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Poker Strategy | Seven Card Stud

Seven Card Stud

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Before I became a Holdem player, I was a Stud player. Like most Stud players I have migrated to Holdem because most of the live ones play Holdem now. It's just too hard to find a real good Stud game any more. In the last two trips to Las Vegas, I've only seen one Stud game, period. Even Online they can be quite hard to find, but most established sites like PokerStars, FullTilt, and Party usually have games, although they tend to be low limit.

Recently I've found the Stud games at PokerStars quite soft, and Stud is a great way to take a break or pass time. Really I'm still a Stud player by inclination, and my Holdem style, slightly tighter than Gibraltar, reflects that. I remember a discussion with a friend, a Holdem player, about the two variations and style. His goal in Holdem; "Maximize your winnings." My style in Stud; "Minimize your losses." Optimists play Holdem and Pessimists Stud.

Stud may be one of the easiest games to learn, but it is arguably the hardest to play well. In Holdem and Omaha the odds are always the same, every hand. They never change unless someone gives you a peek at their hole cards, or the dealer happens to expose a card. In Stud the odds change with every turn of a card. Some may argue that the people skills needed for No Limit Holdem makes it more difficult, but I tend to agree with Sklansky that the people skills required for Stud Hi/Lo with a declare at the end makes it the most difficult of all.

All of that aside, there is one aspect of stud that makes it very appealing to many players. In Stud you will win, when the cards come. You must simply avoid losing with marginal cards. A Stud player can tighten up and reduce his variance to almost zero. Of course the reduced variance is at a cost of reduced win rate. You don't lose but you don't win much either. This low variance makes Seven Card Stud ideal for clearing bonuses. Ken P in Poker Perambulation gives some great guidance for all you bonus whores on how to quickly clear bonuses by multi-tabling Stud.

What is super tight play? Well you don't chase. Some of you may remember the article, Know Thy Weakness. If a player with an Ace door card raises, you muck your pocket kings. (Unless you have a great read.) You don't even consider a small split pair unless your kicker is higher than your opponents' door cards, and none of your cards are showing. If you have a second best pair, no strong re-draw, and improper pot odds, you muck your hand to a bet or raise. All seven cards count and you must win your share at the river. So, you have to play some flush and straight draws but you should never take a card off unless your cards are live and you have the proper pot odds to do it. If you are interested, you might find "Seven Card Stud, the Waiting Game," by George Percy. It is still one of the best Stud books available after 25 years, and at $10 is a super bargain.

Good Luck


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