How to Play 5 Card Stud: Must-Know Rules & Strategies 2024

how to play 5 card stud

Five Card Stud is one of America’s first and most iconic poker games, emerging during the American Civil War. It’s the game that started the Stud genre of Poker, rising in popularity in the Antebellum period of the United States.

The game became widespread on both sides during the war, and its popularity kept evolving. In this comprehensive guide, you’ll learn the basic rules of 5 Card Stud, the betting structure and limits, and the 5 Card strategy. So, let’s get started!


BASIC rules of 5 card stud

To start with 5 Card Stud, you’ll need at least two players seated at the table. Before the cards are dealt, each player must put in an ante, a small bet everyone contributes to the pot. The table stakes typically determine the size of the ante and can be as low as 10 per cent of the smaller bet. For example, in a $5/$10 game, the ante could be $0.50.

Once the antes are placed, the dealer starts distributing the cards, beginning with the player to their left. Each player receives two cards – one face-down (known as the “hole” card) and one face-up (known as the “door” card).

After the initial deal, the player with the lowest-ranking door card must place another mandatory bet called the “bring-in.” This bet is larger than the ante but smaller than the small bet. In our $5/$10 game example, the bring-in could be $2.

The suit rankings, from lowest to highest, are:

  • Clubs
  • Diamonds
  • Hearts
  • Spades

For instance, if Player A has the 2♣ (clubs) and Player B has the 2♦ (diamonds) as their door cards, Player A would be required to place the bring-in bet.

The player who posts the bring-in can either check (if no one has raised) or complete the bet by increasing it to the size of the small bet (in this case, $5). The action then proceeds clockwise around the table, each player choosing to fold, call, or raise. In this first betting round, all raises must be in increments of the small bet ($5).

The bring-in player (Player A) completes the bet to $5. The next player (Player B) can fold, call the $5, or raise it to $10. If Player B raises to $10, the following player (Player C) can fold, call the $10, or increase to $15. The betting continues until all players have called or folded the last raise. 

After the first betting round concludes, the dealer gives each remaining player another face-up card, known as “Third Street.” The player with the best face-up hand (highest-ranking cards) starts the betting round. They can either check or bet a small amount ($5). However, if a player has a pair showing, they can place a big bet ($10) instead.

For example, suppose the following hands are visible after Third Street:

  • Player A: A♠ (spades) 7♥ (hearts)
  • Player B: K♣ (clubs) J♦ (diamonds)
  • Player C: 5♥ (hearts) 5♣ (clubs)

In this scenario, Player C would start the betting round because they have the best hand (a pair of fives). Due to their pair, Player C can either check or bet $10 (the big bet). The action then continues clockwise, with the other players choosing to fold, call, or raise. 

On Fourth Street and Fifth Street, the dealer continues to give each remaining player another face-up card, followed by betting rounds. The big bet ($10 in our example) becomes the standard betting increment on these streets. The player with the best face-up hand starts each betting round, and the action continues until all players have either called the last bet or folded.

A showdown occurs if more than one player remains after the Fifth Street betting round. The players reveal their hole cards, and the one with the best five-card poker hand wins the pot. In a tie, the pot is split equally among the winners.

Also Read: How To Bet In Blackjack (Must-Know Strategies For Beginners)


5 card stud betting structure and limits

5 Card Stud is usually played as a limit game. That means that the amount you can bet and raise is pre-established.

For example, if you’re playing a 5 Card Stud game with $5/$10 limits:

  • The standard bet is $5.
  • The antes are usually much smaller and can be determined by the players. They can be as low as 10 percent of the smaller bet, which in this case would be $0.50.
  • The bring-in is more significant than the ante but smaller than the small bet, which in this case could be $2.

Betting in 5 Card Stud occurs in what we call ‘streets’. We number the streets based on the number of visible cards.

  • The first player can check the bring-in or raise to the small bet, which is $5.
  • If the player calls, the following player can fold, call the bring-in or raise to the small bet amount of $5. If the bet becomes $5, the other player can raise $5. Usually, games have a limit of three raises at this stage.

There are also Pot-Limit and No-Limit variations of 5 Card Stud. It all depends on the site, casino or home game you play at.


5 card strategy

While 5 Card Stud is a relatively straightforward poker game, there are several strategies we can employ to increase our chances of success. 

Starting Hand Selection

One of the most critical aspects of the 5 Card Stud strategy is selecting the right starting hands to play. Generally, we should look for high-value door cards, such as:

  • High pairs (Aces, Kings, Queens)
  • High-card combinations (Ace-King, King-Queen)
  • Medium pairs (Jacks, Tens, Nines)

For example, if we’re dealt A♠ (spades) face-up and K♥ (hearts) face-down, we have a strong starting hand and should consider raising when it’s our turn to act.

Position and Decision-Making

Our position at the table can significantly impact our decision-making process. Being in a later position allows us to observe our opponents’ actions before moving. 

For instance, if we have a pair of Queens (Q♣ face-up and Q♦ face-down) and the player before us with a King showing bets, we may want to raise to build the pot and protect our hand.

Bluffing Considerations

While bluffing opportunities are limited in 5 Card Stud, there are still some situations where a well-timed bluff can be effective. One common strategy is to steal the antes when we have a high-value door card, such as an Ace or King. 

Another bluffing opportunity arises when we have a hidden pair. For example, if we have 7♥ face-up and 7♣ face-down, we can represent a more substantial hand by betting or raising, especially if our opponents’ door cards are lower in value. However, it’s essential to be cautious when attempting to bluff in 5 Card Stud.

Evaluating Opponents’ Hands and Draws

As most of our opponents’ cards are exposed, it is crucial to pay attention to their potential hands and draws. By observing their door cards and the community cards, we can estimate the likelihood of them having a solid hand or drawing to a better one.

For instance, if an opponent shows two suited cards, there’s a higher probability they’ll draw to a flush. In this case, we should be more cautious about betting or raising with a weaker hand.

Also Read: How To Play 3 Card Poker: Must Know Tips And Strategies!

Adjusting to Game Variations

5 Card Stud can be played in various formats, such as high, low, or high-low splits. Adapting our strategy to the specific game variation is essential for success. In a high-low game, we should aim for hands that can win both the high and the low portions of the pot, such as a wheel (A-2-3-4-5) or a solid high hand with a low draw. In a lowball game, we aim to have the lowest possible hand, so we should avoid playing high cards and focus on drawing to the best low hand possible.

By mastering these 5 Card Stud strategies and continually adjusting our play based on our opponents’ actions and the game format, we’ll be well on our way to becoming skilled players. Remember to stay observant, be cautious with our bluffs, and always consider the strength of our starting hand and our position at the table.


In conclusion, 5 Card Stud has simple basic rules and a rich history. By understanding the betting structure, various strategies, and hand rankings given in this article, one can confidently dive into this classic poker variant. So, embrace the nostalgia and timeless enticement of 5 Card Stud and relish the thrilling ride this iconic poker game has to offer. Need more guidance? Stay tuned with us! 

Similar Posts

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *