Seven-card stud 8-or-better, also known as seven-card stud hi-lo, is a split-pot game, played with two to eight players. As in regular seven card stud, every player is dealt a total of seven cards, three of them face down, and the other four face up.
To make both your best five-card high hand, and your best five card low hand, using any combination of the seven cards you are dealt. The player with the best high hand wins half the pot, and the player with the best low hand wins the other half. If there is no qualifying low hand, the player with the best high hand wins the entire pot.
A qualifying low hand is made with five cards that are all 8 or lower, an ace counting as the lowest. No pairs can exist in a low hand, but a straight and/or a flush may. The lowest possible hand is A2345. The highest possible qualifying low hand is 87654.
Note: Winning both the high and the low hand is called "scooping the pot".
Seven card stud is normally played with an ante that is approximately 1/5 of the low limit bet size. Every player must ante up before the hand begins. The ante does not count towards any future bets.
After the initial deal when every player has 1 card showing, the person with the lowest card must "bring in", which means he must place the low limit bet size in the pot. If two or more players share the lowest card, the one closest to the dealer's left side must bring in. This bet counts as your first round bet, so as long as nobody raises, you won't have to place any more money in the pot to see the next card.
There are five rounds of betting. In limit seven card stud, all bets and raises must be equal to either the low limit, or high limit bet size, depending on what round it is. In the first two rounds, all bets and raises must be equal to the low limit bet size. In the third, fourth, and fifth rounds, all bets must be equal to the high limit bet size. If, for example, you're playing 3-6 seven card stud, all bets in the first two rounds will be in increments of 3 dollars, and all bets in the last three rounds will be in increments of 6 dollars. A maximum of 3 raises are allowed per betting round.
- 3rd street - Two cards are dealt face down to every player, followed by another card face up. The player with the lowest card must bring in, by betting 1/2 o the low limit bet. He may choose to raise by betting the full the low limit bet. Play proceeds clockwise around the table, with each player choosing to fold, call, or raise. All bets and raises must be equal to the low limit bet size.
- 4th street - A fourth card is dealt face up to every player. The player with the highest hand showing (at this point, the highest possible would be a pair of aces) is the first to act. He may choose to fold, check, or bet. If two or more players are tied for the highest hand, the one closest to the dealer's left will be the first to act. Play proceeds clockwise around the table as before. If a player is showing a pair at this point, then he and all the other players have the option to bet either the low limit bet size or the high limit bet size. Otherwise, all bets and raises must be equal to the low limit bet size.
- 5th street - A fifth card is dealt face up to every player. Play proceeds as in the previous round, with the highest hand betting first, except now all bets and raises must be equal to the high limit bet size.
- 6th street - A sixth card is dealt face up to every player. Play proceeds as in the previous round. All bets and raises must be equal to the high limit bet size.
- 7th street - A seventh and final card is dealt face down to every player. Play proceeds as in the previous round. All bets and raises must be equal to the high limit bet size. In the rare event that all eight players remain in the hand at this point, there would not be enough cards for each player to receive another one. If that occurs, instead of every player receiving a card face down, a single card is placed in the middle of the table face up which every player is free to use.
Anyone who has not folded after the last round of betting will now have the option of showing their hand in hopes of taking down the pot. The person who bet last is the first to show their hand, and then it proceeds clockwise from there, with each remaining player either choosing to show their hand, or muck it. Often times a player will muck their hand if they aren't going to win the pot, and don't want their opponents to see what they played.
Hint: Most online poker rooms offer the option of automatically mucking your losing hands, so the other players won't see what you played. It's generally a good idea to select this.