The first step in mastering any poker game is simply to learn how to play the game properly. This is especially true for any game that may be played with a number of variations. 7 Card Stud High/Low is played quite a few different ways. While the vast majority of games that you will find are played as “8 or better,” meaning that the low hand must be 8 or lower to qualify for the low half of the pot, learning how to play 7 Card Stud High/Low Regular, with its own quirks and nuances, is also important for those times where you find it dealt in your regular home game.
7 Card Stud High/Low Regular is almost always played in a limit format, meaning that each round of betting has a specific amount of money that can be bet or raised. This limit doubles after the fifth card is dealt, and stays at that limit for the rest of the hand. The players at the table (anywhere from 2 to 8) ante between 10-20% of the low limit amount before the deal, and are each then dealt 3 cards, one at a time, two face down and one face up. In this variation of High/Low, the player with the HIGHEST card showing has to start the betting with a “bring-in” bet of between 25 and 50% of the lower limit. The action starts in clockwise fashion with the player to the immediate left of the bring-in; players act by either folding, calling the bring-in bet or completing it to the full amount of the lower limit. House rule dictates how many raises are allowed in each round of betting.
The game is dealt identically to 7 Card Stud High, with a round of action on each street beginning with the LOWEST hand showing – note that if a pair shows on fourth street, the maximum limit remains at the low bet limit. Players can use any combination of five cards out of seven to make both a high and a low hand – straights and flushes do not count against a low hand and Aces play as high and low.
As in any High/Low game, the main strategy for a profitable player should be playing cards with the potential to win both ways, or “scoop” the pot. This is even more essential in 7 Card Stud High/Low Regular, because the lack of a qualification for the low hand means that SOMEONE will always win the low half. Therefore, playing high cards is almost always a losing strategy in this game. Unless you have a good possibility of winning low with your first three cards (along with, ideally, a potentially strong high hand) you should fold and move on to another hand. The best possible starting hands are three suited low cards (either eight or lower, or lower than any of the other cards showing in other players’ hands) or three cards that could potentially make a low straight.
As in any game of Stud poker, you should be keenly aware of the cards showing in other players’ hands as the deal plays out. This will enable you to have a very good idea of where you stand in both directions, and also give you a sense of what your opponents are trying to make, and what their chances are of getting there, based on the other cards that are showing, in addition to your own hole cards.
Pay particular attention to where the low hand is at the table, since you can often know that you are a “lock” (100% chance of winning) for winning that half of the pot, and can bet accordingly, just based on the other cards at the table. Remember that the fewer cards that are available to you to complete your hand, the lower your odds are of actually making a winner.
DO NOT be afraid to give up your hand when you hit a bad card. Remember that money you save by not betting is as good as money you win by taking down a pot, since both will be in your pocket when the night is over. In the long run, judicious folding will often be the difference between a profitable player and a losing one, so be very careful about getting caught trying to chase against players who are ahead of you. Obviously, you can’t just give up every time you hit a bad card, because your opponents will then be able to bet you off of hands whether they have anything or not, however, you should evaluate both your cards and those of the other players in the hand each time a new card is dealt, and try and get a sense of whether your chances of making a winning hand (particularly one that wins the whole pot) are worth what it will cost to continue to draw.
Now that you know how to play 7 Card Stud High/Low Regular, we suggest that you take a look at other articles on this site that go into more detail about strategies and techniques that you can use to become an even more profitable player. Keep refining your game and you will consistently be taking home the money wherever you play.
PokerWorks Main Poker Variant Index: An Introduction to Poker Variants
The Main Index for Poker Variant Seven Card Stud High/Low.