How to Play Seven-Card Stud Hi-Lo Poker

Ready to learn the ropes of Seven-Card Stud Hi-Lo Poker? Enjoyed as one of the most popular poker variations, this guide provides an easy-to-follow introduction for beginners to the game, including rules, game play, and dealer etiquette. Start building your skills today!

How to Play Seven-Card Stud Hi-Lo Poker

Seven-Card Stud Hi-Lo, often referred to as Stud Eight-or-Better, is an exciting variation of traditional Seven-Card Stud poker. In this engaging and strategy-rich game, players can win pots in two ways - by having the highest hand, the "Hi" part, or the lowest hand, the "Lo" part. In this comprehensive guide, we'll delve into the intricacies of the game, the rules, some basic strategies, and frequently asked questions to get you started on your Stud Hi-Lo journey.

1. Understanding the Basics

What is Seven-Card Stud Hi-Lo?

Seven-Card Stud Hi-Lo is a poker variant in which the pot is split between the player with the best high hand and the player with the best low hand. If no one has a qualifying low hand, the entire pot goes to the player with the best high hand.

The Hi-Lo Split

The "Hi" part of the game follows the traditional poker hand rankings. The "Lo" aspect is a bit different. To qualify for a low hand, a player must have five distinct cards that are 8 or lower. The best low hand is A-2-3-4-5. Remember, straights and flushes don't count against a hand when determining lows.

2. The Rules: Step-by-Step Guide

Starting the Game

  1. Ante: Before the cards are dealt, all players place a nominal amount, known as an "ante", into the pot.
  2. Dealing the Cards: Each player receives two face-down (hole) cards and one face-up (door) card.

The Betting Rounds

  1. Third Street: Beginning with the player showing the lowest face-up card, betting ensues. Players can fold, call, or raise.
  2. Fourth Street: Another face-up card is dealt. Another round of betting follows, starting with the player showing the highest hand.
  3. Fifth and Sixth Streets: These proceed similarly to Fourth Street.
  4. Seventh Street (River): The final card is dealt face down. Final round of betting ensues.


After the final round of betting, if more than one player remains, there's a showdown. Players use any combination of five cards to create the best high and/or low hand.

3. Essential Strategies for Winning

Starting Hand Selection:

  1. For High: Aim for high pairs, especially if they're concealed in your hole cards.
  2. For Low: Look for three cards 8 or lower, ideally with an ace or a two.

Board Observations:

Always be observant. If your cards needed to make the best low are showing on the board, you might be better off focusing on the high.


If you're drawing to a strong high or low, consider semi-bluffing. This is especially potent if your board looks weak or non-threatening.

Mind the Dead Cards:

Always remember which cards have been folded. This is crucial information that can dictate your moves.

4. Common Mistakes to Avoid

  1. Playing Too Many Starting Hands: Be selective, especially in early positions.
  2. Ignoring the Board: Always be aware of the cards on the board and how they can impact your hand.
  3. Overcommitting to Low Hands: Remember, the pot is split. Don't pour all your resources into chasing the low, especially if it's marginal.
  4. Forgetting Dead Cards: As mentioned earlier, keeping track can give you an edge.

5. FAQs

  1. What's the difference between Seven-Card Stud and Stud Hi-Lo?

    • The main difference is in the pot distribution. In Stud Hi-Lo, the pot is split between the best high hand and the best qualifying low hand.
  2. How does a low hand qualify in Stud Hi-Lo?

    • A qualifying low hand must have five unpaired cards that are 8 or lower.
  3. Is A-2-3-4-5 the best low hand?

    • Yes, it's the best low hand, also known as the "wheel".
  4. Can I use different cards for my high and low hands?

    • Absolutely! Players can use any combination of their seven cards to make the best high and low hands.
  5. What if no player has a qualifying low hand?

    • If no player can make a qualifying low hand, the entire pot goes to the player with the best high hand.
  6. Is Stud Hi-Lo popular in poker tournaments?

    • Yes, it's a staple in many mixed-game tournaments and is a part of the prestigious World Series of Poker event lineup.
  7. How many betting rounds are there in Stud Hi-Lo?

    • There are five betting rounds in Seven-Card Stud Hi-Lo.
  8. Is the "door" card crucial to strategy in Stud Hi-Lo?

    • Yes, it influences your decisions and provides insights into other players' hands.
  9. Can I play Stud Hi-Lo online?

    • Definitely! Many major online poker platforms offer Seven-Card Stud Hi-Lo games.
  10. Is the strategy the same for Seven-Card Stud and Stud Hi-Lo?

  • Not entirely. The essence of some strategies might overlap, but Stud Hi-Lo requires players to juggle the dual objectives of winning both the high and low pots.

In conclusion, Seven-Card Stud Hi-Lo offers poker enthusiasts a refreshing mix of strategy, observation, and skill. Whether you're a seasoned poker player or a newbie, understanding the game can enhance your poker repertoire. Remember always to play responsibly and enjoy the thrill that Stud Hi-Lo brings to the table!