laid out, and how you actually play 5 Card Stud.

Shuffle Up and Deal

The game starts with each player posting an Ante, which is a small forced bet that is usually 1/5th-1/10th of the small bet at the table. For example, a $5/$10 fixed limit game would have an ante between $0.50 and $1. After all antes are posted, the dealer deals each player one face down card and one face up card. You deal clockwise around the table, starting with the player directly to the left of the dealer.

The Bring In

Five Card Stud ImageAfter the deal, whoever has the lowest face up card has to bet the "bring-in", which is a forced bet made by that player. If two players have the same low face up card, the bring-in is decided by suit rankings (diamonds are best, then clubs, then hearts, then spades).

First Betting Round

After the bring-in, betting proceeds clockwise around the table. Each player has the option of calling the bring-in, completing the bet (basically a raise), or folding.

In Fixed Limit games, it's important to note that each round can only have three raises after the initial bet. The final raise is called the "cap", and after that no other players can make a raise.

Second Betting Round

After the first betting round is completed, each player who is still in the hand receives another face up card. Whoever has the best hand showing (out of the two up cards) is the first player to act, and can either bet or check. Play proceeds around the table clockwise until everyone has either called the highest bet or folded.

Third Betting Round

The next card is dealt to each remaining player face up, and there is another betting round starting with the player with the best hand out of their three up cards. Once again, the betting round ends once every player has either folded or called the highest bet.

Fourth Betting Round

After this round, another card is dealt out face up, so every player now has one down card and four up cards. There is another betting round, and if at least two players are still in the hand there is a showdown, with the best hand winning the pot.


If the hand goes all the way to a showdown, the players both flip up their hands, and the best five card poker hand wins. If you've never played poker before, here are the hand rankings:

Hand Rank: Hand: Example Hand:
#1 Straight Flush T-J-Q-K-A of the same suit
#2 Four of a Kind A-A-A-A-K
#3 Full House K-K-K-Q-Q
#4 Flush 2-6-8-9-A of the same suit
#5 Straight 5-6-7-8-9 Off Suit
#6 Three of a Kind J-J-J-4-8
#7 Two Pair J-J-K-K-A
#8 One Pair A-A-8-7-4
#9 High Card A-K-5-4-3

Fixed Limit vs. Pot Limit

Although Fixed Limit and Pot Limit have the same game structure, the betting structure is quite different. In Fixed Limit, there is a rigid betting structure that determines when and how much you can bet. In Pot Limit, the betting is only capped at the pot size, and there aren't really any other restrictions.

Fixed Limit Five Card Draw poker allows a maximum of four bets in each round - a bet, a raise, a re-raise and a cap. After the cap (the third raise in a betting round), no more betting is allowed. In Pot Limit games, there can be an unlimited number of bets and raises.

Where to Play 5 Card Stud?

Not many sites offer Five Card Stud, but we took the time to find all of the best 5 card stud sites. That page lists each site and their advantages, but if you'd like to quickly sign up to the best 5 card stud site, check out They aren't USA friendly, so if you'd like to find a USA friendly site with 5 card stud, head to the link above.

If your a USA player, check this page for a list of US friendly poker rooms with Five Card Stud

History of 5 Card Stud

Five Card stud was the earliest form of the stud poker game, and actually originated during the Civil War in America. It was popular among soldiers who would use the game to pass time at their war camps. Since then, it has diminished in popularity, but saw a resurgence in the 1970's during the early World Series of Poker tournaments that were held that decade.

Five card stud was a side event during the 1971-1974 WSOP events, and all four of those 5 Stud tournaments were won by Bill Boyd (he won a total of $80,000 for his efforts in those tournaments). After the 1974 WSOP, 5 card stud was dropped due to a lack of popularity, and it hasn't made an appearance in any WSOP tournaments since.

Besides the WSOP, 5 card stud made an appearance in the poker movie, The Cincinnati Kid, and was the game of choice for the showdown between the "the Kid" and "the Man". Since then, Five Card Stud has slightly fallen off, and is only found at a few online poker sites, and very few live casinos.

Five Card Stud Variations

Besides normal five card stud, there are a few variations that are different poker games but based on the same format. Here they are:

Canadian Stud

Canadian Stud is played exactly the same as five card stud, but with the introduction of two new hand rankings. First of all, four card straights count as a poker hand. They're ranked higher than a pair, but less than two pair. Also, four card flushes are another poker hand. These are ranked better than a four card straight, but less than two pair.

Two Down/Three Up

This game is the same as normal stud, but instead of having four down cards and one up card, you have two down cards and three up cards. The first two cards each player is dealt are face down, and the next three are dealt face up.

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