The Rules of Stud Poker Eight or Better

What is Stud Eight or Better?

Stud Poker Eigh or Better is a variant that can be played at some online poker rooms and in some World Series of Poker tournaments. The variant is less popular than Hold'em or Omaha, but is just as interesting. Please note that the rules of Eight or Better Stud Poker are the same as the rules of Seven Card Stud, with the difference that the game is played in Hi-Low. What we mean by Hi-Low is that in addition to the Hi as it is the case in Stud games, 50% of the pot will be reserved for the person who will make the best low (see below for more details)

Before the cards are dealt

Some poker variants work with blinds (like Hold'em or Omaha), but Stud works with antes and bets. Tournament players will already be familiar with the concept; an ante is a bet paid by all players at the table before the start of all poker hands. In Stud, the ante will only be paid once, unlike the way tournaments are played. According to the game's limit, all players must therefore have paid their ante before the cards are dealt

A hand of Stud Eight or Better (bidding periods and streets)

Please note that not everyone agrees on the exact way to play this Stud variation, but in this article you will find the most common way to play

The first distribution of cards is done in two steps

  • Each player is dealt two hidden cards, one at a time, clockwise
  • Once all players have received their two hidden cards, each player is dealt a face-up card. In the first round of dealing, each player will therefore have 2 private cards plus one visible card

In Hold'em, we would have the preflop action here, but in Stud, this is the first betting round also called 3rd street

The player with the smallest visible card will open the bidding. This person will have to pay what is called the bring-in, which is half of the small pot limit. If two or more players have the same denomination, the player closest to the dealer will pay the bring-in. The player who pays the bring-in will not have to pay anything more to see the next card if no player raises in this round

If the player who is to put in his bring-in is already all in and therefore cannot do so, the bring-in must be paid for by the next player clockwise

The player to speak after him/her will be determined by the clockwise direction. As in all poker variants, you must pay the down bet to continue in the hand. Players remaining after the first round of betting will move on to the 2nd round of bidding (4th street). Prior to this period, each player will receive one visible card. At this stage, the player with the best visible combination will open the second round of betting. If two players have the same combination, the player closest to the dealer will speak first

We will then proceed to the third betting round (5th street). If there are 2 or more players left in the hand, a third visible card will be dealt. As is the case for 4th street, the player with the best visible combination will speak first. In this round of betting, the bets must be equal to the big limit

The next round of betting will take place after the deal of a fourth card visible to all players (6th street). The principle remains the same as before, the betting round will start with the player who has the strongest visible combination

The last card that players still remaining in the hand will receive will be hidden. We will talk here about the 7th street. Each player will have 3 hidden cards and 4 face-up cards. The bidding round will work as before

Note: If exceptionally all players are still in the hand and there are not enough cards left, the dealer will draw a card that is visible to all. This card will be the seventh card common to all players


This is where players still in the hand will have to compare their hands. The player who opened last must present his hand first. After the first player has shown his hand, subsequent players will not be required to show their hand if they are beaten. Only players with a better hand will have to show their cards

Since this is Stud Hi-Low, the pot will be divided into two parts; 50% for the low and 50% for the hi, in other words, the pot will be divided equally between the highest and lowest hands

IMPORTANT: All hands in Stud Eight or Better have a Hi, but not all hands necessarily have a Low. If no player qualifies for the low, the player with the best hi will win 100% of the prize pool

In a situation where two players would be tied for Hi and two other players would be tied for low, each player would win 25% of the initial prize pool

Rank of hands

In terms of determining the best hi, you probably won't have a problem, but determining the low might be new to you. At Stud Eight or Better, the "Ace to Five" or, as it is called, "California" system is used to determine the rank of the low hands. The ace will always be the weakest card. The best possible low will be the "wheel", 5-4-3-2-A. Here are 5 examples of possible lows, ranked in descending order of strength

  • 5, 4, 3, 2, A (nuts low)
  • 6, 4, 3, 2, A
  • 6, 5, 4, 3, 2
  • 7, 5, 4, 3, 2
  • 7, 6, 5, 2, A

General betting rules

In Stud, the possible options are: fold, check, bet, call, raise. Your available options will depend on the previous actions. If no player has bet before you, for example, the check option will be available. If a player has bet before you, the check option will be absent. Your options will then be to folder, call the bet or raise