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Stud Spread Limit Poker Strategy

Stealing Antes, Starting Hands, and Calling Hands in Stud Spread Limit

Although fewer games are available, Stud is still played in its spread limit format. This is different from its fixed limit and pot limit cousins since spread limit has a range of bets that can be made verses the normal small bet that is made on 3rd and 4th street and big bet that is made on 5th through 7th street in fixed or pot limit stud. For example, in a $1/$3 spread limit game, players have to bet the minimum which is $1 up to the maximum which is $3. The rest of the game is played the same.

Although the game structure for spread limit is the same as other stud based games, the way that it is played in terms of fundamentals and strategy is actually quite different. What we have done below is list some of the different strategies that can be implemented when playing spread limit stud and how it may differ from playing fixed or pot limit 7-card.

Stud Spread Limit Strategy

Stealing Antes in Spread Limit: Stealing antes in spread limit games is virtually pointless. The reason being is that the forced bet is generally the minimum with raises, if any one chooses to, being the minimum as well. To put this into perspective, if the spread was $1 to $3, the minimum in the pot is $1. To even try to pick off the pot a player would have to raise it a minimum of a dollar which besides being too high of a risk for a low return, it will more than likely be called as the pot odds will start increasing.

This is different from fixed limit stud where there is no choice in the amount a player bets. It is either the small bet on 3rd or 4th street or the big bet on 5th through 7th street. There will be more money in the pot from the antes to try to steal all the while still betting enough to discourage any kind of mediocre draws.

Starting Hands in Spread Limit Games: In a spread limit game, players can be a bit more relaxed when choosing their starting hand. This is because the low betting amounts create better odds justifying weaker holdings to call and chase draws. So instead of having everything suited and connected, players can play hands that have gaps such as 10-K-9 or similar. Often it may be worthwhile to chase theses kinds of draws.

On later streets, this will not change much. In fact, the odds may actually be better on later streets since players can still bet as low as $1 in pots that can have as much as $10 to $20 making odds fantastic for chasing hands. The important thing to keep in mind here is that although chasing hands is very cheap, it is necessary to only do so when you are drawing to the nuts or relatively close to it.

This is of course different from fixed limit Stud because players will most times not get nearly the lucrative odds to call with less than par starting hands. If the minimum bet is $10 in a $10/$20 game, players will be lucky to see odds any better than 4 to 1 or 5 to 1 in most cases. The same can be said on 5th through 7th street when the betting doubles. The times will be slim if at all, that a player can justify chasing a runner-runner for a flush or straight where as in a spread limit game it is actually the norm.  

Calling Hands on 7th Street: Most times in Stud, it is in your best interest to fold a hand on 6th or 7th street if you are pretty sure that you are beat. Since it is much more difficult to build a stack in Stud games, each small or big bet really counts in your success. Well, they do as well in spread limit games except that on 6th or 7th street the odds are so good that it is actually mathematically correct to call. Even if you are not sure, a $3 bet into a $20 or $30 pot makes it worthwhile to call, as you will win enough to cover the times that you lose. And of course, this is different in Stud because like we mentioned above, each bet counts and the odds in most scenarios are just not good enough to make a call if you feel as if you are only '2nd' best.

Aggression: This is probably the biggest difference between spread limit and fixed limit games. Generally, in Stud if you have a hand you bet it and raise it to build the pot up all the while trying to discourage draws. This way the maximum value is being extracted for your hand and you are inducing mistakes from your opponent.
In spread limit games this makes no sense because the amounts that are betted in comparison to the pot allows players to correctly make calls most times.

Spread Limit Stud

What spread limit Stud players will find is that as we mentioned frequently above, the game is solely dictated most times by odds which are influenced by the relaxed betting rounds. This of course affects players as they can start with mediocre hands and be mathematically correct in chasing their draws. In terms of strategy, a player needs to realize that it will be difficult to bet enough to scare anyone out of the hand so instead of wasting money trying to do so, it is important to play a bit more passively. When combined with a less than par starting hand selection and the ability to let hands go on 4th or 5th street when they know they are beat, many players can do very well in spread limit Stud.