7 Card Stud High/Low Regular is a game that is rarely played any more outside of home games or in high limit casino poker games in a mixed format. While it still can be found frequently in those settings, it has, for the most part, been replaced by the Stud High/Low 8 or Better format in online and casino games. Nonetheless, it is a game that you will likely come across in more casual settings, and it is worth understanding some of the strategic differences between this game and High/Low with a qualifier. We will discuss both games, however, this article is devoted to understanding 7 Card Stud High/Low Regular Beginning Strategy.
The most important concept to grasp with this game is that you should almost never play a starting three-card hand unless it has a possibility to make a low. Since the pot will ALWAYS be divided between the high and low hands, starting into a hand with virtually no opportunity to win at least half the pot is a losing strategy.
At best, unless there are a large number of players chasing their hands for many cards, you will break even, and often, you will simply be throwing your money away. Our advice is: Just toss those cards away and wait for the next hand.
To take an extreme example, let’s say you are dealt “rolled-up” queens (three-of-a-kind on your first three cards). In a 7 Card Stud High game, this would be a hand that you would be raising and re-raising with. In 7 Card Stud High/Low regular, unless all the other cards showing on the board are also face cards, you will usually put them in the muck, unless you know that winning half the pot will get you much more than just your money back, meaning that there are lots of players staying in with random hands.
But in a tighter game, imagine that only one other player, with a six showing, decides to stay in against you. Even if he has something as weak as 2-8-6 unsuited, you have already almost certainly lost the low half of the pot, and he is “freerolling” against you for the other half, meaning that he can keep betting and drawing to try and hit a straight against you, on the chance that your hand doesn’t improve (and it won’t, a large percentage of the time).
This is a situation that can become very costly to you over time, and you want to avoid it whenever possible. Without a qualifier for low, a player against you who can see that his hand is lower than yours can NEVER be pushed off the pot, so it is better not to even get involved in the hand.
Once you understand this most basic concept, you can begin to look at the types of hands you DO want to play. Ideally, you want play cards that have “scoop” potential, meaning ones that have a solid chance of winning both ends of the pot. While you can scrape out some small profit consistently winning half-pots in multi-way hands, the real money is for players who take down the entire pot against multiple opponents in a high/low game. Therefore, you want to especially focus on playing low cards that also have the potential to make a powerful high hand.
- The best of these three-card hands are three small suited cards (which can make both a low and a flush) and three small cards to a straight (ideally three-in-a-row, but sequences with gaps are fine as well).
- Three small cards that contain an ace (eight or lower, or three cards lower than anything else showing on the board) is also a powerful starting hand, because of the strength of the ace, which can often take down high hand by pairing or making two pair with aces as the top pair.
- For the same reason, a small pair with an ace kicker is also worth playing.
- While three random small cards (like 2-6-8 unsuited) can get you in trouble, if you clearly have the best low hand you can go ahead and play it for at least one additional card to see if it starts to form a high while maintaining its low chances.
Most other hands should be thrown away, unless you are at a very tight table where you can push other players off hands with a strong “door” card (the first card dealt face up).
Once you have decided to play a three-card hand, the next card will determine most of your strategy for the rest of the hand. If you completely miss your draw, and other players have improved, just fold and move on to the next hand.
There is nothing more expensive in the long run than chasing hands that become second-best at the showdown. This point cannot be overemphasized enough. If you miss on the fourth card, you only have three cards left to get, and you need to hit two of them to make a hand. Unless it is clear that your opponents were also not helped by what they were dealt, or if your card creates a scary-looking board for your opponents (for example, you are dealt 2-3-4 and your fourth card is another 2, which is bad for you, but makes for a very powerful board for both low and the low straight), you are almost always better off exiting the hand.
As the hand continues, keep aware of the other card showing on the board. If you can clearly see that you have a “lock” (sure win) for at least half the pot (usually the low half), try and jam as many bets in as possible against your opponents. This can serve two purposes: 1) If there are a few other players in the hand, it will increase your winnings, and 2) You may be able to push the only player who can beat you for the other half of the pot off his hand, and thereby take the entire hand.
We will explore more advanced strategies in the game in other articles, and point out the differences in play for other 7 Card Stud High/Low variants as well and this gives you the basic knowledge to hold your own when you sit down at the table.
The Main Index for Poker Variant Seven Card Stud High/Low Regular.