Stud 8 or better more so than any other poker game is one that new players struggle to master. Part of the reason is that players fall into a trap of playing too many hands due to fact that many pots are split. Stud 8 is a game that requires a player to start with strong starting hands, or else they will usually wind up donating money to the other players. Today, lets take a look at which Stud 8 poker hands that players should look to play.
First, many players should stay away from almost all large pairs. The only pair that is recommended to play regularly is aces, and preferably with a baby card. The reason that most other pairs do not play well is due to the fact that in many cases with high pairs, you are going for only one side of the pot. If you start with a pair of kings, you are almost locked into a high hand from the beginning. If you start with a pair of eights or below, you risk having your hand being outranked easily. While it is “possible” to win high with a pair of eights, it is not a hand that is recommended to chase down high with.
Players want to stay away from most big straights as well. While this is a strong hand in regular Stud, in Stud 8 you are locked into one side and likely drawing to half at best. If you are going to play a three card straight, then you want to play three cards eight or under. The best are three card open ended straights such as 3-4-5, 4-5-6, 2-3-4, 5-6-7, and 6-7-8. One gappers are also strong as well. Hand such as 2-4-5, 3-5-6, 4-5-7, etc give you a good shot at scooping.
You need to be careful with flush draws. Again, as with straights, you need to make sure that you are not chasing high flush draws consistently. High flush draws lock you into one side of the pot only. You want three baby flush cards, and preferable three flush cards including an ace. A three card straight flush is obviously best. Three flush cards with an ace comes afterwards.
The next set of hands that you will want to look for are strong lows with potential. What I mean by this are low hands that are not straight or flushes, but under the right circumstances could be scoopers or force big pot situations. Hands such as A-2-7, A-3-6, A-4-7, etc are all ones that are pretty much strong low hands only, but if you catch an ace or aces-up, they could become strong scoop contenders. One point to note is that these hands play best in multi-way pots. The reason is that you will make low only a high percentage of the time. However, you will many times have the best low and can try and force either bets or raises out of your opponents.
The next group of hands can be considered intermediate hands. However, if you are disciplined to fold, you may try these as well. These hands are small pairs with babies. The best way to play a small pair is if it comes with an ace. That way if you catch an ace, you almost immediately jump into a strong lead for high. You want this hand to improve immediately, and preferably by catching trips right away. If you show a 3 on third street and catch a 3, many people will put you on a low draw and will not give you credit for trips. This will allow you to bet out at will, and probably get called barring your opponents catching bad.
When choosing what stud 8 poker hands to play, you also need to watch closely at the upcards from the other players. If you are dealt a split pair of eights with an ace and see one player fold an eight and another player fold an ace, then you know your hand is no good. Adversely, if you start with buried fives and see someone fold a five, then you know that it will be almost impossible for someone to make a low straight. Sometimes this information is as good as having your opponent flip their hand over for you to see.
Stud 8 or better rewards patient solid play. When players start with hands that they should not, they wind up chasing hands. In many cases, they are throwing in money just to get what they invested back. This results in them losing that much more. When a player starts with a proper starting hand strategy, they put themselves in the best position to scoop pots. Keep the above hands in mind the next time you play Stud 8 and you will see your results improve.