Stud 8 is a variant of seven card stud. It was the most popular poker game in America until Texas Hold’em rose to prominence.
The game is typically played with fixed-limit betting, where the possible bets are prespecified and played with an ante, a small bet that each player must contribute to the pot before the hand begins. To start, each player receives two cards face down and one face up. The player with the lowest card makes another small, forced bet, called the bring-in, and play continues to his left, with players able to call the bring-in, fold, or complete the bring-in to a full-sized bet. When the action on this round, also known as “third street,” is concluded, each player receives another card face-up. There is another round of betting, with the player whose upcards rank highest acting first.
There are two more rounds like this (a total of four face-up cards) with doubled betting limits, and then a final card face down and a fifth and final round of betting at the doubled limits. If more than one hand is still alive, there is a showdown, where the pot is split between the best high hand (standard poker ratings), and the best qualifying low hand, if there is one. Low hands are ranked according to standard A-5 lowball rules, so ace counts as low and straights and flushes do not count against a hand. In order to qualify, the highest card in a five-card low hand must be 8 or lower and it must not contain a pair. If there is no qualifying low hand, then the best high hand wins the entire pot.