Fourth street in any stud game is an extremely important time in the hand. It is the last time you will be able to make a smaller limit bet before the stakes go up. Because of that, you need to be very aware of whether your cards justify continuing on or folding. This article will give you all the information you need to know about how to play fourth street in a 7 Card Stud High/Low Regular game.
First of all, the most important concept to keep in mind is where you stand in relation to scooping the pot. Do you have a hand that can scoop? Just as importantly, do you have a hand that is likely to GET scooped? Depending on, both your cards and the number of players in the pot, and what they are showing on board, you should be able to make a reasoned decision of where you stand in relation to those essential questions.
Since there is no qualification for low in 7 Card Stud High/Low Regular, you need to be acutely aware of where you stand in relation to the low end of the pot. If you began with three low cards, and so did your opponents, and you catch a high card on fourth street, while others do not, your chance of winning the low end, and therefore scooping the pot, is reduced to a very low percentage. If you are up against just one other player at this point, you need to realize that you are going to have to put in bets on three more streets (at double the current amount) just to have a chance to get your money back. In most instances, you should just fold your hand right away, and save your money for a better opportunity.
If, on the other hand, it is your opponent who catches the high card when you hit another low one, you will always bet out. One of the most important concepts in stud is to make sure you don’t miss any bets. In this case, you don’t want to ever give a free card to an opponent over whom you hold an advantage, as he may be able to catch up to you on fifth street, while he would fold to you right now if you bet out.
If, instead of being in a heads-up situation, you are in a multi-way pot, and you hit bad while everyone else catches good, you want to fold your hand UNLESS the amount of money already in the pot gives you pot odds so irresistible that you are justified in seeing one more card, OR if your hand is extremely likely to take down the high if you hit one more card (such as a one-card draw to a high flush). Also, if your starting hand is one of the more powerful three-card hands, such as three cards to a low straight flush or even an unbroken straight where all or most of your outs are still live, you can see fifth street as long as it isn’t too costly.
If both you and your opponent hit good cards on fourth street, you will have a variety of options facing you, depending on what the boards look like, what the fourth card actually did to your hand, what type of player your opponent is, etc. If the action is on you, you can either bet or check, and if you check, you can either check-call or check-raise your opponent, IF he bets. Remember that you want to be very careful not to miss bets in a seven-card stud game, so if you are not sure that your opponent will bet if you don’t, lead out yourself, to avoid giving a free card.
The check-call can sometimes add deception to a particularly strong hand that you are not that worried about being chased. For example, if you have 2-4-3-5 and decide to check to an opponent showing 6-8, he may think you have a much worse hand than you actually do, and misread the situation entirely, thereby committing to playing much deeper into the hand than he otherwise would have if you complete your straight later. Remember also, that if your fourth card pairs one of the other three, you MAY be getting yourself into a situation where you can get scooped (opponent winds up with a better low and a higher pair, especially if your pair is particularly low, like deuces or threes). Proceed with caution in this situation.
If you catch a good card on fourth street in a multi-way pot, you should make your betting decisions based upon how many players you would like to have in the pot going forward. For example, is you have the 2-3-4-5 described above, you want to encourage players to stay in the pot, so if someone else bets in front of you, you should just call rather than raise, hoping other players will come along for the ride. If, instead, you have a hand that will be much better off played heads-up (for example, you paired a hidden seven on fourth street), you want to raise aggressively to try and force other players to fold. In a heads-up situation, your middle pair may hold up for high, and you can still make the best low, whereas the likelihood of this happening greatly decreases the more players are left in the pot.
Once again, the most important thing to remember in a multi-way pot is to avoid getting into a situation where you are likely to have the second-best high AND the second-best low. Getting scooped is where the big dents in your bankroll come from, and the more you can avoid this scenario, the better off you will be. If there is a strong chance that you will be scooped, it is MUCH better to fold your hand on fourth street rather than continuing to put in bets until the end hoping to sneak away with half the pot. Save your money for times when the situation on fourth street makes it much more likely that YOU will be the one doing the scooping, and you will be a much more profitable 7 Card Stud High/Low Regular player.
PokerWorks Main Poker Variant Index: An Introduction to Poker Variants
The Main Index for Poker Variant Seven Card Stud High/Low.