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  • September 30, 2020

How to play Five Card Stud High-Low

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Seven Card Stud Hi/Lo is a technically demanding poker game where the best traditional ‘high’ poker hand and the best Ace to Five lowball hand split the pot at showdown. In Seven Card Stud Hi/Lo poker, players are individually dealt seven cards throughout the course of the hand, but only the best five-card hand possible for each player is used to determine the winner. Other details:

  • The deal and betting are mostly the same as in ordinary five card stud
  • A pair showing does not give players the option of a big bet or raise
  • The pot is split equally between the highest and lowest hands
  • The odd chip going to the high hand if the amount cannot be divided exactly by two
  • Any of the possible low hand ranking methods can be used (see it below)
  • In Seven Card Stud Hi/Lo, the low hand is played with an ‘eight or better’ qualifier.
  • Stud Hi/Lo uses the ‘Ace to Five’ or ‘California’ system for ranking low hands.

 
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Hand Ranking in Low Poker
Ace to Five
Straights and flushes do not count, and Aces are always low. The best hand is therefore 5-4-3-2-A, even if the cards are all in one suit. Then comes 6-4-3-2-A, 6-5-3-2-A, 6-5-4-2-A, 6-5-4-3-A, 6-5-4-3-2, 7-4-3-2-A and so on.
Deuce to Seven
The hands rank in almost the same order as in standard poker, with straights and flushes counting and the lowest hand wins. The difference from normal poker is that Aces are always high , so that A-2-3-4-5 is not a straight, but ranks between K-Q-J-10-8 and A-6-4-3-2. The best hand in this form is 7-5-4-3-2 in mixed suits, hence the name “deuce to seven”. The next best is 7-6-4-3-2, then 7-6-5-3-2, 7-6-5-4-2, 8-5-4-3-2, 8-6-4-3-2, 8-6-5-3-2, 8-6-5-4-2, 8-6-5-4-3, 8-7-4-3-2, etc. The highest card is always compared first, so for example 8-6-5-4-3 is better than 8-7-4-3-2 even though the latter contains a 2, because the 6 is lower than the 7. The best hand containing a pair is 2-2-5-4-3, but this would be beaten by A-K-Q-J-9 – the worst “high card” hand.
Ace to Six
Many home poker players play that straights and flushes count, but that aces can be counted as low. In this version 5-4-3-2-A is a bad hand because it is a straight, so the best low hand is 6-4-3-2-A. There are a couple of issues around the treatment of aces in this variant.

  • First, what about A-K-Q-J-10? Since aces are low, this should not count as a straight. It is a king-down, and is lower and therefore better than K-Q-J-10-2.
  • Second, a pair of aces is the lowest and therefore the best pair, beating a pair of twos.

Sources: pagat.com | pokerstars.com
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