The trick to hand evaluation is compare all other hands to your own. With all but one card showing at all times, you can often tell whether there’s any value in continuing. There are two ways to assume value in a hand. By having the best hand, or by representing the best hand.
The first thing you need to know is that One Pair is the most common winner in a 5 Card Stud game, followed by High Card. Let’s take a quick look at the mathematical probabilities of 5 Card Stud.
With just 5 cards, your odds of being dealt High Card (no Pair) are 50.12%. Your odds of being dealt One Pair are 42.26%. Two Pair comes in at 4.75%, and Three of a Kind 2.11%. The remaining 0.76% belongs to all higher hand ranks combined.
Obviously, you need to set your expectations very low in this game. The more players there are, the more likely it is that a low pair will be beaten by a higher pair. The fewer players there are, the better Ace high looks. Keep this in mind when evaluating hands.
As for representing the best hand (a.k.a. bluffing), it’s best done after receiving a good scare card. Maybe no one has anything higher than a Jack showing, and you’re dealt an Ace. Not only is that Ace good against other non-pair hands, if anyone believes you have another Ace in the hole, you could easily represent the nuts.
For a really ballsy move, try raising the pot when you get the Ace scare card, and your opponent is already showing a pair. They have the better hand, and you know it, but betting with the confidence that you have them beat can easily convince them to fold. Do not do this often, as it’s a risky bluff. So long as you’ve played tight enough to instill fear in your opponents up to this point, it can be very effective.