Popular Poker Variants Compared: 3-Card Poker and 7-Card Stud

The huge popularity of poker means that millions of people all around the world play this classic card game regularly. While exact figures for the number of poker players are difficult to obtain, some sources suggest that there are up to 100 million players worldwide. Research from 2009 showed that close to 7% of the US population played poker regularly.

All of these people don’t play exactly the same games though, as these are dozens of poker variants to choose from. The likes of five card draw poker, community card poker, H.O.R.S.E., Caribbean stud poker, and high Chicago are a few of the variations on the poker theme that people love to play. Two of the most popular types of poker game around are 3-card poker and 7-card stud. What do these variants have in common and what are the main differences between them?

What Is 3-Card Poker?

This poker game started life in the mid-1990s, when it was introduced as a way of bringing together the timeless thrill of poker and the fast action of other casino games such as roulette and slots. The result was an easy to understand table game that quickly became a big success with people looking for fast-paced excitement or trying to improve their poker skills.

As the name suggests, you need to get the best possible hand using just 3 cards. You can win based on beating the dealer or by getting a hand that pays out in its own right. The first step is to place a bet, which can be an ante wager, a pair plus wager or both. Once the three cards have been dealt you then decide whether to place a play wager to play against the dealer’s hand. If you decide to play against the dealer then the two hands are compared, although it is important to point out that the different players at the table don’t compete against each other. The ante wager pays out if your hand has the likes of a straight flush, royal flush or three of a kind. The pair plus wager gives a return if you have a pair or better.

What is 7-Card Stud?

With 7 cards and more complex rules, 7-card stud is a poker variant that can take a lot longer to get the hang of than is the case with 3-card poker. This was traditionally the most popular poker game played in homes and casinos across the US, although in recent years Texas hold’em has arguably become more popular.

While Texas hold’em gets a lot of headlines for massive wins such as the €11,111,111 scooped by Elton Tsang in 2016 and the success of bots playing it, 7-card stud remains extremely popular too. 7-card stud probably originated in the US Midwest in the 19th century. The idea behind it is to construct the best possible 5 card poker hand out of the 7 cards that are dealt to you. An ante bet is made before the game starts and this is basically the cost of entering the game.

Once this is done the first 3 cards are dealt to each player, with just 1 of them given face up. The player with the lowest value card has to start the betting round. After that, the remaining cards are dealt one by one and the betting continues after each one. The final stage is the showdown, at which point all of the hands are revealed and the person with the best one wins the money in the pot.

Which Is Best for a Beginner?

The simplicity of playing 3-card poker online means that it is something that even a complete novice in casino games can pick up in minutes. It is also possible to play online 3-card poker games online. These are more often found in the "casino" sections of online sites, since you're playing against a dealer rather than other players. In fact, live dealer 3-card poker games are also popular for that very same reason. In terms of 7-card stud, it isn’t particularly difficult to get started on, but it can take a long time to become a confident player who understands all of the nuances and strategies of the game.

Which Is Best for an Expert?

Generally speaking, the fact that the 7-card variant of poker offers more options for trying out different strategies makes it more attractive for experts looking to use their experience to good effect. Learning how to play poker well in a complex game like this can also help in other aspects of life, as has been proven by poker champions who have gone on to be successful in other pursuits too, especially professional ones.

However, the appeal of 3-card poker means that it is also an attractive option for expert players as well as those who are learning how to play poker. It may be simpler and involve less strategy but it is still an exciting game for an experienced poker player to try now and then.