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5 Card Stud Starting Hands

Starting Hands and Hands to Avoid in Five Card Stud Poker

Five Card Stud is probably one of the easier games to grasp in terms of concept. Where you start pre-flop is a fairly good indication of where you’ll end come showdown. Obviously this can change, but your hole cards are a fairly good indicator of whether or not you should proceed with the hand. The advantage to playing Stud over Holdem or Omaha is it gives you an edge unlike any other - information. Your hole cards give you a pretty clear indication of where you are in comparison to others and by using position you’ll also have a good foundation to put your opponents on a hand.

Obviously if you’re dealt a pair your ahead already as most of the players at the table will be sitting with random cards or drawing for inside straight draws. Likewise the higher the pair the better, but if your holding small pockets it still may be worth seeing the next card as long as the hand is checked to you.

Information is key to playing any form of stud and your opponents cards will provide you with crucial information not available in any other form of poker where players have community cards. If your opponents exposed card is lower than your own card, it’s safe to assume that you probably have the best starting hand, especially if you’ve paired one of your cards.

Below you will find a few tips for starting hand requirements in five card stud along with some strategies on what to look for so you don’t get suckered. Five card stud boils down to whether or not you have the opportunity to better your hand, or what hand can represent to the table compared to that of your opponents.

Small Pairs – Try and use position and play these hands heads up. Fold if more than one opponent is in the hand, if there is a bet ahead of you or if you don’t complete a set within the first three cards.

Both Cards Higher Than the Board – Suppose you have 910 and none of the opponents upcards is higher than a 6.
Door Card  Beats the Board and Upcard – suppose you have a J down and 7 up and the highest upcard is 10 you’ll want to play this to the next street.

High DoorCard and UpCard – Sometimes having both a doorcard and upcard that are high can provide you with a slight advantage. Depending on the upcards of your opponents you may be able to play this hand through to third street without any problems ...even if unpaired.

In addition to starting with the best hand you should also understand the hands to avoid.

High pairs are excellent starting hands and you should fold low pairs if your hand hasn’t improved within the first three cards.

Remember to watch the other players. Often if the player is betting on a low upcard you can be pretty certain that player is playing his/her pair. Sure the possibility of a bluff is an option, but more times than not players choose not to bluff in five card simply because of the difficulty involved and low rate of success.

Don’t assume the player is trying to push you off the hand unless it’s clear they can beat you.

Don’t draw to flushes or straights. More hands in five card stud are won with pairs or sets. Don’t waste bets chasing the miracle.

Last but not least, keep your eye out for the player with the paired door card. Betting is usually a pretty good indicator that they could be hold a set.