In the event that there are at least two players who have held on to their hands all the way to the river, there must be a showdown to determine who has the better hand. And if one of the players showing down happens to be you, you had better know where your hand ranks.
Seven Card Stud – Hand Rankings & Showdowns
Commit the following list to memory, because nothing says “take my money” like asking the other players if two pair beats three of a kind. You’ll definitely need to know hand ranking if you going to be successful and use any kind of Seven Card Stud poker strategy. For a nice article relating to starting hands see our Seven Card Stud Premium Hands article.
1. Straight flush: five cards cards of the same suit, in sequence. Example: 5c-6c-7c-8c-9c. The highest possible straight flush is T-J-Q-K-A of the same suit, called a royal flush.
2. Four of a kind: four cards of the same rank. Also called quads.
3. Full house: three cards of one rank and two of another. For example, Kh-Kd-Ks-3s-3c, which would be read as “kings full of threes” or simply “kings full.” If this hand were to be against another full house, for example 4d-4s-4c-As-Ah, the winner would be determined by the highest three cards of one kind. So, the kings full hand would beat the fours full hand. Also called a full boat.
4. Flush: five cards of the same suit but not in sequence. For example, Qh-Th-7h-3h-2h, which would be read as a “queen high flush.” In flush vs. flush scenarios, the winner is determined by the flush with the higher high card, so our queen high flush would be a loser against Kd-9d-8d-6d-4d. If the high card in each flush is the same, the next highest card determines the winner, and so on until the tie is broken. The previous king high flush would lose to Kc-Jc-8c-6c-3c, because the J outranks the 9. Only the five cards making up the flush play; the two side cards are irrelevant.
5. Straight: five cards in sequence but not all of the same suit. For example, Qc-Jd-Tc-9s-8c, which would beat 9d-8d-7c-6h-5s. The highest possible straight is A-K-Q-J-T, sometimes called Broadway. The lowest straight is 5-4-3-2-A (the ace can be wither high or low when making a straight), which is sometimes called a wheel or a bicycle.
6. Three of a kind: three cards of the same rank. Also called a set or trips.
7. Two pair: just what it sounds like. For example, As-Ah-5d-5s-Qc. In two pair vs. two pair confrontations, the hand with the higher high pair wins. If both hands have the same high pair, the second pair breaks the tie. So, As-Ah-5d-5s-Qc beats Kd-Kc-Js-Jc-Ad, which beats Ks-Kh-8h-8c-Ac.
8. Pair: two cards of the same rank. If two players have the same pair, the winner is determined by looking at the highest unpaired card (called a kicker). Jc-Jh-Ks-8d-5d beats Js-Jd-Ts-7c-6h, because the king in the first hand outranks the ten in the second. For more on how to play pairs in Seven Card Stud see our Seven Card Stud – Playing Pairs article.
9. High card: when none of the above hands are in play, the showdown is won by the highest cards. Aces are high, then Kings, and so on.