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STUD POKER GAME VARIATIONS


Dealers Choice Poker Games: Stud Poker Game Variations


HomePokerEdge.com has "table tested" most of these dealers choice poker game variations and we think you will find them interesting, challenging and fun additions to your home poker game. In addition to explaining how to play each game, we provide valuable insider playing tips on how to win for many of these poker game variations.

The games described on this page are based on stud poker. The descriptions and instructions we provide assume you are already familiar with how to play the basic poker games. If you ever want to know more about any of these games, please let us know via our Contact HPE page. Ask a question or share your own playing experiences. We enjoy hearing from our readers and will provide a personal response.

Most of the games described on this page and throughout HomePokerEdge.com may be played as high-low split. In fact, we encourage playing high-low split. Playing high-low split poker games introduces many additional factors that must be considered. See our High-Low Poker guide for playing tips, hand odds or probabilities and much more information you will need to play high-low spilt poker games.

 

Pick & Roll

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A version of 5 card stud. Start by dealing each player 2 hole cards face down. Now, deal 1 card face down on the table and 1 card face up. Each player in turn now has to make 1 of 3 choices:
1. They may exchange one of their hole cards for the exposed board card. The board card is now the player's 1st up card. The player exposes 1 of his 2 down hole cards and this card becomes the exposed board card that can be selected by the next player. A fee of 2 minimum bets is charged whenever a player chooses this option.
2.They may exchange one of their hole cards for the unexposed board card. The player exchanges 1 of his 2 down hole cards and this card becomes the unexposed board card that can be selected by the next player. The player must select either this card or his remaining hole card to expose as his 1st up card. A fee of 1 minimum bet is charged whenever a player chooses this option.
3. They may expose 1 of their 2 hole cards as their 1st up card. This option has no fee.
A round of betting occurs after all players have made their choice.
For each of the next 3 rounds each remaining player is dealt 1 card down. Again, in turn, they must make one of the 3 choices. At the completion of each round a player exposes 1 card so that by the end each active player is showing 4 cards and has 1 down hole card.


2 By 4 Stud Poker

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Standard high-low 7 card stud, but to win the pot a player must have at least 2 of the following 4 requirements:
1. The highest spade in the hole. (Ace is highest card.)
2. The lowest spade in the hole. (Deuce is lowest card.)
3. The best high poker hand.
4. The best low poker hand.
It is recommended to play 2 by 4 stud under 5432A low hand rules.
If no single player has at least 2 of the above qualifiers, the game is played again.
Click here for Playing tips for 2 by 4 Stud Poker


Crazy Nostradamus Stud Poker

 

Crazy Nostradamus Stud can be played as 5, 6 or 7 card stud. Before receiving each of their up cards, every player must predict the rank and suit of the card they are about to receive.
If they correctly predict the suit of the card: They receive an additional up card, but must pay 1 bet to the pot.
If they correctly predict the rank of the card: They receive an extra down card for free.
If they correctly predict both the rank and suit of the card: They receive both 1 extra down card and 1 extra up card, both for free. Additionally, all the other live players in the hand must add 1 bet to the pot.
If the card received is neither the color (red/black) nor rank of the card predicted, the player must add a single bet to the pot.


Nostradamus Stud Poker

 

Nostradamus Stud can be played as 5, 6 or 7 card stud. Before being dealt their up cards, each player predicts the rank of the card they are about to be dealt. If their guess is correct they receive an extra down card which is dealt immediately. Additionally, all the other live players in the hand must add a single bet to the pot.


Cow Pie Stud Poker

 

A split pot version of 7 card stud. Deal, play and bet exactly like 7 card stud. At the completion of 7th street betting, each player re-arranges their cards into 2 separate hands. One is a regulation 5 card poker hand. The other is a 2 card poker hand. Up cards must remain up and down cards must remain down. In arranging the 2 hands, these important requirements must be met: The 5 card hand must out rank the 2 card hand and each hand must include at least one down card. Once so arranged, there is a final round of betting. The hands are revealed and the pot is split between the highest 5 card hand and the highest 2 card hand. The 2 card hands are ranked as high card(s) and pairs only. If a player misplays his hand by creating a 2 card hand that is better than his 5 card hand, both hands are disqualified.
Click here for Playing tips for Cow Pie Stud Poker

Check out the wild card version of this game (Cow Pie Stud with Joker) on our Wild Card Poker page.


Hold Em Stud Poker

 

Hold Em Stud poker combines elements of Texas Hold Em and stud pokers. Like stud, every player's hand includes up cards and down cards that are used solely by that player. Like Hold Em there are common cards that may be used by all players. Deal cards as follows and follow each with a round of betting:
2 down cards to each player.
1 up card to each player and 1 common board card.
1 up card to each player and 1 common board card.
1 up card to each player and 1 common board card.
Each player now has a total of 5 cards (2 down, 3 up) that may be used only by them. There are also 3 common board cards that may be used by all players. From these 3 common and 5 individual cards each player selects any 5 cards to make their hand.
Click here for Playing tips for Hold Em Stud Poker


2 Out of 3 Stud Poker

 

Standard 7 card stud, but to win the pot a player must have at least 2 of the following 3 qualifiers:
1. The highest spade in the hole. (Ace is highest card.)
2. The lowest spade in the hole. (Deuce is lowest card.)
3. The best poker hand.
If no single player has 2 of the above qualifiers, the game is played again.
Click here for playing tips for 2 Out of 3 Stud Poker


7 Card Stud High-Low, 8 or Better

 

Played exactly like 7 card stud. The variation is that it is played high-low split. The "8 or better" refers to the low hand, which must be 5 unmatched cards each of rank 8 or below. If no one has a qualifying low hand the entire pot goes to the high hand.

Many high-low split games can be played "8 or better". Sometimes players forget this important qualification. Make sure the low hand is always shown and meets this requirement.


High Chicago

 

Played exactly like 7 card stud. In High Chicago the highest spade that is one of a player's hole cards (not exposed card) splits the pot with the highest poker hand. If no player has a spade as a hole card, the highest hand wins the entire pot.
Click here for playing tips for High Chicago poker.


Low Chicago

 

Played exactly like 7 card stud. In Low Chicago the lowest spade that is one of a player's hole cards (not exposed card) splits the pot with the highest poker hand. If no player has a spade as a hole card, the highest hand wins the entire pot.
Click here for playing tips for Low Chicago poker.


Draft Stud Poker

 

7 card stud. The first 3 cards (2 down, 1 up) are dealt in the usual manner. The variation occurs on 4th, 5th and 6th streets. For each of these the same number of cards as there are remaining players are dealt face up on the table. The player with the lowest hand at that time is first to select his card from among those cards. Players select in order from lowest/worst to highest/best hand. 7th street is dealt as a down card in the usual manner. This variation should only be played for high hand, not high-low. The reason for this is that the lowest card on 3rd street will get the first pick. All they will have to do from then on is pick the lowest card round after round and virtually guarantee themselves the winning low hand.


Auction Stud Poker

 

A version of 5 card stud. Deal 1 card down to each player. For each of the remaining 4 rounds deal face up on the table 1 card for each player in the hand at that point. Each player will select one of these cards based on an auction. Players bid on the order in which they select their card. Bids may be from 0 to 5 bets. Each player places the chip value of their bid in their hand and reveal simultaneously. The player who makes the highest bid is first to select a card, the 2nd highest bid selects next, and so on. If more than 1 player bids the same amount, the closest to the dealer's left gets the first choice in the 1st & 3rd auction. The player closest to the dealer's right gets first choice in the 2nd & 4th auction. All bids are added to the pot. There is a round of betting between each auction round. Recommended to be played high-low split.


Socialist Stud Poker

 

Version of 7 card stud where the rich must give to the poor. Deal and play exactly like 7 card stud. The difference occurs when up cards are dealt on 3rd, 4th, 5th and 6th street. For each of those 4 rounds the players dealt the highest and lowest cards exchange them. The player with the high card takes the low card; the player with the low card takes the high card. The cards considered for exchange are only the cards dealt on that specific street. Cards dealt on previous streets are safe and not considered for exchange. For example, during the 4th street exchange cards dealt on 3rd street are not exchanged, etc. If there are multiple players with either the same highest or lowest card there is no exchange. Additionally, in any round where an exchange is made, each player must place an additional ante in the pot.
When played high only, the ace is the highest card.
When played high-low split, the ace is either the highest or lowest card. A player with an ace has the opportunity to designate it as either high and exchange it with the lowest card. Or, the ace may be designated low and exchanged for the highest card. Designating the ace high or low is only for exchange purposes. In the final hand it can be used any way the player wishes.


Heart Transplant

 

7 Card stud. Any time a player is dealt a card from the heart suit as an up card, that player may choose to take any card (an up or down card) from any other player. If it is an up card it remains up; if down it remains down. The player who loses a card is dealt a replacement card from the deck as a down card.
May also be played as 6 card stud.


Pineapple Stud Poker

 

7 card stud. To start the game deal 4 cards face down to each player. From these 4 cards each player selects 1 card as their first up card, 2 as hole cards, 1 card to discard. Play then procedes as usual for 7 card stud. Best played with 7 or fewer players. Re-use the cards initially discarded if you run out of cards.

The "Pineapple Principle" can be applied to just about any version of stud. Just make the obvious modifications to fit the game. For example, to use it with 5 card stud make an initial deal of 3 down cards. 1 is kept as the hole card, 1 as the first up card and 1 is discarded


7 Card Stud, No Peek

 

Each player is initially dealt 7 cards all of which are dealt down. NO player is allowed to look at any of their cards, they must keep them face down in a pile in front of them. The player to the dealer's left turns over one card. There is a round of betting. The next player turns over his cards one by one until he has a higher hand. This is followed by another betting round. This continues with every player turning over his cards until he either runs out of cards or has the highest hand exposed on the board.


Razz

 

Razz is 7 card stud played for low only. Best hand is 5432A. Straights or flushes do not disqualify a hand. The low hand on the board begins each betting round.


6 Card Stud Poker

 

Players will end up with a total of 6 cards: 4 exposed and 2 hole cards. How they arrive at this depends on how the cards are dealt. The dealing options are "1-4-1" and "2-4" which are described below.

"1 down-4 up-1 down" Dealing: Start by dealing each player 1 hole cards and 1 up card. A round of betting follows. The 3rd, 4th and 5th cards are dealt up; the 6th card is dealt down. There is a round of betting after each card. There are 5 betting rounds with this option.

"2 down-4 up" Dealing: Start by dealing each player 2 hole cards and 1 up card. A round of betting follows. The 4th, 5th and 6th cards are dealt up with a round of betting after each card. With this version the number of betting rounds is reduced from 5 to 4.


5 Card Stud Poker

 

Initially deal 1 down card and 1 up card to each player. Then, 1 card at a time, deal the 3rd, 4th and 5th cards up.

Alternative: Played as above, except deal the 5th card down so that each player has 3 cards showing and 2 cards hidden.


5 Card Stud with Replacement

 

Played exactly like 5 card stud. However, after all the cards have been dealt each player has an option to exchange or replace one of his cards for a pre-set fee. (You can set the fee at any price you wish, but don't make it too cheap or too expensive. About 5-10 times the ante seems right.) If an exposed (up) card is exchanged, the replacement card is dealt exposed. If a hole (down) card is exchanged, the replacement is dealt face down. Replacement options are offered 1 player at a time starting from the left of the dealer. If the replacement option is originally declined it can not be taken later. Replacement is an option, not a requirement.


Give or Take

 

Version of 5 card stud. Deal first card face down to each player as usual. For the next 4 up cards each player is given a choice. Start each round of cards by dealing 1 card face up on table. The next player due to be dealt a card has the option of selecting that card as his up card or, for a fee, receiving the next unseen card from the top of the deck. If he selects the exposed card, another card is dealt face up on the table to replace it and the next player in rotation has the same options for chosing the card he/she wants. If a player passes on the exposed card and takes his next card off the deck, the exposed card remains for the following player to choose from. Once a complete round of cards has been selected the remaining exposed card is mucked. Each round of card selection starts fresh. As usual, betting occurs between each round of card selection. A fee (eg. 1-4 bets) should be charged whenever a player passes on the exposed card and chooses the card from the deck.

Optional rule of play:
If a player wishes to take a card from the deck, the player has the option to expose his current down card and take the card from the deck as his new down card. An additional fee should be assessed.


U Pick 5 Card Stud

 

Version of 5 card stud. Deal first card face down to each player as usual. For the next 4 up cards each player is given a choice. Start each round of cards by dealing 2 cards face up on table. The next player due to be dealt a card has the option of selecting 1 of those cards as his up card or he can receive the next unseen card from the top of the deck. If he selects one of the exposed cards, another card is dealt face up on the table to replace it and the next player in rotation has the same options in chosing the card he/she wants. If a player passes on the exposed cards and takes his next card off the deck, the 2 exposed cards remain for the following player to choose from. Once a complete round of cards has been selected the remaining exposed card(s) are mucked. Each round of card selection starts fresh. As usual, betting occurs between each round of card selection.

Optional rules of play:
1. Charge a fee whenever a player passes on the exposed card(s) and chooses the card from the deck.
2. If a player wishes to take a card from the deck, the player has the option to expose his current down card and take the card from the deck as his new down card. An additional fee is required.


Half-Blind Give or Take

 

Version of 5 card stud. Deal first card face down to each player as usual. For the next 4 cards each player is given a choice. Start each round of cards by dealing 1 card face up on table and one card face down. The next player due to be dealt a card has the option of selecting either the up card or the down card. If the up card is selected, it remains up in the player's hand. If the down card is selected, it remains down in the player's hand. Whichever card is selected, another card is dealt on the table to replace it and the unchoosen card remains. Each player in rotation has the same options for chosing the card he/she wants. Once a complete round of cards has been selected the remaining card on the table is mucked. Each round of card selection starts fresh. As usual, betting occurs between each round of card selection.


Jacks Back Stud High-Low

 

A version of 5 card stud played as high-low split. There are hand qualifying requirements for both the high and low. The minimum hand needed to win high is a pair of jacks. The low hand must be jack high or lower (i.e. 5 unpaired cards with no card higher than jack). Lowest possible hand is 5432A and staights and flushes do not disqualify the low hand, so a low straight or flush could scoop the entire pot. If there is a qualifying hand in one direction, but not the other, the single qualifying hand wins the entire pot. If no player has a qualifying hand, the game is re-played, but only with those players who stayed in the previous hand to the end.


Hex

"Hex" as in hexagonal. Each player is dealt 4 hole cards. Six cards are placed face down on the table in a hexagon shape. 2 cards are revealed at a time in this order (starting with 1 at the top): 1&3, 4&6, 2&5. Players make their hand by choosing from any 3 consecutive board cards (ie. 123, 234, 345, 456, 561, 612) along with their 4 hole cards.
Click here for playing tips for Hex poker.

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Rock-Leigh (Rock Lee)

 

Players are dealt 4 hole cards. Four sets of two board cards are placed face down on the table. One entire set is revealed after each round of betting. Players make their hands by using 3 or 4 hole cards PLUS 1 or both cards of one of the sets.
Click here for playing tips for Rock-Leigh poker.


Criss-Cross

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Place 5 cards face down on the table with 1 vertical row of 3 cards, and one card placed on either side of the middle card to form a horizontal row of 3 cards. Four cards are dealt to each player. Players select any 5 cards from their 4 hole cards plus the 3 cards in either the vertical row or the horizontal row to make their hand. Each down card is exposed after a round of betting, with the middle card exposed last.
Click here for playing tips for Criss-Cross poker.


Elevator

 

Each player is dealt 4 hole cards. The board cards consist of 2 vertical columns of 3 cards each. A single "elevator" card is placed between the 2 vertical columns. Reveal one entire column, then the other and finally the single elevator card, with betting rounds between. Players may use any 2 cards in a horizontal row, plus the elevator card (ie 3 cards in total from the board). That is: both top cards, both middle cards or both bottom cards, plus the elevator card. (ie. the elevator card "moves" up or down to what ever horizontal row you want.) Vertical or diagonal cards may not be used. Hands are made from the best 5 of 7 cards.
Click here for playing tips for Elevator poker.


Pyramid Steps

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Deal each player 4 hole cards. The board cards consist of 6 cards arranged in the shape of a pyramid of 3 horizontal steps or rows. The bottom row has 3 cards, the middle 2 cards and at the top is a single card. Players make their hand in one of 3 ways: Using all 3 cards in the bottom row plus 2 hole cards, using the 2 cards in the middle row plus 3 hole cards, or using the single card in the top row plus all 4 hole cards. Reveal the single top card first, the middle two next, and the bottom 3 last, with a round of betting between.
Click here for playing tips for Pyramid Steps poker.


Giant Pyramid Steps

 

Deal each player 4 hole cards. The board cards consist of 10 cards arranged in the shape of a pyramid of 4 horizontal steps or rows. The bottom row has 4 cards, the row (3rd) above has 3 cards, the next (2nd) row above has 2 cards and at the top is 1 cards. Players make their hand in one of 4 ways: Using all 4 cards in the bottom row plus 1 hole card, using all 3 cards in the 3rd row plus 2 hole cards, using both cards in the 2nd row plus 3 hole cards or using the single card in the top row plus all 4 hole cards. Reveal the top card first, the 2nd row 2 next, the 3rd row 3, and finally the bottom 4 last, with a round of betting between.


Cincinnati

 

Deal each player 5 hole cards and follow with a round of betting. Place 4 cards face down on board. Reveal one board card at a time followed by a round of betting. Players may use any combination of 5 cards from their 5 hole cards and the 4 board cards.


Train Wreck

 

Deal 5 hole cards to each player (if more than 8 players, deal 4 hole cards to each). Place 3 horizontal rows of 4 cards each face down on the table. Players will use their hole cards plus the cards in either the middle or bottom row (the play rows) to make their hand. The top row is refered to the muck row. As each card is revealed in the muck row, any player holding the same ranked card(s) in their hand must discard it. For example, if you hold a pair of sixes as hole cards and a six appears in the muck row, you must immediately discard them. Likewise, any card appearing in the other 2 rows that matches a card in the muck row must be removed. Reveal 1 card from each of the 3 horizontal rows, followed by a round of betting.


Train Wrecked

 

Train Wrecked is played exactly as described above as Train Wreck, but with this added rule: Should a player end up mucking all of his hole cards, that player immediately wins the entire pot.


 

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