Several versions of the game exist. For our purposes here, I’ll discuss the most common form of the game, which was played by students at MIT in the 1960s. In the age of ascendance for Texas Hold’em, people naturally assume that Omaha and Holdem are the only community card games. Such games have been around for generations, though.
As they say of certain gizmos in the modern world, Oxford Stud has many moving parts. The basic premise is a game in which players receive individual downcards and individual upcards, as well as community cards. When a round of play begins, each player receives two downcards and one upcard, the same as they would in a standard game of seven-card stud.
Because Oxford Stud is a combination community card/stud poker game, the house needs to determine who begins betting. In seven-card stud, the player with the highest upcard makes the first bet. In community card games like Texas Holdem, a set player is the one who bets (determined by where the “button” is at on the table). In most versions of Oxford Stud, the player with the best card showing makes the first bet.
The Bring-in Bet
In some versions of 7-card stud, the player with the worst card showing starts the first betting round, forcing them to make the Bring-in bet. That is the most common rule for Oxford Stud, so expect to make the bring-in wager if you are holding the lowest upcard. Bets follow this wager, completing the first round of betting.
When the first new set of cards are dealt, they are dealt as two community card. Thus, each player should have 5 cards with which to make a hand, including 1 upcard, 2 downcards, and 2 community cards. In this round of betting, the player with the best hand showing makes the first wager.
So if someone holds A-K-10 and another holds 2-2-10, then the player with the pair showing (2-2-10) would make the first wager. Again, a second round of betting follows.
After the second round of betting occurs, each player is dealt a second upcard. Therefore, each player will have 2 upcards, 2 downcards, and 2 community cards. Once again, the player showing the best hand will make the first bet. The player will make a hand using the 2 upcards and the two cards on the board. A third round of betting occurs.
Third Community CardAfter the third round of betting happens, then a third and final community card is dealt. This is followed by a fourth betting round. Once again, the player with the best hand showing begins the wagering round. Five cards are now showing for each player (3 community cards and 2 upcards), so a gambler could be showing a flush or a straight.
This is where Oxford Stud Poker gets really interesting. While the lead better might be showing a terrific hand, their opponents each have two hole cards, so they could be set up for a dominant hand on the showdown.
Why Oxford Stud Is So Great
Stud has a reputation as a hardcore poker player’s game, because raises and bluffs can have tremendous effect on one’s opponents. Like seven-card stud, Oxford Stud is a game for those with ice-water in their veins.
Best 5-Card Hand
At the showdown, each player makes the best five-card hand they can make from any combination of their 7 cards. That means 2 community cards can be used, 1 community card can be used, or no community card can be used.
Oxford Stud is usually played as a high-low split game. In high/low split, half of the pot goes to the high hand, while the other half of the pot goes to the low hand. Players are allowed to build best and worst hands, meaning any given player at the table has the ability to win both pots on any given hand.
Pot resolution can be a little more complicated in Oxford Stud Hi/Lo Split than it is in games like Texas Holdem. This is common with games which use the hi/lo game dynamic. There is a reason that the game was popular with students at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, which is known for training brilliant scientists and technologists.
Oxford Stud Review
Oxford Stud offers a variation of poker with enough oddball elements to be novel to longtime gamblers. At the same time, those game elements are familiar to veterans, so they don’t feel like they’re playing a duffer’s game. Some beginning players may find the switch between upcards and community cards to be confusing. Those who don’t enjoy the complexities of high-low poker might not enjoy Oxford Stud, either. Otherwise, it’s a game which provides maximum novelty, without relying on tricked-up rules such as wild cards.
This poker variant is most comparable to seven-card stud hi/lo. Many poker players these days are so used to community card games like Texas Hold’em and Omaha Hold’em. Often, they don’t want to try stud and draw poker. If you know people among your card playing group who fit that description, suggest a session of Oxford Stud. It provides a bridge into the world of stud poker, while giving them a slightly more familiar game than seven-card stud or five-card stud would.