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7 Card Stud Poker Strategy

Beginners Guide to Learning How to Play Stud Poker

7-card Stud is a game where players are dealt 7 cards, the first 2 cards are dealt face down, the next 4 are faced up, and 7th card is dealt face down. It sure seems like Stud would be an easy game to dominate especially since more than half of the cards dealt to a player are visible for everyone to see.

Well, hold on, it may seem easier to play and beat this game since many of the cards are exposed but it in fact can be more difficult than you think. Two of the first 3 cards dealt to players are faced down, making it impossible to have an idea of what a player may be entering the pot with and can only add to the mystery as players go to 4th and 5th street. Not to mention the fact that a player may be on an obvious draw only to have 7th street come faced down and you have no idea if he made his hand or not.

So, if Stud is a much harder game then what it looks, is it still possible to learn the game and be a good player? Well, sure it is. By following some of our key Stud Poker Tips, players should be able to get off to a great start playing Stud or Stud Hi/Lo.

Stud Poker Tips - Starting Hands, Door Cards, Folding, Slow Playing

Starting Hands: Starting hands are important in any poker game and this holds true for Stud as well. Ideal starting hands in Stud would include trips, 3 high face cards to a straight preferably suited and high pairs with a good kicker. The thing that players need to keep in mind when choosing a starting hand is, how many hands can I make with these 3 cards? If the 3 cards you are holding can make a flush or straight, they may be worth playing.

However, if you have 3 cards to a straight or flush and notice that your opponent's up cards consist of the outs that you need to better your hand; all of a sudden, your hand is not worth nearly as much. Hands to avoid or play sparingly would include 3 cards of different suits that are unconnected, low pairs with poor kickers, or any other 3 cards that would need a lot to improve. 

In Hi/Lo games, players should try to avoid starting with three random low cards in hopes to split the pot unless they are connected. By shooting for the low pot only, players are going to have a negative expected value in the long run as it is possible to not only miss the low pot, but to potentially have to split it with another low pot and only receive 25% or less of their investment back.

Door Cards: Door cards are extremely important and need to be used in many ways especially when playing stud spread limit . The very first thing a player should do in Stud is look at all the other up cards to see how many outs they still have. This will give players an idea if their hand is strong and/or if they can draw to a strong hand. For example, if you have As-Kd-Qh and notice that all of your opponent's up cards consisted of J's and 10's, the chances of you hitting a straight are dramatically reduced. It may be possible to hit a pair, trips, or even hit runner-runner for the next four cards for a flush, but the possibility of hitting your hand or a miracle 4 card in a row flush is highly improbable.

Door cards can also be used to run bluffs if needed depending on the scenario and image that you have displayed at the table. If you have shown the table that you can fold an Ace in the door, then the times that you do raise with an Ace you will be respected more and will be able to take down more pots uncontested.

Learn to Fold: While it may be difficult to fold some hands, it is imperative that you learn when to fold. While some hands may be obvious such as you are holding a low pair and they have a higher pair showing, other times it will not be so obvious. There may be a time where folding a 3 of a kind is the right thing to do if you have yet to fill up to a boat against a potential flush. Also, keep in mind that full houses are more common than in other poker games.

Always fold if you feel that you are beat or it is of course obvious that you are beat. Stud is generally played in a fixed limit format making it a long process to build your stack back up.

Slow Play Carefully: Obviously, if you have a pair of Aces hidden with a good kicker or even 3 of a kind for that matter it may seem like a good idea to slow play your hand in hopes to make more money. And it can be, if the conditions are right. If it seems like other players are trying to draw to straights or flushes then this can be a dangerous maneuver and unless you fill up by 7th street, it can be a devastating beat. Be sure to slow play sparingly and with caution.

Pay Attention: While this may seem obvious, Stud can be a slow and slightly boring game to play even if you are a part of the hand. But it is very important to pay attention to how other players play each street and especially pay attention to each card that is dealt. These cards will tell you how many outs you have as well as the potential holdings of your opponents.

While these tips above do not cover every scenario a player will face, it will sure get them up to speed on some of the do's and don'ts of Stud Poker. By playing decent starting hands, paying attention, and knowing when to fold when a player is beaten, many players should do much better than your average Stud Poker player.