Seven Card Stud is a game which has been around for decades, and for a long time, it was considered the most popular form of poker. The hi/lo split variant of this game is also an interesting and entertaining game to play.
Seven Card Stud hi/lo begins with antes being placed, before the lowest card showing must pay the ‘bring in’ bet. This takes place after each player has received two face down cards and one face up. From that point onwards it is the strongest visible hand that must act first on each betting round. There is a betting round after all players have been dealt each new card, three more face up and one face down. Each player ends up with 3 hidden cards and 4 visible ones, and it is the best 5 card hand which wins the high half of the pot. If a player has 5 unpaired cards of value 8 or lower, they can make a low hand and lay claim to the low half of the pot. If multiple players have a qualifying low hand, then the lowest hand wins that half of the pot. Halves of the pot can be split if there is a tie for the high or low, creating a situation where a player wins a quarter of the pot. Obviously this is to be avoided where possible.
With Seven Card Stud hi/lo, players often make the same mistake as they do with most split pot games. On a full table you shouldn’t be looking to play hands that only have pure high potential. For instance QKA is not worth playing. If a player can see that you are going for the high half, and they complete any low hand, regardless of how rough it is, they can bet every street. They can do this because they have half the pot guaranteed and may have back doors and gutshot Straight draws or better. They are essentially freerolling you for the high half.
The best hands to start with in this game are suited cards of 8 or lower, preferably slightly connected. Stick to the hands where your potential for low hands and possible big high hands is maximised, and you won’t go too far wrong. Also, remember that after the fifth card is dealt, the betting sizes double, so be prepared to ditch hands at this point if they aren’t developing in the right direction.