Stud 8 or Better, like most split pot games, requires that you play for the scoop. While split pots are frequent, the real money to be made is when you can scoop a massive multi-way pot.
One hand category that’s often going to give you a scoop are flushes. It’s tough to scoop a player with a low flush hand, and nearly impossible if they have an ace-high flush with low.
@BobbyOboodi What's worse the Jags play calling or checking back a flush and a 7low in Stud/8?— Phil Hui (@KungPhui) November 20, 2015
While this type of hand seems easy to play, not all low flushes are equal.
Low Flush With Ace
Looking down to three low suited cards with an ace is always welcome, but in this instance we are referring to those three flush starters that are on the upper end of the low side.
Guy calls in 3 way stud 8 pot with ace high flush and 7 low. Sounds excited when he says "WOW I SCOOP" #cantbetoocareful— Owais Ahmed (@oerockets) June 10, 2015
Hands like 8-7-A, 8-6-A, 7-6-A and so forth look great but you need to improve and pay careful attention to your other opponents on later streets. This hand has the potential to scoop but could trap you into a one-way hand quite easily.
When you improve to a low four flush on fourth, you’ll probably be committed to the river unless there’s some type of crazy development such as a three-way pot where you’re up against a likely full house and a lower low draw.
In the instances where you only improve to low on fourth street, putting your opponents on hands is vital to continue. If they are not drawing lower than you, then a well placed bet might thin out the field or even take the pot down.
Fifth Street will be decision time. If you haven’t made any type of hand, you need to be drawing to a scooper. To continue with a potential one-way low hand, you need to be ahead for low. Otherwise, you’re going to be chasing a large percentage of the time.
Low Straight Flush
A low straight flush hand in Stud 8 is a three-card low starter with one card above five. Examples are 4-5-6, 5-6-7 and the like. Gapper hands are fine. Open ended three-card starters are always going to be best as they give you more continuation outs on fourth street.
Continuation outs are cards that hit that will make it correct to continue almost regardless of action. For example, a starter hand of 4-5-6 gives you ever other low card in the deck and the high flush cards as continuation outs. This is one spot where a non-suited nine or higher will be the only cards where you won’t continue past fourth in the majority of hands.
If you haven’t improved by Fifth Street, dump the hand. You have to catch perfect to win, and usually it will be a chop. Many one-way draws will be good in this spot, but be careful with your higher low draws if anyone appears to be chasing lower.
The great thing about this type of hand is you have potential straight, flush and low draws that you can use to push around opponents. When you start improving, well timed bets will often force weaker hands out of the pot. In the cases where the bets fail to push a player out, it will help you put them on a hand.
Low Steel Wheel
This is pretty straightforward. Any three suited wheel cards are going to be your preferred three-card starter in this group. When I get this hand with an ace, I preferred the ace buried as it gives you a bit more power if you catch an ace later in the hand.
When you catch well on Fourth Street, you will be in the driver’s seat. I’ll be these hands often as you’re almost always going to be the statistical favorite. It also puts your opponents on notice. Further perceived improvement is probably going to win the pot right away.
If you make an unscoopable hand by Fifth, you have to decide to play fast or let one or both players catch up. Depending on how they’re drawing, you may choose to slow play. Otherwise, keep trying to add some bets to the pot.
120k on break, avg is 103k, 39 left 16 pay, made my first ever steel wheel in stud 8 against angry john, he was let's say… not happy— Tom Koral (@tomkoral) June 19, 2014
Much of the above strategy works best when you’re in multi-way pots, which is what you’re going to experience a lot in split pot games. However, we should briefly address heads-up hands as well.
When you’re looking at the above hands in a heads-up situation, you’re going to want to play a bit more aggressively on Fourth Street. Since many heads-up hands result in chopped pots, better players aren’t going to keep chasing a hand that isn’t scoop worthy.
If you have a significant lead in either direction or are drawing to a scooper, then bet your hand to try to push your opponent out.
The same type of thinking applies to Fifth Street when it is clear that your opponent has not made a hand in either direction.
Something you probably should already be doing is pumping the pot when you’ve got at least half of the pot locked up. This forces your opponent to have to keep calling to win half the pot and there are times they will fold weaker one-way hands because they’re afraid you’ve got them scooped.