Texas Hold’em is the Cadillac of poker. We’ve heard this preached to us repeatedly. The combination of Rounders and the Poker Boom has essentially made Texas Hold’em THE game that players have to learn at some point.
Personally, I am lukewarm in my love for Hold’em. I grew up playing Draw and Stud and while I feel I am decent at Hold’em, it is not my favorite game. Today I’m going to share with you seven reasons why Stud 8 or Better is a better poker game than Texas Hold’em.
Split Pot Poker is Much More Fun
Whether you’re a rank amateur or a seasoned pro, split pot poker is much more fun than standard Texas Hold’em. Beginners are going to enjoy the game because they believe they can play many more hands in hopes of chasing down half the pot.
Experienced players enjoy the game because they take advantage of the chasers. The game also requires a different strategy, more patience and more attention than Texas Hold’em.
Also, I’ve found that the characters in Stud 8 games are on average livelier than Hold’em games. This may be because the game attracts either an older crowd or a less douchy crowd than Hold’em games. They tend to be more social overall, making them more enjoyable.
More Information Available Every Hand
Stud games by design have more information available in every hand. In addition to the four up cards in your hand and in your opponent’s hand(s), you also have the folded up cards from other players.
Attentive players typically know where they are at in most hands and can react accordingly. You don’t often surprise an attentive Stud 8 player unless their opponent just picked up an absolute monster.
Seldom Can One Hand End Your Tournament / Ruin Your Session
How many times have we been eliminated from a poker tournament in the first few levels or even the first level of play. Some of us have had the misfortune of being eliminated in the very first hand of a tournament. For cash game players, have you sat down with a buy-in, pick up a monster hand early and then get outdrawn by a luck box when they crack your aces? Of course you have.
The great thing about Stud 8 games is that you cannot lose your entire stack, or even the majority of your stack in one hand. About the only exception would be if you were deep in a tournament with high bets. Of course, by that point you’ve probably locked up some cash so that takes away the sting.
Of course, limit poker in general has this advantage but I personally can think of a dozen examples in live tournaments where certain big hands in Stud 8 would have resulted in my elimination in Texas Hold’em. Fortunately, I lived to fight another hand and in many cases was able to recover to make a deep run.
Non-Bluffers Have a Chance
It’s no secret that if you suck at bluffing, you will have problems as you try to move up in limit playing Texas Hold’em. Bluffing is a required skill to be an excellent Hold’em player.
With Stud Hi-Lo, the element of bluffing is greatly reduced and this gives those that suck at bluffing a chance to stay competitive. Granted, those that can bluff at the right times will win more money in the long run but it is not an absolute necessity.
Also, a poorly run bluff in Stud Hi-Lo typically will not significantly impact your stack as it will in Texas Hold’em. Unless you’re playing high limits, a misplayed bluff will only cost you a few bets.
Solid Play is Rewarded More Often
ABC poker is often frowned upon in Texas Hold’em as a primary style. There are times you have to play it, but a default ABC strategy will often result in a player only able to beat beginners or other nits.
Stud 8 is a bit of a different beast where using a solid strategy is often the best route unless you’re mixing it up against top competition. In most cases, playing a solid ABC style strategy will be a winning strategy long-term.
Skill Gap Between Players is Greater
At the beginning of the Poker Boom, pros and competent amateurs made a killing at Texas Hold’em because the skill gap between players was so great. However, after over a decade of innovation in the game, that gap is much narrower and Hold’em games are tougher than they have ever been.
Some may argue that all poker games are tougher nowadays but if you play Stud 8 (or most non-Hold’em games) regularly, you will notice the difference in skill between experienced and beginning players.
This is why the game is still profitable for many old school and diehard mixed games players like me. Many beginners focus so much on Hold’em that they try to apply those principles to all poker games and find out the hard way that you have to adjust your strategy for every variant. Until they get up to speed, we are happy to take their money.
It Preps You for Other Poker Variants
My last reason is more a benefit of playing Stud 8. It is my belief that learning how to play Stud 8 properly will help you become a better player in other poker variants. Several skills transfer easier from Stud 8 to other forms of poker than from Hold’em to Stud 8.
Playing Stud 8 forces you to keep your mind sharp in order to pick up on all the information available in each hand. You have to keep in mind what you have, what your opponent is showing, what is folded and then put them on ranges based on the information you have available. When you have mastered this skill in Stud 8, paying attention to available information in other variants will be easier since there is less information in each hand.
Next, Stud 8 requires a tremendous amount of patience. Part of this comes from the sheer speed of the game. The game takes longer to play than other variants. Also, if you’re playing a proper strategy then you will be showing more patience as you wait for proper starting hands or spots to steal in tournaments where applicable. Personally, I believe that if you have the patience to properly play Stud 8, you have the patience to play any variant. Hold’em seems like it plays at warp speed compared to Stud 8.