Part one of our beginners guide to Stud broke down the very basics of the game and some key starting points. In part two, we'll delve into some basic game strategy.
We'll start with some of the usual beginner mistakes you should try to avoid.
Common Mistakes in Limit Seven-Card Stud
- Playing too many starting hands.
- Not paying attention to which cards are out.
- Not folding with modest holdings and weak draws.
- Not raising with premium holdings, thus letting too many drawing hands in.
- Drawing for cards that are likely to give you a second-best hand. For example, calling an opponent who raised showing three to a flush with a straight draw is likely to land you with a losing, second-best hand.
- Paying exclusive attention to your own game and not that of your opponents. How many players are in on fourth street? Did someone raise on third street? What types of players are left in the pot? These are all questions to consider during play.
- Not being aggressive enough on third street (taking initiative) and fourth and fifth streets (following through/protecting hand).
- Calling all the way to the river without proper pot odds.
- Calling too often, instead of raising, when you have the best hand.
General Third Street Advice
The most important decisions in Seven-Card Stud are made on third street. You must be able to decide whether or not to play a hand and how to play it.
Some hands play better in multiway pots and some in short-handed pots. The hands that play well in multiway 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 these mistakes are usually compounded 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. Mistakes like this 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:
- Which cards are out?
- How many players are in the pot when it is your turn to act?
- Is the table tight or loose?
- How many players are sitting at the table?
- Has the pot been raised? If so, from what player and position?
- What is your position in relation to the raiser (if any)?
The most important factors to consider are what cards are out and how many players are in the pot. The combination of these two may sometimes make it correct to throw away the best hand on third street.
For example, in a multiway pot where you hold (J-J)7 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 chances of you still holding the best hand when all the cards are out are 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 multiway pot when all your cards are live.
And, while it is imperative that you remember which cards are out on third street, you must not stop there, as it's also crucial that you watch the other cards as they are turned up.
It is very important to look around and see whether or not your hand is live. Most weak pairs, straight draws, flush draws, etc., are playable when your cards are completely live.
For example, you start with (T♠ 9♠) 8♦. This hand is much stronger if all sevens are live, as compared to two of them being out. If all sevens and a jack are out, your hand is almost dead.
The only exception to this concept is when you hold a pair of aces or kings (when no ace is showing), which can be played in most situations even if the hand is almost completely dead.
In order to make it easier when deciding what to look for in your starting hand, here's a list of the best starting hands.
- Three of a kind (also called rolled-up trips). Starting with (A-A) A and on down.
- The big pairs AA-JJ. The hand is stronger when the pair is hidden, thus making the hand more deceptive to play against. Also, your kicker is important; a (J-J) A is stronger than a (J-J) 2.
- The big suited connectors, such as (A♠ K♠) Q♠, (K♠ Q♠) J♠ or (J♠ T♠) Q♠.
- The medium pairs TT-88 and medium suited connectors, such as (J♠ T♠) 9♠, (T♠ 9♠) 8♠ and (9♠ 8♠) 7♠.
- The big suited semi-connectors, such as (A♠ Q♠) J♠, (K♠ J♠) T♠ or (A♠ K♠) T♠.
Mike McD, in the much-quoted Rounders line, talks about having "nines or better wired, jacks or better split." This means having pocket nines or better for your two down cards, and pairs of jacks or better with one of them your show card. He also mentions "three high cards to a flush."
All the aforementioned hands are valuable Stud holdings if played properly. This is a very tight system for starting hands. If you find yourself playing too many hands, it's a great default to revert to.
A good way to increase your profits is by stealing the antes. In a regular game, you generally get enough pot odds to show a profit if your steal success is around 40%.
However, your chances do not actually have to be that good because there are times when you will win the pot even though someone called you down.
An example of this would be catching a scare card (usually an ace or a king, or a card that might not help your true hand but connects your show cards, making a straight or a flush possible in your hand) on fourth street. Doing so enables you to win the pot by betting and representing a big hand.
Oftentimes your opponent will fold a small pair on fourth street if you have been the aggressor and if you have higher board cards than his pair.
Another reason to steal the antes is because it adds deception to your overall game. If you only raise with legitimate raising hands, you will never get any action and thus will not win as much as you could.
Anytime you are on a steal, it is important that you consider your opponents' up cards. In general, consider stealing when you hold the highest or second-highest up card.
A good time to steal is when you have the second-highest up card and the highest up card has yet to act. This creates the illusion that you have a legitimate hand since you raised into a higher card.
When trying this move you must always consider what type of player is holding the highest up card. If that player is a good, aggressive player, be more cautious about stealing.
Occasionally, if you suspect another player might be stealing, you should attempt to resteal. A good time to do this is when you hold a bigger up card than your opponent and your hand has some additional value, like a three-straight or a flush.
Since you were planning to call regardless, you may as well try for a reraise if it seems likely that your opponent is on a steal.
If you are playing in a tight game, you can steal when you are sitting up front holding an ace or king as your up card. This is usually a mistake in a loose game because the chance for a successful steal is much smaller.
In general, you should not try to steal when your up card is duplicated in any of your opponents' hands. Your opponents will know you are less likely to hold the hand you are trying to represent and that you will most likely not improve to that hand if you get played with.
In part three we will take a look at some of the odds and statistics important in becoming a winning Stud player.
More Articles in the Beginers Guide to Limit Seven-Card Stud:
- Part 1 - Tips, Structure & Antes and Key Advice
- Part 3 - Playing Rolled-Up Trips, Big Pairs and More.
View Best Rooms to Play: 7 Card Stud