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Seven Card Stud Strategy and Tips

Online Poker : Seven Card Stud Strategy and Tips
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Poker writer Bill Burton provides 7 card stud tips and insights
By Bill Burton

Seven Card Stud is a poker game that many people have played but few people play properly. It is impossible to cover a complete strategy in a few short pages. What I hope to do here is to make you aware of the types of situations you should be thinking about during the game with a few simple suggestions to start you on the right course.

Starting Hands:
As with any other poker game, the most important decision you will make is deciding to play after you see your starting cards. In seven card stud your starting three cards make up 42% of your final hand. The first thing you need to do after looking at your three cards is to look around the table at the up card of all the other players. Texas Hold’em and Omaha use community cards so it is fairly easy to judge the relative strength of your starting hand. This is not the case with seven card stud because each player receives seven unique cards.

Another player may be dealt a card that you need to make your hand a winner. If a card that you will need to improve your hand is showing, or the other players are showing superior cards then you might as well fold and save your self money.

The same three starting cards can be powerful in one hand and be completely unplayable in another hand. If you hold three suited cards but look around the board and see five cards of the same suit in your opponent’s hands then your chances of making a flush are greatly diminished. This is also true for a possible straight or even if you hold three big cards but see some of the same cards as your opponent’s up cards. So look at your starting three cards and then look around the table before making the decision to play. There are certain guidelines of sound starting hands that you should use as a base in choosing your starting hand.

The best starting hand you can have is three aces. Actually any time you have three of a kind you have a powerful hand. When you have a pair in the hole and it is matched by your door card (up card) this is known as being “rolled-up.” The odds of this happening are 424 to 1 so you won’t see it too often.

Besides three of a kind here are the other types of starting hands I would consider playing:
- Three cards to a straight flush.
-A big hidden pair.
-A big open pair. This is one card down matched by one up.
- Three high cards to a flush.
- Three cards in sequence
- Hidden middle or low pair with no matching card showing by others.
- Three cards to a straight of flush.

Your goal is to start with the strongest starting hand or one that has the potential of being the best hand at the showdown. These guidelines may seem a little tight but a winning player is very selective about the hands they play. Again these are only guidelines that will be used as a starting point. If you see cards you need scattered around the table you won’t even be able to continue with many of them.

If you have a big pair in your starting three cards you will want to play very aggressively by raising if there is a bet in front t of you. Your goal is to narrow the field to increase the chance that your big pair will hold up as the best hand. You want to make it very expensive for those players to continue with a drawing hand. Big pairs are best against a small field of players.

Continuing With Your Hand:
When you are dealt your second up card you are hoping to improve your hand by catching a card you need or by your opponent not improving their hand to beat the strong hand that you hold. As a general rule of thumb you want your hand to improve with every new card you are dealt. If you have a big pair and there is betting and raise, you have to consider that your opponent may have made three of a kind or two pair.

In a limit game many players will automatically call a bet because it is still the lower limits. This is not playing winning poker. Unless your hand improves or you still have a good drawing hand you should bet out now. Again you will need to look at the cards that your opponents have and determine if they hold a card you need.

Stud takes a lot of concentration but with a little practice you can be a winning player. Following these tips on choosing a stating hand should improve your game immediately.

Bill Burton

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