In order to become a well-rounded poker player, you have to learn more than just No-Limit Texas Hold’em. Over the next few months, we will present a series of strategy articles that will help you improve your mixed game play and hopefully make you a better poker player.
This time around, we are going to take a look at Seven Card Stud. If you have aspirations of being a strong mixed game players, you need to learn Seven Card Stud and its associated variants.
Stud is one of the oldest forms of poker still spread in live casino but is often overlooked because it has a reputation of being “slow and boring.” The truth is that if you can play Stud competently, you have the skills needed to be a solid poker player. Below are five tips to help you improve your Seven Card Stud game.
Use the Information Available to Make Reads
Seven Card Stud gives you more information per hand than any other form of poker. For hands that go to showdown, you get to see 57% of your opponents’ hand. It is important that you develop the ability to remember which cards have been exposed in order to give you the best reads on your opponents.
Strong card memory will allow you to keep track of which outs you need, but also will allow you to narrow down what you’re opponent has or may be drawing to. For example, if a player is showing 5-6-7 and you know that all the eights and two fours have been folded, the odds of them actually having a straight are low.
This isn’t quite as difficult as it seems. Most of the time, hands will play heads-up or three handed. That means you only have to remember 5 or six door cards. The rest will be available for you to look at for as long as the opponent stays in the hand. Trust us; once you start developing your card memory, it gets easier to keep up.
Old School Drawing Strategy Still Relevant
When should you chase a straight or flush draw in Stud? It is actually quite easy to figure out if you use a system devised by famed author Roy Cooke. For straight draws, you want to primarily stick to starting hands that are open-ended such as 7-8-9, K-Q-J, etc.
From this point, you check out the door cards for each opponent. For every door card that makes you a four-card open-ended straight, assign one point. For example, is you hold 7-8-9, you are looking for sixes and tens. Each one that you find is worth one point.
Next, you are looking for secondary outs. In other words, you are looking for cards that would fill your straight should your hand improve to a four card open ender. For the example just used, you would be looking for fives and jacks. For each of these outs, you will assign a half point.
If you find that more than 2 points worth of cards is showing as door cards, don’t chase your draw. In our example, if you see a player with a six, another with a ten and someone with a jack, it is time to fold.
You apply the same system for flush draws but it is a bit easier. If you have a suited starting hand and you see more than two of your suit as door cards, it is time to get out of the hand.
Don’t Be Afraid to Speculate with Buried Pairs
Once you start playing Stud on a regular basis, you’re going to love buried pairs. Since a large number of players come in with a pair that matches your door card, you’re going to have a great amount of deception value in your hand.
When you start with a buried pair such as fives, sixes or sevens and then catch that card on a later street, it is going to be extremely difficult for your opponents to put you on a hand and you are in great shape to take down a nice pot.
Pay Close Attention to a Paired Door Card
Remember what we just said about many players coming in with a pair that matches their door card? Well that’s important to remember, especially if they immediately pair that door card. In many cases, your opponent just caught trips. Even if they didn’t, you have to consider that they could have started with a buried pair and have two pair.
When your opponent pairs their door card, folding is usually the correct play. The only reason you should stay in at this point is if you can beat their trips or if you’re drawing to a big hand. Even then, you have to be wary of them hitting a full house.
If you pair your door card on fourth, consider putting in the double bet to try and take the pot down immediately. For those new to the game, when you pair your door card on fourth, you have the option to make a double bet in the amount of the big bet. (For example, in a $2-$4 Stud game, you can bet $4 on an open pair on fourth instead of $2.)
Don’t Bet into a Drawing Player on the River Unless You Can Beat Their Draw
One of the most common mistakes that we see players make is betting into a drawing player on the river. If they have a straight draw, flush draw or even two pair showing and are last to act, checking is often the smartest play.
The reason is that if they catch on the end, they will raise and you are going to lose an extra bet. Yes, there are many aggressive players that are going to bet anyway if you check but you will save a bet by slowing down on the river.
This may sound like an odd concept to put in a strategy article but due to the limit nature of the game, we feel it is an important one. You will face this scenario almost every day you play Seven Card Stud and sometimes in multiple times. If you face this scenario twice and lose both hands, you save two big bets. That may not sound like much, but over time those saved bets really ad up and positively impact your bottom line.