Stud Poker

Seven Card Stud is the archetypal poker game. (Only children play Five Card Draw.) I've happily played Seven Card Stud for hours on end (ie, "as long as my money held out") in casinos. I can't quite imagine that anyone doesn't know how to play Seven Card Stud, but:
Each player is dealt two cards down and one card up. High card starts the bet. (In casino play, the high (or low) card may have to bet.) When everyone has called or folded, the "pot is good" and the remaining players get another card up. The highest two card (showing) hand starts the betting. There are two more up cards and betting rounds; the final card is dealt face down and there is one more betting round.
Stud is usually played winner take all, though it can be played high/low. Some people like lowball, but we tend not to: There are a lot more low hands than high hands, and so it's a lot easier to crowd up against the lowest possible hand than against the highest possible hand.

Five Card Stud is very similar, except that you are dealt one card up and one card down, and get a total of four up cards (ie, four betting rounds).


Maverick is just like except that the last card is dealt face down, making the up/down ratio more like Seven Card Stud's.

Maverick can be played "with a buy" option: after the fifth card (fourth betting round), each player has the chance to replace one of their cards. Replacing an up card costs 25 cents (the 'normal' raise limit) while replacing a down card costs 50 cents (the 'last round' raise limit.) After everyone has had a chance to replace a card, there is one more betting round.


Baseball is a great game, with some weird rules based loosely on that strange boring game played with balls and sticks and leather gloves. In its most basic form, it's seven card stud, with threes and nines wild. If you get a three face up, you have to pay for it. ("Threes are not free.") Three's usually cost 25 or 50 cents, though 'match the pot' has its fans. A four face up gets you another card face down.

Some people like to divide the rule set into endless layers and give each layer a name like "Major League Baseball", "All Star Baseball" and the like. But he moved to San Francisco years ago, and we generally play either the simple ("Little League") game, or the full fledged game:

In addition to the basic rules about threes and nines and fours, a pair of fours is wild. If you play a pair of twos, one of them is wild, but the other one is just a two. If the Jack of Spades is ever dealt face down - even to a player who folds - all wild cards are off.

In Nighttime Baseball, you are dealt seven cards face down. You may rearrange these as much as you like, but you shouldn't look at them. The dealer turns one card face up, and the player to his left has to beat it. When he's done so (with a higher card or a pair) he opens a betting round. Obviously, it's pretty likely that someone will be able to beat this first 'real' hand, but that gets less likely as play moves around the table, each person having to beat the hand to their right. As in basic baseball, threes and nines are wild ("threes are not free") while fours get you another down card.

Follow The Queen

Follow The Queen is normal seven card stud except that the first card dealt face up after a Queen is wild. This simple definition leaves two questions open: What happens if more than one queen comes up? and What happens if the last card up is a queen? These questions drive the four basic variations:
No more than one wild card Multiple wild cards
There's no card to be wild after a final Queen! non-cumulative, reset cumulative, reset
A final Queen is nothing special. non-cumulative, no reset cumulative, no reset
That is, in a non-cumulative game, a second (or third or fourth) Queen invalidates the current wild card and creates a new one while in a cumulative game, multiple Queens just make for multiple wild cards. In a reset game, a final Queen invalidates all wild cards while in a no-reset game, a final Queen leaves any wild cards intact.

One popular variation is to add ambivalent clubs. This means that there are five Queens to be followed: a Queen of clubs face up is not a Queen that can be followed, while a Jack or King of clubs is. Similarly, if a club follows a queen, there are two new wild cards. For example, if a Jack of clubs is followed by a five of clubs, fours and sixes are wild.

At one point, we played a lot of Follow The Queen variants where Jacks were wild iff no Queens were played face up. (A default wild card.) We also had a bunch of different rules about what to do if a Jack or a King was the last card up.

My then-ten year old son, Sam, invented Jealous Lass, a vicious variant where whenever a Queen is dealt face up, she drives away all the other up cards in that hand: They are discarded and that player gets replacement up cards.

King Spot Low

King Spot Low is a truly different stud game. It's a high/low game where the pot is split between the high hand and the low spot hand. Face cards have two spots; other cards are counted at face value. (This is 'the same but different' as in and it's not uncommon for people to be clear on the rules but not sure whether face cards are two or one half.) Thus, four aces and a King is a six, which is the lowest possible spot hand. While obviously the more players the lower the winning spot hand is likely to be, typically a ten or eleven is a pretty decent spot hand.

For the high hand, kings are wild, as is each player's low hole card. (Aces are high, and wild cards do not count for spots.) The kicker is that you get to "roll your own" hole cards: all cards are dealt face down. That is, you start with three down cards, and choose one to turn over before the first betting round. Then you get another card face down, and choose one to turn over before the second betting round, and so on. The last card dealt stays down, which can cause trouble if you were hoping your pair of eights in the hole were going to be wild. Thus, if you have a King, an Ace, and a two down, any Kings and any two in your hand are wild. (You also have five spots down, which is a pretty fine position to be in.)

The high hands can be pretty insanely high, as it's not impossible to have, say, a pair of Kings and pair of your low hole card, for five of a kind.

Jon Shemitz - - September 29, 1999