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Poker Strategy | Seven Card Stud

Seven Card Stud for Beginners - 4th Street

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The betting limit on 4th street is still only a half bet. It is often correct to call with some hands that are quite marginal, if those hands can improve to the winning hand. Even so it is still proper to fold most hands that do not improve. Your rule of thumb should be: If it takes more than one card to complete your draw you should FOLD. Additionally if 3 or more of your possible outs have hit the board, you should FOLD in most situations.
If 4th street improved your hand you will probably be in this hand until the river. In most cases you will be betting or raising, unless you are on a flush or straight draw. The most significant exceptions are: When you have the second best two pair, or second best trips, FOLD.

Since reading the hands is so important, it is beyond this piece and will be addressed here later, but for practice you could rail bird some of the best players in the world at FullTilt poker. The last hand/hand history application in Full Tilt's poker client lets you easily examine the last 50 hands.

Since 4th street will miss you more often than help, we'll address the unimproved hands first, then address your options when your hand is improved.


Trips, {5-Diamonds}{5-Hearts} {5-Spades}{8-Diamonds} if you started with trips, or improved to trips, you probably still have the best hand. Your goal is to get as much money as possible in the pot. In some situations, slow playing might be a consideration, but in most cases a BET or Raise is always the best play.

• Considerations:
• VS a hand like: ?-? (‘?' designates down cards) {Q-Hearts}{Q-Spades} you might consider slowing down a bit. One of the worst plays in poker is to chase a higher set of trips. It has a very negative EV. If you do not put him on trips, you should continue to bet or raise. His response might be the best indication you'll ever get that he does in fact have trips.
• VS a hand like: ?-? {Q-Hearts}{8-Hearts} and you believe that the player is on a flush draw, you should definitely raise. You do not want to give him a free draw to a flush.

You hold a big pair, {Q-Diamonds}{Q-Hearts} {8-Diamonds}{5-Hearts} even unimproved this hand could still be the best hand. BET or RAISE.

• Considerations:
• VS a paired door Card: ?-? {9-Diamonds}{9-Hearts} This hand would probably be first to act and should bet. A raise now may actually save you money. If they reraise, you can probably put them on trips. If they check raise, trips are probable.
• VS a Higher Card: ?-? {J-Spades}{A-Hearts} Many players will play any hand containing 2 face cards. If this player becomes aggressive there is a possibility that he has a higher pair. Based on your read of the player you might consider laying down your Queens, especially if there are no other Aces showing.

You hold a small pair with a good kicker, {2-Spades}{2-Diamonds} {K-Hearts}{8-Diamonds} since you have represented a pair of kings, a continuation bet might win the pot right here, if none of your opponents have shown improvement. If a player with a higher card than your kicker plays back at you, consider folding. If some one else bets, FOLD, unless your kicker and pair are still live.

• Considerations: This was a very speculative hand to start with. Although you would like to see one more card, only call a bet if your cards are still live. Of course if you bet on 3rd street you may continue to represent the high pair with a continuation bet on 4th street.

You hold any small pairs with bad kickers, {8-Diamonds}{5-Hearts} {8-Spades}{5-Diamonds} this is a very marginal hand and for the beginner should be abandoned to a single bet.

• Considerations: When there are many players and pot odds get large, there is a temptation to continue with this hand if none of your outs are dead, but too often it is a trap that will force you to continue to call with a bad hand only to have it proved, on the river, when you lose to a better hand. Abandon it sooner rather than later.

You hold 3 cards to a Flush, {5-Hearts}{K-Hearts} {A-Hearts}{8-Clubs} you should only consider playing these hands if all of your outs are live. Do not call a single bet unless no hearts are showing and there are 3 or more opponents. This hand requires good pot odds to continue.

• Considerations: This hand is a loser. FOLD. Although both these hands look pretty, they stand to be losers. A hand like {8-Diamonds}{10-Diamonds} {9-Diamonds}{2-Spades} which also contains a possible straight is slightly better but for the beginner, a lay down is still probably best.

You hold 3 cards to the Broadway straight, {10-Diamonds}{Q-Spades} {K-Diamonds}{2-Spades} You should FOLD to any bet.

• Considerations: My Grandfather lost two farms chasing straights. Finally caught one and lost the third. Like the flush draw, this still looks good and there are 3 more cards to come, but it just isn't worth it. FOLD.

You hold 3 cards to a medium straight (8 high,) {8-Diamonds}{7-Spades} {6-Hearts}{Q-Hearts} FOLD to any bet.

• Considerations: NONE, FOLD.

You hold 2 face cards and a rag, {5-Diamonds}{Q-Hearts} {A-Clubs}{8-Diamonds} FOLD to any bet.

• Considerations: If you bet on 3rd Street to represent a pair of Aces, you should probably continue to represent the Aces by betting on 4th Street. Not only does this have some bluffing equity, it also motivates your opponents to call more often when you do have Aces.

Again, unlike Hold'em where you only see your two card hand, in a normal stud game you will see eight or more cards before the first betting rounds so the situation changes on every card. Below are the modifications for our starting hands based on the up cards of our opponents, and examples of these situations. Additionally, in the situation where you are the low card and must make the initial bring-in bet, simply bet the maximum when your hand dictates that you raise.
Your Trips are probably the best hand. You should continue to bet unless another, aggressive player is betting them for you. You might consider slow playing and check raising on 5th Street when the bet size doubles.

High pairs should be evaluated. Are they still the best hand or have some of your opponents caught up. Consider folding to a bet or raise when someone holds a higher up card, especially if one or more of your cards, including your kicker are already out. If you do have the highest pair and one of your cards is already out, always bet or raise. You want to win the pot right now. It is not a good hand to slow play.

Small pairs with a good kicker should probably not call a raise if one or more of your cards or already out.

Never play an unimproved flush draw if 2 of your cards are showing, unless you also have high card strength.

Never play an unimproved straight draw if 2 of your required cards are showing, unless you also have high card strength
Simple rule 1: It will probably save you money. If two are more of your outs are showing, you should probably fold.
Simple rule 2: At this point, do not chase a higher pair period, you hold {K-Diamonds}{K-Hearts} {5-Diamonds}{7-Spades} vs. ?-? {A-Clubs}{A-Diamonds}, FOLD.

Any time your hand is Two Pair or Trips on 4th street you should BET or RAISE. You should only consider slow playing trips if your opponent's boards are unthreatening.

The hands that pose the most opportunity for costly mistakes are those that give you some improvement but do not make a hand that could win. First we'll address the pure draw hands like a flush or straight draw.

Four card Flush, {K-Diamonds}{Q-Diamonds} {3-Diamonds}{5-Diamonds}: Generally you will now be in the hand until the river. You should consider folding on 4th street if:

• You put another player on Trips with a high confidence, FOLD
• Any time you are heads up against a better hand.
• Any time 4 or more of your suit, (diamonds,) are gone.
• If your opponent is drawing to a higher flush.

Four card straight, {8-Diamonds}{7-Clubs} {6-Hearts}{5-Diamonds}: Like the 4 flush, you will probably be in the hand until the river, but the list of situations where you should consider folding is expanded:

• You put another player on Trips with a high confidence, FOLD
• Any time you are heads up against a better hand, even a single high pair.
• Any time 3 or more of your outs are gone.
• You are up against a 4 flush.
• You are up against a higher Straight Draw.

To illustrate the peril of straight draws I think a personal experience will provide the best illustration. When I was first introduced to live casino poker, (I had been a winner on kitchen tables and army cots all over the world.) I, like most novices, lost more often than I won. I turned my fortunes around when I purchased a simple computer simulation that allowed you to set styles of play and quickly run thousands of trials then compare the results. I quickly developed a winning strategy, but it could never do as well, as one of the profiles provided with the program, Riverboat Tom. I compared the two profiles and found that Tom did not play straight draws. I removed the straight draw from my starting hand standards and my win rate became comparable to Tom's. Straights are just too weak. They are hard to make and when you do make them they often lose to higher straights and flushes. Straights must be considered in the ante/Fixed Limit game, but you should seldom pass up an opportunity to fold a straight draw.
In a Spread Limit no ante game you should not play straight draws.

Marginal improved

These are hands that don't improve directly, but 4th street does provide some additional outs, for example:

• Your small pair no kicker has become a small pair with a 3 Flush, {8-Hearts}{6-Hearts} {8-Diamonds}{Q-Hearts}
• Your small pair no kicker has become a small pair with a 3 Straight, {8-Hearts}{6-Spades} {8-Diamonds}{7-Hearts}
• 3 straight and 3 flush, {7-Diamonds}{8-Hearts} {9-Diamonds}{2-Diamonds}

These are still very marginal holdings but for a simple bet may be played profitability if most of your outs are still live and there are several callers. These hands are best avoided in short handed pots. Fold to 2 bets. The other marginal situations, improving to; a High Pair and a flush draw, a single High pair, or small pair high kicker, should be addressed based on your read of your opponents. With only 3 cards to go you never want to chase a better hand. In stud it is always best to fold early, before you trap yourself into calling with weak hands.

One of the biggest mistakes made in Stud is to call a small bet on 4th street hoping for an improvement that will make the hand playable on 5th street. For the beginner, a fold of any marginal hand is probably the best strategy. If you feel you must play some of these hands I suggest that you only play them if no more than a single out is visible in other hands.

Note: FullTilt poker has regular Free/cheap Seven Card Stud and Mixed game tournaments starting regularly throughout the day.
Seven Card Stud for Beginners - 5th Street coming soon

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