Five Card stud is the only popular poker variation I can think of where players at the table can see all but one of their opponent’s cards. For this reason it is imperative that you watch every move while playing. One of the worst mistakes you can make is to stay in a pot looking for a card your opponent folded two minutes ago.
The first thing you have to realize when playing this game is that even a pair is frequently a strong hand, especially if your opponents can only see one of the cards. Players who are used to playing Hold'em or Omaha see straights, flushes and full houses all the time. These three hands are monsters in Five Card Stud. You may go months without seeing a full house beat a flush in Five Card Stud, where Omaha players see this on a daily basis.
The first rule in any Stud game is to fold if you cannot beat what other players have showing up on the table. This makes Five Card Stud a very deliberate game requiring patience. To win money in this game it is important to weigh the amount of the ante/blinds and rake. You have to win enough pots to get the money you are forced to put into the pot back and eclipse the rake (if there is one). If the ante/blinds are large, you will need to be more aggressive by bluffing at additional pots when you have nothing. This is one game where it really helps to get a reputation as a tight, conservative player, and then change your playing style. You will be able to use this reputation to your advantage to take pots from players by bluffing. Make sure to use this only when there is some money in the pot. It does not make sense to throw out a $10 bluff then there is $3 in the pot from the Ante.
One of the hardest things to learn in Five Card Stud, or any poker game for that matter, is to not pay money to see cards unless it makes monetary sense for you to do so. Learning how to calculate poker odds is your mathematical solution to making the correct choices. Put very simply, playing pot odds means knowing what your probability of pulling the card you need to make your hand a winner, and weighing those chances against the size of the pot. Here is a very basic example of calculating pot odds.
You have a Two face down in your hand and Two/Ten face up on the table. One of your opponents has a pair of Fours face up on the table. This can be a very costly situation in a game of Five Card Stud. Most experienced players who cannot calculate pot odds fold in this situation. Most inexperienced players stick around to see the next two cards. Who is right? Neither player is correct all the time; both players are correct sometimes. To make the proper profitable decision you have to calculate your chances of getting a card you need.
In the most basic evaluation of this situation you have five outs, or cards that will give you a good chance of winning the hand. There are two Twos and three Tens. You know what three of the cards are, the one in your hand and the two on the table. This leaves 49 cards which could show up on Fourth Street if you only take your cards onto account. Your chances of pulling one of the five cards you need are 5 out of 49. This gives you approximately a 1 in 10 chance.
However, because you are playing Five Card Stud you have a lot of extra information you need to throw into your decision making process. There are eight players at the table. Each player received a face up card to start the hand and five of the players have folded. What were those five cards they had in play? When you received your first two cards you were only interested in keeping up with Twos. Then you were dealt a Ten and the situation changed making them important as well. Did anyone already fold a Ten?
As you can see, Five Card Stud is a game where you have to pay close attention to every card you see and every situation which could come up in the future. In order to correctly calculate the Pot Odds you must be able to remember all cards that have hit the table and quickly calculate your chances of getting the cards you need. Luckily, playing online makes this much easier than at a live game. If you have access to a program such as Excel you can use it to quickly calculate your percentages. This does not mean you do not have to pay attention, but at least you won’t have to be a human computer. I have created a simple Excel spreadsheet for you to use in your calculation. Simply enter the number of cards left in the deck and the amount of the bet you are considering, and it will tell you the total amount the pot should be for you to consider calling.
In a situation where there are 40 unknown cards (12 are known: I have 3, five players have folded showing me 5 total, and 2 players are still in showing me four total) and you have to pay $2 to stay in the hand, you fill in the top two boxes, hit enter, and the sheet looks like this:
Left In Deck 
40 


$$ Of Bet 
2 

Required Pot 



Size For Call 
# of Outs 
Percentage 
Chances  1 in 
To Make Sense 
1 
2.50% 
40.00 
80.00 
2 
5.00% 
20.00 
40.00 
3 
7.50% 
13.33 
26.67 
4 
10.00% 
10.00 
20.00 
5 
12.50% 
8.00 
16.00 
6 
15.00% 
6.67 
13.33 
7 
17.50% 
5.71 
11.43 
8 
20.00% 
5.00 
10.00 
9 
22.50% 
4.44 
8.89 
10 
25.00% 
4.00 
8.00 
11 
27.50% 
3.64 
7.27 
12 
30.00% 
3.33 
6.67 
13 
32.50% 
3.08 
6.15 
14 
35.00% 
2.86 
5.71 
15 
37.50% 
2.67 
5.33 
16 
40.00% 
2.50 
5.00 
17 
42.50% 
2.35 
4.71 
18 
45.00% 
2.22 
4.44 
19 
47.50% 
2.11 
4.21 
20 
50.00% 
2.00 
4.00 
21 
52.50% 
1.90 
3.81 
22 
55.00% 
1.82 
3.64 
23 
57.50% 
1.74 
3.48 
24 
60.00% 
1.67 
3.33 
25 
62.50% 
1.60 
0.88 
All I have to calculate now is my number of outs. In the case above I have five outs (two 2s and three 10’s). By looking at the spreadsheet under the 5 Outs column I can see I have an 12.50% (or 1 in 8) chance of getting one of the cards I need. Then if I look over at the required pot size column, it shows that the pot amount should be at least $16 for me to consider calling. Keeping up with the number of unknown cards and the number of outs takes a lot of concentration and can be tough, but it gets easier with experience. In the long run, a quick look at your bankroll will show you why it is worthwhile.
5 Card Draw strategy
7 Card Stud strategy
Omaha Poker strategy
Omaha Hi/Lo Poker strategy
Texas Holdem strategy
5 Card Stud strategy
5 Card Stud variations
5 Card Stud terminology