5 Card Stud Poker

5 Card Stud Poker

If one was to look back at the roots of the game known as stud poker, one would find that one of the oldest forms of this variant is five card stud poker. The earliest reference of five card stud poker is during the US Civil War period, and evidence of the game is found as the popularity of poker expanded across America. Having said that, five card stud poker is strangely less popular today compared to other forms of poker such as Texas Hold‘em, even being left out of the World Series of Poker tournament. Nevertheless, in other parts of the world, five card stud poker has found a significant following among poker fans, especially in Finland which has players enjoying a variation known as Soko.

The appeal of five card stud poker is understandable, considering that the visible cards in the game allow players an advantage to make important decisions about their own hands. There are essentially four betting rounds in five card stud poker, therefore demanding more patience than the faster variants of poker. Players need to familiarize themselves with both five card stud poker and seven card stud poker in order to tell the difference between the two, as the similar rules could lead to a level of confusion otherwise.

In terms of strategy, five card stud poker requires a very specific strategy due to the unique number of betting rounds. Perception and careful judging of the situation is a strong requirement in this variant of poker, as players need to make important decisions about when to hold and when to fold. As with all types of poker, the main objective of five card stud poker is to be the player left standing with the best poker hand at the end of the game, and take home the pot.

Click for details on history, hand rankings/nicknames and poker terminology/glossary.

5 Card Stud Poker Play Sequence

While the rules of five card stud poker call for the game to be played in the following sequence, it is important to remember that these may vary slightly from situation to situation, according to the format that the game is being played in. Groups and dealers may change the rules slightly to suit the setting of the game.

  • Ante: Each player around the five card stud poker table places an ante bet. The poker room is usually the authority to determine the ante. Usually in low betting games such as 0.50/$1 games, the ante is not applicable.
  • The Open: Each player is dealt two cards in the first round of the game. The first player to receive cards is the one to the left of the dealer. The first card dealt is a hidden card (also known as a concealed or pocket card), while the second is dealt face up, and is known as an open card.
  • The second round of betting is started by the player with the lowest face up card. The betting process moves around the table from player to player.
  • Third Street: A second face up card is dealt to all players. The player with the highest face up card is the first to bet in this round (and subsequently all others).
  • Fourth Street: A third open card is dealt to all players around the poker table. The betting round continues. In terms of betting amounts, the minimum bet is raised to the higher minimum level, as per the rules of five card stud poker.
  • Fifth Street: The fifth and final card is dealt to all players around the table. This means that, in total, all players are dealt four visible cards and one pocket card during the game. This follows with the final round of betting.
  • The Showdown: Hands of all the poker players left in the game are compared, after the pocket cards are revealed. The player who has the winning hand as determined by the dealer takes home the pot prize.

Rules of the Game

  • The object of five card stud poker is to win the pot by ending the game with the best poker hand.
  • Playing and betting moves in a clockwise direction around the poker table. This is true for five card stud poker as well as all other poker variants.
  • An ante bet has to be placed before the first set of cards of the game is dealt.
  • The size of the ante depends on the limits set at the table. A $0.50/$1 table for example, will have no ante, while a $1 ante will be applied to tables with $10/$20 limits.
  • In five card stud poker, there are four betting rounds. This does not include the ante round.
  • The player who holds the lowest value face up card begins the betting in the first round only. According to the rules of five card stud poker, this bet needs to equal half of the minimum bet that was set for the game (at least).
  • In subsequent betting rounds, the player who holds the highest poker hand begins the betting. Should two players be holding the same poker hand, the rules state that the player who is sitting to the left of the dealer begins.
  • What determines the limit or maximum bet for each specific betting round? The rules state that these are determined by the stakes being offered at the specific table. At a $2-$4 table, for example, the limit on a bet is $2 during the first two betting rounds, followed by $4 for the last two rounds.
  • The lower limit of the poker table determines the betting limit for the first two rounds of the game. However, there is an exception to this rule in the case of a player displaying a pair after the round in the game known as the ‘third street’. Should this happen, all players are presented with the opportunity of betting the higher table limit during the second betting round. Should even one player choose to bet at this high limit, all bets following need to be at the higher limit. Needless to say, all final two rounds of the five card stud poker game are also set at the higher limit.
  • A player can make up to four bets in a betting round of the game. These are known as bet, raise, re-raise and cap.
  • To cap is considered the third raise of the betting process as there can be no more betting at this stage thereafter. If a cap bet has been placed, the only option left for the poker player is to call or fold his or her cards.
  • The player that is sitting to the left of the dealer at the poker table is the first to act in a betting round should a player fold.
  • Regarding the showdown stage of the game: The player who most recently showed strength with a bet or raise is the first player to show his or her cards.
  • Players need to display all five of their cards during the showdown stage.
  • The player left holding the best poker hand will win the pot.
  • If more than one player holds the best hand, the prize pot is split between all winners.

Tips for 5 Card Stud Poker

There are a number of tips that poker professionals are able to offer players in a bid to help them improve their strategies and become good five card stud poker players. These are as follows:

  • Flexibility: Players should learn the strategies explained to them, but they should always be poised to change their strategies if and when required. One of these rules of flexibility pertain to folding. If the opponent’s visible cards are obviously stronger, then players should show enough flexibility to fold if necessary.
  • Awareness: Players should always remain totally aware of what is going on around them at the poker table. There are definite advantages to knowing four of the five cards exposed at a five card stud poker table, and players should be aware of their opponent’s cards and use this information to their advantage.
  • Wisdom: There are several things to keep in mind when checking out the opponent’s cards. For example, five cards are needed to make a flush in each suite of 13 cards. If players note these cards in their opponent’s cards, then they will not land them themselves. However, if these cards are not visible, players stand a good chance of landing them themselves.
  • Patience: It has been noted before that five card stud poker requires vast amounts of patience – more than other forms of poker. The first reason is because of the four rounds of poker being played in each game, which is unique in itself. In addition, players need to have the patience to hold out until the final stage of the game – the showdown – which could reap fantastic rewards.

5 Card Stud Poker Hand Ranking Chart

Poker Hand Rankings

5 Card Stud Poker Hand Rankings

Hand Description
Royal Flush A straight flush involving Ten, Jack, Queen, King and Ace
Straight Flush Five sequential cards of the same suit with the high card being less than an ace
Four of a Kind Four cards with the same value
Full House Three cards of the same value and a separate pair of cards of the same value
Flush Five cards of the same suit
Straight Five cards with sequential values (cards of any suits)
Three of a Kind Three cards with the same value
Two Pair Two separate pairs of cards with the same value
Pair Two cards of the same value
High Card No other combination, the value of the highest card wins


It is easy to understand the attraction to five card stud poker, especially because the game requires practically no guessing since four fifths of the cards are already exposed. The game is also appealing to new players who don’t need to learn complex strategies.

The bottom line is that five card stud poker is less popular in the mainstream poker world but is still a much sought after pastime for recreational poker players.

Posted by CCJ Team