Stud 8 or Better is the Hi/Lo version of Seven Card Stud. It is a "split-pot" game that is quite popular. It is played with up to eight players at the table.
The First round:
A fresh table starts off with all the players posting the “ante” (putting a predetermined amount in the pot before the cards are dealt). This amount is based on the size of the game. A new game on an active table starts with all the players at the table posting antes.
In Seven-card stud 8 or better poker players receive seven cards, three "down" cards and four "up" cards.
After the antes have been placed each player is dealt three cards (two "down" cards and one "up" card). The "up" card is also known as the "door card" or "Third Street". The lowest "up" card must initiate the action with a "Bring-In" bet. (If two or more players have the same lowest card, the person who brings it in is determined by suit order progressing from clubs, diamonds, hearts, and spades.)
Each player is allowed one bet and three raises in each betting round. To continue to play, players must take an action from what is displayed to them on each "street" or betting round (unless they are all-in).
The Second Round:
After the first round of betting another card is dealt face-up to each player that still remains in the pot (those who didn't fold on "third street"). This is "Fourth Street" (the second round of betting). From "Fourth Street" on, the highest hand showing begins the action by checking or betting. If a player makes a single bet, the other players may call, raise the single bet or fold.
The Third Round:
Upon completion of the betting on "fourth street", another card is dealt face-up to those who remain in the pot. This is called "Fifth Street" (the third round of betting - which doubles (the value of each bet is double of what was available in the first two rounds) - and continues at this amount for the remaining betting rounds). The highest hand showing again starts the action by checking or betting.
The Fourth Round:
Upon the completion of betting on "fifth street", another card is dealt face-up. This is "Sixth Street" (fourth betting round).
The Fifth Round:
The final card is dealt down. The last card is also known as the "River Card" or "Seventh Street" (final round of betting).
Some standard rules:
A maximum of four bets, which includes one bet, and three raises are allowed for each betting round per player. To continue to play, players must take an action from what is displayed to them on each "street" or betting round (unless they are all-in). The term cap is used to describe the final raise in a round since betting is then capped and no one can make another raise. Once capped, players will have the option of calling or folding only. Folding can be done at any stage of the game. The action of folding basically shows the player cards being moved to the dealer. The player from then on would not be considered as part of the game. He/she would not have any rights over any pots created on the table.
Poker is typically played "table stakes", meaning only the chips in play at the beginning of each hand may be used throughout the hand. This means that the player cannot get additional funds from the cashier while he is in the midst of a game. The table stakes rule has an application called the "All-In" rule, which states that a player cannot be forced to forfeit a hand because the player does not have enough chips to call a bet.
Exceptions to the value of betting in each round:
A player who does not have enough chips to call a bet is declared All-In. The player is eligible for the portion of the pot to the point of his final wager. All further action involving other players takes place in a "side pot", which is unavailable to the player who has already gone All-In. When a player goes All-in, the pot currently at the center of the table, which has contributions from him/her as well, is treated as the main pot, over which the All-in player has rights. After the player goes all-in, all the new bets are placed in a side pot, over which only the contributing players have rights. The All-in player does not have any rights over the side pot. The side pot is then given to the next winning combination.
Upon completion of the final round of betting, the best hand wins the pot. (The pot may also be won by someone who bets without being called at any time during the hand.). Your "hand" is determined by using the best five of seven cards. A combination of the following may be used - Ř Five cards from the seven dealt to you Ř One board (community) card and four of the cards dealt to you. There is no qualifying on the "High" side - the best hand automatically wins half the pot and could win the whole pot. To win the "Low" side, however, you have to qualify (which is why the game is called Seven Card Stud "8 or Better").
To qualify for Low: It takes a five-card hand with different numerical values from Ace through eight (with the Ace being the lowest value) to qualify for the "Low" half of the pot. The best "Low" hand is A,2,3,4,5 (also known as the "wheel" or "bicycle"). The winning "Low" hand is the one with the lowest high card in it. If two or more players qualify for "Low" but have the same highest card, the second lowest high card (and if necessary progressing down to the third, fourth, or fifth lowest high card) would be the winning hand. For example, a 2,3,4,6,8 would be a better "Low" hand than an A,2,4,7,8.
Split Pot: Any leftover odd chip goes to the "High" hand. If two or more players tie for the "High" side of the pot and there is an odd chip, the player with the highest card in their hand is awarded the odd chip. (If they have the same high valued card, the suit takes preference going from Spades, Hearts, Diamonds, and Clubs.) If two or more players "tie" for the "Low" side of the pot and there is an odd chip, that chip is awarded to the player with the lowest card in their hand. (If they have the same lowest card, the suit takes preference in the order of Clubs, Diamonds, Hearts, and Spades.)
Some Things to Remember:
- Straights and flushes do NOT count against you on the "Low" side.
- You may use any combination of cards for the "High" hand or the "Low" hand or you may use the same cards for both the "High" and "Low" sides.
- If two or more hands are the same ranking, the winner is the one having the higher cards. For example, a Flush with an Ace high beats a Flush with a King high. If the poker hands remain tied, then the highest card not being held in common (the kicker) determines the winner.