Seven-card stud requires an ante (a bet before receiving cards). The amount can vary, but it’s usually something less than the minimum bet. The dealer will collect the ante, then shuffle the cards and begin the hand.

Cards are dealt clockwise starting on the dealer’s left. Each player receives three cards for the first round known as third street . Two cards are face down and one is face up. Players carefully lift the cards that are face down and look at them, then put them back on the table.

The person with the lowest up card is now required to make an opening bet. If two people have matching low cards, the suits of the cards determine who bets first. They’re ranked alphabetically: clubs is highest, then diamonds, hearts, and spades. So a five of spades would bet before a five of diamonds.

The opening bet is called the bring-in. The required size of the bet can be the table minimum or something less, depending on the game. The player to the left of the bring-in now has the following options:

Fold: This is an unconditional surrender. The cards are taken and the player is out of the hand. Call: Match the previous bet. This allows the player to stay in the game and continue playing for the pot.

Raise: Match the previous bet and then bet at least that much more. This allows the player to remain in the game and requires everyone else to call the increased amount, raise, or fold.

Check: Neither bet nor fold. This option is only available in rounds where a bet has not yet been made. For example, everyone could check in round two. Players who check can’t subsequently raise in the same round unless check/raise is allowed.

Alison Mackenzie

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