Before the rise of Texas Holdem as the nation’s most popular form of poker, Seven Card Stud was king. Many players that entered the realm of poker before 2003 likely grew up playing Stud. Although many players today primarily play Holdem, it is still to a players advantage to learn how to properly play Stud. The key to learning how to properly play stud is to learn proper starting hand selection. This article will go over how to select the proper Stud poker hands.
The best possible starting hand in Seven Card Stud is a rolled up set. For example, three aces, three kings, etc. When you are dealt this hand, you want to try and extract maximum value for the hand. You will want to just call on third street unless you are playing against a table of wild betters.
After a rolled up set, you are going to be looking for big pairs. These include aces, kings, queen, and even jacks. Pairs in Stud come in two types, buried pairs and split pairs. A buried pair is what it implies. Both of your hole cards on third street will make a pair. Split pairs occur when your door card pairs one of your hole cards. With big pairs, you will want to complete the bet on third street if you are the high card showing. Don’t get married to jacks and queens if there are raises from a king or an ace ahead of you. Odds are you will be behind to a over pair.
Small pairs and middle pairs are among the more trickier hands to play in Stud. In both cases, you will want your kicker to be a high card if you are considering playing the hand. Otherwise, you are looking to improve to trips fairly quickly. Small and medium pairs play better when they are buried. The main reason is due to the fact that if you catch trips, they are well disguised. Also, if you have a big door card and catch a pair, you will get more credit for trips, but more on that later.
After pairs, you are looking for three big suited cards, with three card straight flushes or three big suited cards including an ace the best. When you start with three big suited cards, you are giving yourself multiple possibilities to improve. If you start with A-K-10 of spade for example, if you catch an ace or king, you will likely have taken the lead.
Three medium or small suited cards should be played cautiously. If you can improve to your flush, be on the lookout for a higher flush. There is no more annoying feeling than to hit your flush and lose to a king or ace-high flush.
Next, let’s take a look at three card straights. The best three card straights are three big card straights. These allow you to improve with big pair as well as potential straight draws. With a three card straight, you are best served when you can improve to an open ended straight. An open ended straight gives you double the chances to improve to your hand as a gutshot straight. Small straights should really be avoided in most cases or played for a very minimum of bets. That does not mean that you cannot win with them, but when you do play them, they are vulnerable.
When playing Stud, keep close watch on the upcards of your opponents and do your best to memorize the folded cards as well. This will help you to get a better read on what your opponent is trying to draw to. For example, if your opponent looks to be drawing to a flush, but you know that six of his suit are out, his odds are greatly reduced. Another example would be someone that catches an open pair and tries to represent trips. If you saw that the other two cards of that rank have been folded, then you know that he either is trying to scare players out, or he has two pair.
Next, let’s take a look at a couple of common scenarios that you will need to look out for. First, you will notice that some players will raise every time they have the high card. This is common practice in Stud to try and represent the pair of your door card. In the case of many players, they will indeed have the pair they are representing. However, there are some that are trying to steal antes. You will be able to spot these players with practice.
Also, when a player catches an open pair on fourth street, many times they have just caught trips. In Stud, a player on fourth street may double bet. If your opponent catches an open pair and then just places the standard bet, be wary of trips. A tip that many beginning players are not aware of involves buried pairs. If your opponent calls a raise with a small card and then bets out after they appear to fail in improving their hand, look out. Chances are they just caught trips with a buried pair.
Be aware of what cards are out when you are deciding to play a hand. For example, if you are dealt a pair of fives with a king and you see a five and two kings out, then you will have a hard time improving. You should get out of the hand. Next, when you are thinking of playing a straight or flush draw, you want no more than two of your outs showing. No more than two of your suit and no more than 2 of the cards that you need to improve your straight.
Seven Card Stud is a game of patience and solid hand selection. Many players fail to recognize this concept and will end up bleeding money while they are learning to play the game. Picking the right Stud poker hands to play will give you the best chance to win and help to improve your bottom line.