It wasn’t all that long ago that 7 Card Stud was the most popular poker game in the world. However, in the last 30 or so years, Texas Hold’em has reigned supreme as poker’s preeminent game.
The question is:
Which game is actually better when you compare Texas Hold’em vs. 7 Card Stud? In this article, we are going to take a look at Texas Hold’em and 7 Card Stud and tell you a little bit about both games.
Then we are going to compare the games and settle the debate once and for all on which game is better, Texas Hold’em vs 7 Card Stud!
What Is Texas Hold’em?
Affectionately known as the Cadillac of poker, Texas Hold’em is the most popular poker game in the world.
The World Series of Poker Main Event, the $10,000 buy-in tournament that serves to crown the world champion of poker each year, is decided at a Texas Hold’em table, giving the game instant credibility as the top poker game in the world.
Poker tends to be a very regional game, as there are pockets of action around the world where different games are the most popular. In the southeastern part of the US, Omaha is the game of choice for many players.
In the northeast, 7 Card Stud is still going strong.
But there isn’t anywhere in the world that poker is played where it is going to be all that hard to find a Texas Hold’em game. The game has become synonymous with poker and many casual players, that only watch the game on TV, don’t even realize there are other forms of poker being played in casinos.
How Is Texas Hold’em Played?
Texas Hold’em uses a rotating dealer button and forced bets known as blinds to keep the action going.
As the dealer button works its way around the table, all players have to pay both a small and large blind bet each orbit. At the start of each hand, the dealer will deal two cards down to all players. The action starts on the player to the left of the big blind, and each player will have the option to call the blind bet, raise it up, or fold.
Texas Hold’em tends to be an aggressive game, and you will regularly see lots of calls and raises based on the strength of these first two cards.
After all players have finished betting on the opening round, the dealer will place three cards in the center of the table that play in everybody’s hand. These community cards are known as the flop.
The first player to the left of the dealer button will have the option to check or bet, and just like the first round of betting, the action will go around the table, with all active players getting the opportunity to check, bet, call, or raise, depending on the action before them.
After all action is complete on the flop, the dealer will place 1 additional community card on the table. This card is known as the turn and is followed by another round of betting. After the turn betting round, the dealer will deal 1 final community card, known as the river, followed by the last betting round. Once all bets are called, the hands are shown down, with the best 5-card poker hand, using any combination of the 5 community cards and their 2 hole cards, will be awarded the pot.
As you can see, Texas Hold’em is a fairly simple game in terms of how the hands are played, but the deeper you get into strategy, you will quickly find that Texas Hold’em is a very complex game that requires a lot of attention, focus, and skill to win in the long run.
What Is 7 Card Stud?
The Texas Hold’em boom of the early ‘2000s may never have happened if 7 Card Stud hadn’t carried the mantle for casino poker for decades prior, as casino poker was increasingly hard to find in the late 1990s.
Long before televised Texas Hold’em tournaments captivated the world, it was 7 Card Stud that was by far the most popular poker game played, both in casinos and at kitchen tables. 7 Card Stud is a slower-paced game, that is nearly always played as limit poker. And while limit poker is great when it comes to keeping the poker economy healthy, as it is harder for the good players to take all of the bad player’s money too quickly, it doesn’t make for great TV.
You are still going to find high profile 7 Card Stud tournaments every year at the World Series of Poker in Las Vegas, and there are some areas of the country where stud is still the game of choice. But for the most part, 7 Card Stud has taken a backseat to Texas Hold’em and in some areas of the country, it is basically impossible to find a game.
How Is 7 Card Stud Played?
Unlike Texas Hold’em, where the action is started using a button and blinds, in 7 Card Stud, all players ante prior to the start of the hand. These antes are collected and then each player will get 2 cards down and 1 card face up.
Since there is no button to start the action, the player with the lowest card, by rank and suit, is forced to bet, by making what is known as a bring-in bet. The betting then starts to the left of the bring-in bet, with all players having the opportunity to call, raise, or fold.
After all, betting is complete, the dealer will give the remaining players 1 more card face up. Instead of the worst hand starting the action, on 4th street, and all subsequent betting rounds, the best hand will start the action with the option to check or bet.
This same process is followed on 5th and 6th street, with players getting 1 additional face-up card followed by a betting round.
The final card is then dealt face down, giving players 4 exposed cards, known as board cards, and 3 hidden cards, known as hole cards. After one final betting round on 7th street, players show down their hands and the best 5-card poker hand wins the pot.
Texas Hold’em vs 7 Card Stud
Now that you know a little bit about each of these games, now is the time to get to the real question at hand, which poker game is better, Texas Hold’em or 7 Card Stud? A lot of this answer is going to come down to personal preference.
Personally, I love 7 Card Stud, as it rewards the players that pay attention the most and I always have a laser-like focus when I am at the poker table.
But limit poker isn’t nearly as exciting as no limit poker, and while Texas Hold’em can be played both as a limit and no limit game, 7 Card Stud doesn’t play well no limit, so it is always going to be small bet poker.
Personal preferences aside:
There are a couple of macro factors that make Texas Hold’em the better overall game. Like it or not, you can’t deny that Texas Hold’em has the bigger following, and that is especially true when it comes to the casual players. When Texas Hold’em first started to take over as the game of choice for new players, even the staunchest stud supporters had no choice but to play hold’em, as the stud action had dried up.
You are going to be hard-pressed to find a 7 Card Stud game that is packed with novice players. And on the flip side, most Texas Hold’em games are chalked full of newbies that are just giving their money away.
This dynamic alone makes Texas Hold’em the better game.
The other high-level factor that has Texas Hold’em as the superior game is the sheer number of games available. If you are a 7 Card Stud specialist, depending on where in the world you live, you may not even have a game to play in.
It doesn’t matter if you are the best stud player on the planet, if you can’t find a game, you can’t play. And if you can’t play, you can’t win. Part of me wishes that 7 Card Stud would make a comeback and again take over as the premier poker game, but my brain tells me that this just isn’t going to happen.
Texas Hold’em is better for the casinos, as it is faster and they make more money from the game, and when it comes to TV, there isn’t even a comparison, as watching stud poker on TV is like watching paint dry.
Well, there you have it folks, Texas Hold’em is the world’s greatest poker game and it is here to stay! 7 Card Stud is still going to be a great change of pace game, and if you do find a stud table in action, I suggest that you sit down and give the game a try, as it is much more fun than it looks.
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