Limit Seven-Card Stud: Basic Strategy

Liz Lieu

The most important decisions in Seven-Card Stud are made on third street. It is there that you have to decide whether or not to play a hand and how to play it.

Many factors need to be taken into consideration when making your decision. For instance, some hands play better in multi-way pots and some in short-handed pots.

The hands that play well in multi-way pots are drawing hands, like three-flushes, three-straights and combinations of the two. The hands that play well in short-handed pots are big pairs.

One of the most valuable skills in Seven-Card Stud is the ability to be very selective about the hands you begin with. The problem with playing too many starting hands is that inherent weaknesses in what you're first dealt lead to complications in later betting rounds.

For instance, you might start with nothing and end up drawing to something with a hand you should not have been involved with in the first place.

An example of a weak Stud drawing hand would be a mediocre three-card straight (6-5)4 rainbow or a weak three-flush, e.g. (9c-5c)3c, with more than two of your opponents holding clubs as up-cards.

As a beginning player you will get trapped chasing these low-percentage draws and in the long run will pay far more for the privilege than you'd stand to gain on the rare occasion when you caught the cards you needed and won. Mistakes like these can prove very costly in the long run.

There are a number of issues that should be taken into account when deciding which hands to play. They are as follows:

  1. Which cards are out?
  2. How many players are in the pot when it is your turn to act?
  3. Is the table tight or loose?
  4. How many players are sitting at the table?
  5. Has the pot been raised? If so, from what player and position?
  6. What is your position in relation to the raiser (if any)?

The most important factors to consider are which cards are out and how many players are in the pot. The way these two issues interrelate may sometimes make it correct to throw away the best hand on third street.

For example, in a multi-way pot where you hold J-J, and both of the other jacks and one seven are out, you should fold, even though no one has represented a bigger pair or has bigger up cards than a jack.

The chance of you still holding the best hand when all the cards are out is simply too small to justify calling or raising. You can play this hand when you are in an ante-steal position (it is already short-handed), or in a multi-way pot when all your cards are live.

Note: While it is imperative that you remember which cards are out on third street, you must not stop there, as it is also very necessary that you watch the other cards as they are turned up.

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