Five Card Stud

Unlike Five Card Draw, Five Card Stud used to be fairly common in casinos, both offline and on. This game used to be the premier poker option, but today it has largely been replaced by Texas Hold’em and Omaha. In an offline live game, Five Card Stud is very difficult because you have to closely monitor all the cards showing on the table and recalculate your odds repeatedly through the hand. Further, it is a game where bluffing can be strategically employed, so this means you have to closely monitor each of the other players. While this last fact is true online as well, all the calculations can be done via computer in an online game, making it much easier to play.

The Basics

Five Card Stud is unique because almost all the cards are visible to the table. You are initially given two cards: one up and one down. After this you go through three more cycles of betting, each involving one more card being lain up on the table. So by the end of the hand, four out of every five cards held by each player is visible to all the others. Otherwise the rules and values are basically the same as in other poker games. The one small exception to this being that an ace can play either high or low in straights.

Since you can see most of the hands of all the other players as well as those cards that have been folded, observing what cards have already been played and thereby deducing what cards are still in the deck is essential to playing Five Card Stud. In live games this takes a lot of mental work as not only to you have to keep track of all the cards being played by everyone else, you also have to calculate what you need while closely monitoring the play behavior of the other people at the table. Subterfuge, such as bluffing, is a key tactic in Five Card Stud, so making assessments about the style of other players is also important.

Simple Strategies

Generally speaking, Five Card Stud is a game of high cards and pairs, not straights and flushes. Staying in a game chasing after a straight or a flush is usually a losing strategy unless you have three cards to a straight or a flush by the third street and you know the card you need is still in play somewhere. Since you can see most of your opponent’s hands you should be able to keep track of whether the card(s) you need are still “live” – or in play – or if they have been discarded. This is much easier in online Five Card Stud because the computer can be used to record what cards are have shown and to calculate the odds and percentages.

The primary key to winning at Five Card Stud is knowing when to fold. Basically, playable opening hands are: (a) having a pair of anything; (b) both your cards are higher than the rest on the table; or, (c) a hole card that is higher than any other card on the table. If you do not have at least a pair by the third card, you should probably fold. Unless your hole card gives you a strong hand, you should also fold if your total hand is beaten just by card you can see on the table. it is also important to note that bluffing is a major part of Five Card Stud, so from time to time it may be strategically wide to get caught bluffing, just to confuse your opposition.

Read More