Stud poker is the oldest of all current poker games and dates back nearly 200 years to the American old west, played by miners, farmers and river boat gamblers. In fact as recently as 10 years ago, stud, or some version of it was still the game of choice for home and casino games.
Early in the 1970’s, things started to change when Benny Binion created the annual World Series of Poker event and declared the main event game would be Texas hold’em. When Chris Moneymaker, an internet amateur, won that very tournament in 2003, it sealed hold’em as the game to play, and is now more synonymous with the word poker, than any other game.
So in terms of overall popularity, stud poker pales in comparison to Texas hold’em and to a lesser extent, Omaha as well. There are several reasons this disparity exists starting with the number of rounds. In 7 card stud there is 5 rounds of betting and hold’em, there is only 4 rounds. This makes a difference in 2 critical ways in that players want to see as many hands as they can to increase hands per hour, and thus hourly win rate, and casinos want to deal as many hands per hour as possible in order to maximize rake. This is the same in live casinos and online poker rooms.
Mainly because of its drawing game nature, stud is normally played in a limit format and as you are likely aware most people prefer no limit hold’em. No limit pots also tend to get bigger and that again means a bigger rake compared to limit games. So again that is a financial deterrent to run stud games in casinos.
Online poker has really fueled the rapid growth of poker over the last decade, so in reality what happens online plays a huge factor with what happens in live games. Stud falls short in this respect too because it just doesn’t get the TV time either because there are so few tournaments and games being recorded because the general audience will not be able to understand stud on TV as easy as hold’em.
There is one other thing that keeps stud from having explosive growth, in particular online, and that is because you really cannot effectively multi-table stud games online. The reason for this is because the game is really based on live cards and draws and if you are not paying attention to what cards have been shown and folded in the hand you are playing, you will be at an unforgiving and persistent disadvantage. Even playing 2 tables of stud is going to become a challenge, especially if you find yourself playing two hands at the same time. Consider that most rounders in hold’em play four or more tables at a time to make the most of their hourly rate. So you can see that such minded players would avoid stud tables for simple financial reasons, even if the competition at 7 card stud is considerably weaker.
There are some things going for stud though, and one of them is that there are still stud events in World Series of Poker, and Stud and the growing popularity of Razz – which is another version of stud, are part of the HORSE game structure and is a highly publicized WSOP tournament that most professional would love to win because of the wide array of skills involved and the prestige that goes along with that title. Also, there is now poker calculator software which tracks all known cards in stud games online and adjusts your outs and odds in relation up cards, even ones that have been folding. So there is multi-tabling potential for stud after all, just around the corner as more software producers join this market.