While becoming a top-flight poker player involves developing many skills and strategies that will keep your opponents off-balance and confused about your play, possibly the most important thing you can do as a beginning player is to learn to cut down on, and as much as possible, eliminate the most common errors that inexperienced players make.
This article will focus on the top five beginner mistakes usually made in 7 Card Stud High/Low Regular. Avoid these, and you will be well on your way to being consistently profitable at this game.
1) Playing “high-only” hands- While a hidden pair of kings is a great starting hand in 7 Card Stud High, and can also be played in High/Low Stud 8, (where someone needs a qualifying low to win that half of the pot), it is an almost useless hand in 7 Card Stud High/Low Regular. This is because it has almost no chance of developing into a low hand, and is therefore forfeiting at least half the pot almost all the time. While it may be tempting to play this type of hand, you will save a tremendous amount of money in this game by just throwing it away. The money you occasionally make by splitting the pot in a multi-way situation will in no way compensate for your losses when your high hand doesn’t hold up and you get scooped.
2) Playing two low cards and a “brick” (a non-matching third card like a face card)- Many beginning players, especially if they have the best low card showing, will play this type of hand, hoping to be able to push everyone out of the pot if their board continues to look strong. This is a huge mistake. Having even one bad card in your hand greatly reduces your chances of completing a hand before you run out of cards. When you are dealt a hand like this, fold it and move on to something more worthy of betting. What will happen most often with this type of hand is that one or two other players will stay in, and you will be forced to fold when you miss on either fourth or fifth streets. For the very rare times that this play works, there will be at least five times as many hands where you will just be throwing your money away.
3) Chasing a hand when you hit a bad card- For the most part, it is a very bad idea to continue in a hand of 7 Card Stud High/Low Regular when you are dealt a bad fourth card. As stated above, every bad card reduces the odds of you completing your hand, and to make matters even worse, the betting limits double on the next card. The obvious exception to this rule is when your opponents also miss, and when your hand is clearly still leading in at least one direction. For example, you are dealt 3-5-6 and a 9 comes on fourth street. While you are not happy with this card, if none of your opponents has a board as low as your 9-6, you can certainly stay and draw further, since you are ahead for low and still quite alive to draw to your high as well.
4) Bluffing a low hand- If you are playing 7 Card Stud High/Low Regular with a “declaration” round (where each player has to signify which side of the pot he is playing for before the showdown) you can often parlay a strong-looking low board into half the pot by frightening the other players away from going against you. However, this can be a disastrous play in “cards-speak”, (where whomever has the best hand wins), regardless of what his/her board appears to be. Trying to bluff a low hand with a good-looking board that actually has something like two low pair and a face card can easily lead to being scooped by two higher pair and a 10-low. Once again, remember that SOMEONE is going to win the low half of the pot. If that someone is not you, you need to make sure that you have a very strong high hand to justify still being in the hand as it approaches the showdown.
5) Misreading the board- The beauty of any 7 Card Stud game is just how much information you can obtain by following the cards that are dealt face-up to each player. If you are going to play any of these variations, you need to become adept at seeing and remembering not only the cards of the players still in the hand, but also the ones that have already been folded. Frequently, you will find beginning 7 Card Stud High/Low Regular players continuing to try and hit hands for which they literally have no “outs” (cards that will complete their hands), because they have all already been dealt to other players. If you need a six to complete your straight, make certain that you know exactly how many sixes are still in the deck. If your opponent needs a specific card to beat you, be aware of whether or not it is possible for him to either have it or be dealt it. This is the single most important skill that any 7 Card Stud player needs to develop. If you continually leave yourself with only one or two outs to make a hand to either scoop or win half the pot, you will consistently lose at 7 Card Stud High/Low Regular. You need to also be aware of what your opponent’s board is saying about his hand. Many beginning players forget about flush possibilities when another player shows a board with two or three of one suit. Notice how many other cards of that suit are in other players’ hands before getting too aggressive with a straight when a possible flush is on the board.
Take the errors out of your game and start turning losses into profits at the 7 Card Stud High/Low Regular table.
PokerWorks Main Poker Variant Index: An Introduction to Poker Variants
The Main Index for Poker Variant Seven Card Stud High/Low.