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Seven Card Stud

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Two Simple Strategies for Winning at Seven Card Stud

Seven Card Stud can be a confusing game and it requires a lot of patience, so there are many new poker players who write off Stud as an old guy's game that's not worth the time to learn.

It doesn't have to be this way. In fact, it positively shouldn't be this way.

Seven Card Stud, after all, is a poker game in which you can see your opponents' cards. If poker is a game of information, and it most certainly is, seeing people's cards should count for something, and it most certainly does. Access to this information offers a huge opportunity.

The problem is, it can take years to master the subtleties of how you exploit that info. Here, then, are two simple strategies for 7 Card Stud that can work right away, even for new players:

It's the Economy, Stupid

Actually it's not the economy and has nothing to do with the economy.

Rather, the advice here is to play premium hands and fold the rest, until you know when to deviate from the premium hand strategy. With three cards in the hole and a limit betting system, newer players can afford to be choosy about starting hands as they learn the game.

Your playable hands on third street are:
  • Big pairs (Tens or higher)
  • Small and medium pairs with a high kicker (example 3-A-3).
As for drawing hands, play suited cards if they're large. Three suited cards below a ten (9h-5h-2h, for example) isn't a good starting hand. If it was three high suited cards (Kh-Qh-Th), then you have a good hand to play. Not only do you have your high cards that you could pair, but you have flush and straight draw potential.

Similarly, three low unsuited straight cards isn't so hot either. 456 unsuited is a weak hand. You don't want to play this hand, low straights are not that exciting in Seven Card Stud.

As always, these are general guidelines and dependent upon the situation you're in. Sometimes it pays to deviate from the rules. You definitely need to mix up your play to keep people from knowing that you only play premium hands.

Still, a preference for playing premium hands is a good quality for a Stud player to have. Yes, this may require boatloads of patience, but hey, that's poker.

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Live Cards Are Your Everything

Live cards. Live cards. Live cards.

Seven Card Stud is all about live cards. A hand that might look good at first glance could be complete garbage depending on that cards that are on the board, in the hands of your opponents.

For example, say it's third street and the pot has been raised. Your hand is T7T (a pair of 10s and a 7 kicker). Also out there as the other players' door cards are the other two 10s and a 7.

Your hand is pretty weak and probably isn't worth playing. You can't hit 10s full house because the other two 10s are already out, and you're less likely to pair your 7 because again, another one is already out there on the board.

Also pay close attention to the cards out when you have a drawing hand. For instance, if you are holding Ah-Kh-Jh, you obviously need to look around and see if the Qh and/or 10h are on the board, but also you need to investigate how many hearts are out on the board, for the more hearts that are out, the less likely it is mathematically that you'll be able to make your high flush.

The more live cards there are in that deck, the better your odds.

This simple act of considering what cards you need, and then looking around the table to see if the cards you need are in other players' possession and thus dead to you, is a must-do for every 7 Card Stud hand and perhaps that's why less mature poker players find this game boring:

Because they find thinking boring!

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