Seven Card Stud Poker Strategy Tips
As we have stated, seven-card stud is an intricate game, and determining the best possible play in a given situation involves numerous factors. So before we get into specifics on what hands to play and how you should play them, following are a few tips that will help you make the correct decisions.
Play live hands
Seven-card stud, as its name implies, is a seven-card game. Consequently, you should play hands that have a good chance to improve. For example, if you start with three cards of the same suit — called a three flush — and several other cards of this suit are out on board, your hand is said to be dead and therefore should be thrown away. By the same token, if only one or two of your suited cards are showing, you have a hand of value that should be played in most situations.
Big pairs play better against only one or two opponents, while drawing hands prefer lots of company.
A hand like the
and a hand like the
are both good hands, but they play much differently. Big pairs usually do best when played in short-handed pots, because against only a few opponents, a big pair has a reasonable chance of winning without improvement.
The opposite is true of the drawing hands, such as a three flush or a three straight. Although these are good starting hands, they have no immediate value. Moreover, you will not complete your flush or straight very often. You therefore prefer to have many opponents, so that when you do make your hand, someone will still be around to pay it off.
Small and medium pairs are much worse than big pairs.
A hand like the
and even a hand like the
are occasionally good hands. But in general, there is a big difference in strength between these hands and the big pairs. For example, when you play a small or medium pair, one of your opponents could easily have you beaten or can catch a card higher than your pair, which would give him a bigger pair that will beat you.
Having one or more high cards adds value to your hand.
We have just touched on this. Holding a high card allows you to catch another card of the same rank, which might be enough to win the pot. Having more than one high card is even better.
Be aware — and beware — of scare cards.
A scare card is a card that either improves your hand or allows you to catch another card that will improve your hand. For example, catching a suited jack on fourth street to go along with a king adds enormous value to your hand. Your opponent now has to worry about a possible straight or flush, as well as a possible big pair. Likewise, you need to be concerned when your opponent catches a scare card.
It is often correct to chase.
Even though you should be selective of the hands you play, once you enter a pot, it’s often correct to go all the way. This is sometimes true even when you are sure you don’t have the best hand. Of course, if your hand becomes hopeless, you should discard it. But in many situations, you will have enough ways to win that chasing is worthwhile.