I’ve recently had the good fortune of finding a place to play Stud 8 cash games instead of tournaments. It’s been a welcome change of pace and has helped me to hone some of the skills that I haven’t been able to use that often.
While playing, a few situations arose that reinforced certain key concept that make the difference between someone being a solid Stud 8 player and one that regularly donates to the game. Here are three tips to make you a better Stud 8 player.
Bet Your Four-Low on Fourth
A sign of a solid Stud 8 player is one that isn’t afraid to be on fourth street with four to a low hand. The purpose behind betting you hand is this spot is to thin out the field and get some of the weaker players to fold. For example, you come in with a 6-3-2 on third and then catch and ace on fourth.
You have a four card low that has a lot of possibilities. Your opponents see you bet with 2-A showing and this put them on notice. You might just have a four-card non-scooping low, or you might have four wheel cards. Maybe you have something like 6-A-2 and just caught a pair of aces.
In this spot, it is going to be very difficult for four card eights and most pairs to call you. There are times these hands will call you, but it is not ideal spots for them.
About the only time you want to shy away from this bet is if you are facing another low hand that either completed or raised on third and then caught good on fourth. Unless you have a scoop capable hand, you might just want to check-call here.
Betting with a four-card low puts your opponents on notice and puts you in the driver’s seat for the rest of the hand if you catch good. Often, you will bet with a four-card low on fourth and then take down the pot on fifth when you catch good.
Boardlocked and Freerolling to a Scoop
On fifth, I had 8-5-4-3-A against a player with an apparent trip kings and someone with a draw to an 8-7 low at best. We got to this point because the king (who raised on third after a completion) decided to check on fourth.
On sixth, the player with the 8 low draw caught his second straight high card. Action suddenly went crazy. The trip kings opened with the low hand calling. His board was showing Q-J-8-7 rainbow. I had him boardlocked on the low side. I didn’t even bother to consider him for a high straight because of his play to this point. He was going low and making a bad play.
I then raised with my board of 5h-As-3s-Kh, followed by the kings three-betting. The low draw called and then I four-bet. At this point, I had half the pot locked up and was freerolling to a wheel. On the river, I missed my wheel, but the kings checked which indicated he didn’t have a full house. The low draw checked.
Whenever you’re freerolling and cannot be scooped, you need to bet in Stud 8, so naturally I bet my hand. If I was wrong about the kings and the person had been hyper-aggressive with just a single pair, he would fold in this spot. He flat called my bet, so I figured my read was correct.
The low draw clearly whiffed everything and folded his hand. Showdown confirmed my read and my opponent showed three kings and I took half of the nice three way pot with my 8-4 low.
The takeaway here is when you’re opponents are boardlocked and you’re freerolling, especially if you are freerolling to a scoop, you need to be pumping the pot. Sometimes you will be able to drive everyone out and take the whole pot.
Slow Playing Trips or Better is a No-No
Something I pointed out briefly in last section is relevant for this last point. Whenever you have trips or better in Stud 8, it is seldom correct to slow play the hand. This sounds counterintuitive to most forms of poker, but it is a relevant point in Stud 8.
Let’s revisit the prior hand. On fourth street, my first opponent caught an open pair of kings. This was after he raised on third street. However, he makes a huge mistake here when he checks. I am showing A-5 and the other low player is showing 8-7. Unless I slow played buried aces here, it is highly unlikely that his three kings are behind at this point.
What his check did here was to allow both of his opponents to check behind and get a free card, thus resulting in my catching my eight-low with wheel redraw. Had he bet in this spot, there is a good chance that one of us may have folded in this spot, especially if we didn’t have a scoop capable hand.
If you have read my strategy pieces on Stud 8 in the past, you have heard me speak against slow-playing rolled up trips on third. This same rule applies to trips and up really. Too many Stud 8 players take a regular Stud mentality and slow play their bigger hands in hopes of building a pot. What they are actually doing is opening the door to allow a player to catch up and either get half of the pot or even scoop them.
When you have trips, you should only feel safe from a scoop when you have a full house or quads. Otherwise, you could still get scooped by someone with a low straight or flush. If you have a made hand with opponents clearly drawing to low, make them pay for the privilege.
Will they often chase it down? Sure they will, especially in a multi-way pot. However, there are smarter players that will save their bets instead of throwing money into the pot in hopes of getting their money back or just splitting the antes.