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Introduction to Seven Card Stud Hi/Lo


In this article you will learn:
  • what Seven Card Stud Hi/Lo is
  • where you can play it
  • what you need in your bankroll to play

Seven Card Stud Hi/Lo (also known as Eight-Or-Better, Stud8b or just Stud8) is one of the many variations within the poker family. Unlike in Hold'em, there are no community cards in a stud game. Each player is dealt seven cards, three face down and four face up, and uses five of those seven cards to make his hand. You can find detailed rules in another article: Click here for that article

In Hi/Lo games, the pot is split between the best hand (Hi) and the worst hand (Lo). The Hi hand is determined according to the same rules you know from Hold'em.

Determining the Lo hand isn't that simple, as there are certain prerequisites that must be met in order to have a Lo hand at all. A Lo hand is made up of five cards, none, however, may be higher than an 8. Straights and flushes don't count as such for Lo hands, each card only has its face value. Pairs, for example two 2s, cannot be counted as two of the five cards in a low hand. In this case, only one of the 2s could be used as part of the Lo hand.

An ace can be used to make a Lo hand, as it can be either the highest or the lowest card in poker. As in Hold'em, the ace can be used to make two straights, either AKQJT or A2345. The latter straight is also referred to as the "wheel" and is the best possible Lo hand in Stud8.

At the end of each round, each player uses five of his seven cards to make two hands, one Hi and one Lo. If a player doesn't have a Lo hand, he can only play for the Hi half of the pot. An exception is made if no player has a Lo hand: in this case, the entire pot goes to the best Hi hand.

When it comes to Hi/Lo hands, there is one golden rule: you want to win (scoop) the entire pot and to do this, you need to have the best Hi and the best Lo hands. You might have a Royal Flush, but if your opponent has a better Lo hand you can only win half the pot. This means you need a different strategy for Stud8 than for regular Stud. A good hand in Stud8 has to have potential to be the best, as well as the worst hand.

Now for some differences you will encounter in Stud games as opposed to Hold'em: Stud games are usually played with a fixed limit, although there are online platforms that offer pot limit games. In Hold'em, there are four rounds of betting, whereas in Stud poker there are five rounds of betting. Another difference is that the blinds are usually replaced by antes, meaning every player posts an equal amount before the cards are dealt.

The dealer button has a smaller impact on the round of betting in Stud games than in Hold'em. The order of betting in a stud game is determined by the cards that are dealt face up: the player with the highest card opens the round. Once the 4th Street has been reached, the order of betting is determined by the highest combination of cards shown. You can learn the exact rules of betting in another article: Click here for that article

Why start with Stud Hi/Lo?

You might ask yourself if it makes sense to start playing a relatively unpopular game like Stud8 in the first place. There are, however, a few good sides to the game:

  • Playing Stud8 is fun. There are many possibilities for players to have a strong Hi or Lo hand, which provides for a lot of action and large pots.

  • Playing Stud8 is profitable. The fact that much less has been written on Stud8 than Hold'em makes it harder for weak players to recognize their mistakes and correct them. You can get an advantage by sharing your thoughts and experience with others, for example in the PokerStrategy Forums. Also, the fish you'll meet at the tables will have a harder time folding weak hands, since they are likely to have some kind of combination for the Hi or Lo pot.

  • It is always good to broaden your horizons in poker. Playing other games that are based on similar concepts to your favorite type of poker can bring helpful insight to the game in general - FL players should note that in higher limits, Stud8 is often a key part of mixed games. This is usually the case in live poker, however mixed games with high limits, such as HORSE (Hold'em-Omaha8-Razz-Stud-Stud8) can be found online too.

    In tournaments like the WSOP, many bracelets are won outside of No Limit Hold'em. There are fewer participants, which means there's a better chance at winning a prestigious title: the successes of Katja Thater (Razz), Micheal Keiner (Stud), Jens Voertmann (HORSE) and most recently Sebastian Ruthenberg (Stud8) provide fine examples.

Where can you play Stud8?

Stud8 isn't nearly as popular as Hold'em or Omaha on the Internet. Most of the action can be found at the bigger Poker Rooms.

When you are looking for a place to play, you should pay attention to the ante structure. High antes and constant stakes are favorable to looser play. This will weaken your edge against weak players, who play too many starting hands, but strengthen your edge against mediocre players, who are likely to play more marginal hands.

This effect isn't as high in Stud8 as it is in Stud Hi, however: it is easier to distinguish between playable and non-playable hands and stealing is not a big part of the game. A high ante will usually be around 1/5 of the Small Bet, a low ante around 1/10 of the Small Bet.

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How much do you need in your bankroll?

Your bankroll is the total amount of capital you have for playing poker. Your stack is the amount of money you have at a table, so that's the portion of your bankroll currently in play.

A poker player and his money are like a handyman and his hammer. Of course, you can play with chips instead of cash, but without chips or cash you can't play poker - if the bets have no value then you aren't really playing poker. Your bankroll play is as elementary in Stud8 as in Hold'em.


Since Stud8 has one more round of betting than Hold'em in which Big Bets are made, it is advisable to have at least 16 Big Bets at the table (as opposed to 12 as in Hold'em). Usually each street won't be bet to the cap, but you don't want to end up with a monster hand and too few chips to keep calling/raising. It's best to sit down with more than 16 Big Bets, so you don't risk forgetting to re-buy.


Due to lower variance in Stud8 as opposed to short handed Limit Hold'em, a bankroll of 300 Big Bets is sufficient for playing Stud8. When it comes to high stakes games with aggressive players, you can be somewhat more conservative, especially if the games tend to end up short handed.

If you are just starting out in Stud8, it is advisable to begin at stakes below your bankroll limit until you have gained enough experience. Keep in mind that you are basically learning a whole new game: even if you have a large bankroll, you should start off in the lower limits until you have a good feel for the game.

Where can you find good literature on Stud8?

Since the PokerStrategy articles on Stud8 only deal with the basics, an ambitious player should look for more information. An excellent book on Stud8 and Omaha8 is Ray Zee's "High-Low-Split Poker, Seven-Card Stud and Omaha Eight-Or-Better for Advanced Players."

Another good article from Todd Brunson can be found in "Super System II." David Sklanksy's, "7 Card Stud For Advanced Players" is a good read too, with good information on the concepts of Stud Hi and Stud8.

Overview of the basic articles

The PokerStrategy articles on Stud8 offer a good start. Aside from the introduction and explanation of the rules, you will find articles on each street.

The rules of Seven Card Stud Hi/Lo

Click here
How to play 3rd Street

Click here
How to play 4th Street

Click here
How to play 5th Street

Click here
How to play 6th Street

Click here
How to play 7th Street

Click here


Seven Card Stud Hi/Lo can enrich your game experience and the articles in this section will help you get a good start. You can watch the following video from PokerStrategy coach FjodorM to get an impression of the dynamics of the game: Seven Card Stud Hi/Lo Session review

It's also a good idea to use the forum to discuss the game with other players. A few articles and videos on Stud8 aren't enough, so learn from the experience of others. Click here for the Stud forum

The importance of bankroll management is nothing new to PokerStrategy members who have reached silver status or better. Start off with low limits, even if your bankroll will allow you to play higher limits. This will certainly save you frustration later on down the line. The last thing you want is to end up being a fish at the Stud8 table.

Stud8 is a complex game, so take your time and enjoy learning it. Don't worry too much about profit at the very beginning.


Comments (3)

#1 mouse89, 03 Nov 08 20:58


#2 ps4ch, 14 Mar 10 22:32

worst hand (lo)? :D It does not have to be the worst hand

#3 surfwell1818, 07 May 14 06:57