Seven Card Stud Strategy Tips & Advice

Seven card stud is my favorite poker game, and I knew how to play stud long before I had any idea how to play Texas holdem. Lots of folks play holdem now, but it’s been my experience that seven card stud games are generally very good if you know how to play well. It’s also been my experience that you don’t have to be an expert to have a decent night at a stud table. Understanding the basics will usually be enough for you to have some fun, and if you’ve chosen the right game, you could even be profitable without being an expert.

Seven Card Stud Tips

  • The rule of thumb as poker games go is that you play tighter the more cards are involved in a game. So you’d play looser in Texas holdem than seven card stud, and looser in seven card stud than in Omaha. Playing tight is essential if you want to win money playing stud poker.
  • The cards that are out have a huge effect on whether or not you should play a hand. If you’re drawing to a flush, and three of the suit you’re looking for are in someone else’s hand, then your hand is pretty much already dead and should be folded. So pay attention.
  • On the other hand, if your hand is live, play it. Your hand is live if the cards you need to improve aren’t showing in someone else’s hand.
  • Big pairs play better against one or two opponents, so if you have a big pair before the flop, you should raise with it to eliminate competition. This isn’t terribly different from holdem strategy in fact.
  • Small and medium pairs are drawing hands. You really need a strong kicker in order to play them, and it’s important that your hand be live if you’re going to play it too.
  • High cards are better than low cards. A lot better, in fact.
  • Know what scare cards are. You should beware opponents who catch scare cards, and you should take advantage of scare cards that you get. A lot of times you can win a pot without a showdown after catching a scare card.

Starting Hands for Seven Card Stud

  • 3 of a kind. You’ll only get this hand once out of every 425 hands you play. When you do get a 3 of a kind, it’s such a strong hand that you can almost do no wrong with it, although I like to play it really strong.
  • High Pairs. Almost always play high pairs, and play them aggressively, especially if you have a good kicker.
  • Small and medium pairs. Sometimes you’ll play them, and sometimes you won’t. A lot of it depends on whether or not your kicker is high and/or live.
  • 3 to a flush or 3 to a straight. If you can get in cheap with these, and your hand is live, then these hands are okay to play, but since they’re drawing hands, try to keep a lot of people in the pot with you so that you get paid off when you win. On the other hand, if more than 3 of your outs are gone already, then your hand is probably dead and should probably be folded.

More Tips and Strategy – Later Streets

  • If your opponent pairs his door card, be careful, because she probably has three of a kind. This hand is often best folded unless you have a very live flush draw (4 to a flush with none of your suit already out).
  • Don’t check with the best hand. Play your good hands aggressively so that you can get more money in the pot.
  • A lot of times it is correct to chase in seven card stud, even if you think you don’t have the best hand. What you must factor into this decision is the size of the pot and how live your hand is.
  • If you can beat a bluff at the end, it’s usually correct to call a final bet, because the pot odds usually warrant it. (There’s usually a lot of money in the pot, and it’s cheap to see the showdown.)

These seven card stud strategy tips and advice have gotten me through many a stud game, and even gotten me through a few seven card stud SnG’s. I remember reading that Larry Flynt prefers stud to holdem because it’s more intricate and interesting because of all the cards that are out. And with seven card stud, as with other games with more cards, luck plays less of a role than skill.

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