7 Card Stud Hi Lo - Real Money Games, Rules & Strategy Tips
Seven Card High Low Stud Poker is a challenging game because it's not very easy to learn and master. The help along these lines here is basically from those that are generally accepted as seven hi lo experts. I think that when you learn the ropes, you will like having an edge against most other players in the game.
Limit Seven Card High Low Qualify Poker Rules - 2 to 8 Players
- Highest hand splits the pot with the lowest qualifying hand
- To qualify for the low half of the pot, the low hand must be 8, 7, 6, 5, 4, or lower
- Lowest upcard is a forced starting bet
- Ace plays both high and low
- Three raise limit per round
- Cards speak
The image below depicts the card distribution and betting procedure for Seven Stud High Low.
How to play a $2/$4 Seven Card Hi Lo Qualify Eight game:
After all players have anted $.50, (1.) Each player is dealt two cards face down and one face up. The player with the lowest upcard* makes a forced bet of either $1 half minimum or $2 full bet (player's choice) to start the game. The rest of the players, in clockwise order, either call the opening bet, raise it, or not call and "fold" their hands back to the dealer.
(2.) All get a fourth card face up followed by a round of $2 betting. From this round on, the player with the highest upcard(s) is always first to check or bet.
(3.) After the fifth card is dealt face up, the minimum bet goes to $4.
(4.) The sixth card is dealt face up and there is another round of $4 betting.
(5.) The seventh and last card is dealt face down and followed by the final round of $4 betting. The dealer then determines the winning high hand and low hand, if any, and awards the pot. The ideal result, of course, is to win both ends of the pot with a low straight, a low hand with a flush or any other hand that will win the whole pot, including a high hand when nobody qualifies for low.
*(Note) Only for the purpose of determining the starting lowest upcard in the case of ties, the card denominations are sub-divided by these suit values in descending order: Spades the highest, through Hearts, Diamonds, and Clubs the lowest.
In this game the high hand winner must split the pot with the player with the best qualifying low hand. There is always a high hand winner but not always a low. For a hand to qualify for low, it must have five denominations no higher than an eight. Any five of your seven cards may be played for high and any five can be played for low. Aces are played both high and low.
Straights and flushes do not disqualify a hand for low, so a player ending with 5 4 3 2 A would have an unbeatable low hand and a 5 high straight to play for high. This hand would have an excellent chance of winning both ways. In this example, the player could also have another hand that is higher than the 5 high straight to play for high.
The most important thing to keep in mind in split pot games is the big profit difference between winning half the pot and "scooping" it all. Beginners tend to think that winning two split pots is equal to winning one full pot. Not so at all from a profit point of view! Scooping the pot usually builds a healthy addition to your stack of chips. Getting half often puts you barely ahead of where you were before you started playing the hand.
Winning Seven Card High Low players often have to settle for half, occasionally lose both high and low, but ALWAYS play only hands that have a good chance of winning it all. They never play for one side only unless they have an almost or certain unbeatable one way hand or have a probable "escape" on seventh street already made.
The second most important thing to do in Seven Hi/Lo is to get out EARLY when it looks like you don't have the best probable scoop hand! As soon as hands that start out with good possibilities for both high and low turn into probable losers for either end, they should be folded unless they are almost certain winners for half of the pot. This also applies to strong high hands that are not an almost certain high end winner, that will probably have to split with a low.
- High Cards
- 9 up to A
- Low Cards
- A up to 8 (Ace can be played as the lowest denomination or the highest)
- Split Pair
- Starting hand with one of your pair cards down and the other up.
- Concealed Pair
- Starting hand with both of your pair cards in the hole and your side card kicker up.
- (5 4 3 2 A) Can be played as the lowest possible hand, a straight for high or both.
- Door Card
- The exposed upcard of a starting hand.
- Dead Cards
- Cards that have been revealed and no longer in the deck.
- Win both high and low ends of the pot or win it all with a high hand when there is no low.
- Fast Play
- Bet, raise and re-raise to get as many other players out as possible.
- Slow Play
- Just check or call along to keep other players in the game and increase the pot odds.
- Check when you can and fold if you are bet into. Gladly accept all free cards offered.
Normally Playable Starting Hands
Trips - (QQQ) Fast play face cards. Slow play with Aces and all others on third street, then play fast.
3 Low to a Straight Flush - (7d 5d 3d) Play the same as 3 LOW to a FLUSH below.
3 Low to a Straight - (6h 4s 2c) Play the same as 3 LOW to a FLUSH below.
3 Low to a Flush - (3c 6c 8c) Slow play these three similar hands. Check-fold on fourth street if you pair up or don't improve your high side and are facing two or more better low hand draws.
3 Low with an Ace - (8 4 A) Check-fold on fifth street if you don't have trips or aces over and are facing two or more better low draws.
Low Pair with an Ace - (66 A) Check-fold on fifth street if you don't have trips or aces over and are facing two or more better low draws.
Low Pair with Two to a Low Straight - (44 7) Usually check-fold if you don't improve your hand on both fourth and fifth streets.
High Pair / Faces - (KK QQ JJ) Play these fast, split or concealed, if they are not overcarded on the board. Try to drive the weak low hands and high draw hands out. Usually fold if you haven't improved by 5th street.
Pair Aces with High Kicker - (AA J) Play the same as a High Pair of Faces (above).
Pair Aces with Low Kicker - (AA 6) Play fast to reduce the number of players. Consider folding on fifth street if you haven't improved high or don't have a good low draw.
Pair Nines or Tens with an Ace - (99 A) (1010 A) Slow play and check-fold on fourth street if you don't catch trips or aces-over right away.
3 Card High Straight Flush - (10h Jh Qh) - Slow play and usually check-fold on fifth street if you haven't caught a two or three way draw hand or better.
2 Low and 1 High to a Flush - (3d 7d Kd) - Slow play and usually check-fold on fourth street if you don't catch low to your flush.
Normally Not Playable Starting Hands
High Straights and High Flushes
Unconnected Low Cards (that can't make a straight) without an ace or flush possibilities
Pair of Nines or a Pair of Tens without an Ace Kicker
Unpaired High-Low Combinations
- The first four cards are a major key to winning at Seven Card Stud games. If your starting hands develop according to plan, you can be a strong favorite to scoop the pot. If they don't, you get out early and escape the expensive second best experience. The three card starting hands recommended above are those with at least a reasonably good chance of producing a dominant four card hand. Clearly, good four card hands that are carefully played don't always win but they win a lot more than the others.
- Beware of the paired door card. If an opponent is playing a pair in his starting hand, and pairs his door card (first upcard), the odds are two out of three that the door card is part of his pair. A paired door card presents a strong possibility that the holder has a dangerous set of trips (especially if it is a high card).
- Bet your playable hands. As a general rule, usually bet rather than check hands that you would call if someone else were to bet. Many times your competitors are waiting for someone to bet so that they can fold. Normally only check hands that you intend to fold if someone bets.
- High Pairs increase in value over low draw hands when it is down to one or two competitors. When a high hand is heads up against a low draw, the high hand usually has the edge.
- Watch the board closely for key cards that can seriously diminish your chances of making a good hand. Don't play marginal starting hands like pairs, if both your pair cards and side card are completely "live" (none of your cards showing on the board). Also play low straights cautiously if your key cards are not live.
- Keep track of the fives and fours, both on the board and folded. These are key cards in all low straights.
- Usually avoid or play door card eights cautiously. They can reveal weakness in your hand and get you trapped in a high vs low jamming contest between other players with very strong hands in the late streets.
- Beware of multiple "check-arounds" on 7th St. Straight and flush draws often hit on the last card and there is usually so little in the pot that your last card pair of Aces etc. is not a very good bet.
- Stay aware of what your up-cards reveal or might mislead your opponents. This can give you clues to their hands when they bet into you, especially in low hand battles.
- Try to find reasons to fold both your starting hands and those that develop on the later streets. Look for a dead card or two in the denomination that you need and for three or more dead cards in the suit that you are drawing to. Look for too much strong competition developing for the high and low prizes that you are after. When you can't find reasons to fold, you can then proceed more confidently.
- Study your opponents, especially when you are not playing hands and can pay careful attention. Do they find more hands to play than they fold? Do they bluff? Can they be bluffed? Do they have any "tells" (give away mannerisms) that disclose information about their hands etc.
- Get caught bluffing once in a while. It is a way to vary your play and not be too predictable. You win pots that you don't deserve when your bluff works. You lose a few chips when it doesn't work but it will get you calls from weaker hands down the line when you are really strong and need the action.
- Usually fold if your complete hand is beaten on the board by an opponent's upcards. (Unless you are playing a strong draw hand)
Have fun and GOOD LUCK!