Basic Play in 7 Card Stud

Many people think that Stud-7 is a complex game. This is partly true but also partly untrue because the game is very similar to hold’em because it is a seven card game in that respect. It is usually played with fewer players and seven is the normal table maximum in a stud game for obvious reasons because if seven players went all the way to the final card then that would mean 49 cards being dealt and so clearly eight players could potentially cause a huge problem.

In 7 Card Stud - Think Hold’em

You can get an awful long way in stud just by applying the principles of hold’em. I have read a lot of the really old theory books that have said that you should always play hands like 6-7-8 and three cards suited. This may be fine for limit play where you are nearly always getting pot odds but it clearly isn’t correct for pot limit stud where bets and raises are pot sized. Let us say that you are playing $0.50-$1.00 Stud with $100 stacks and somebody brings it in for a pot sized raise and it gets 3-bet by a playing showing K-x-x while the other player was showing Q-x-x.

If all you have is 6-7-8 then you have a clear fold. These hands need either to see a cheap flop or to have stacks far deeper than 100BB. This hand is akin to having a connector hand in hold’em where the first card on the flop is one that helps you to make a straight. Clearly you still have a long way to go to make that straight while your opponents are showing signs of having Q-Q and K-K. You have no fold equity either as if you have say 6 (7-8) then your opponents will not fear a four bet because they certainly will not believe that you have sixes wired.

No theory means profit potential

Many novice players get involved in hands like these because there isn’t a lot of theory written on Stud. But if you are going to place too much money into the pot with drawing hands that basically need two cards to improve then you will not make any money playing seven stud. If the Q (? ?) hand raised to say 4Xbb and the K (? ?) called then the dynamic shifts if the stacks are deep and this hand plays similar to a hold’em hand. You are looking for implied odds and immediate improvement of a five or nine on fourth street which will leave you drawing to the potential best hand.

If you pair on fourth and the betting isn’t two heavy then you could peel another card but you are essentially drawing and only fools and novices chase draws with incorrect odds both expressed and implied. But you also have to remember that you are playing poker too of course. If you called a raise heads up with say 5-6-7 and the fourth and fifth streets brought consecutive nines then this is a great chance to semi-bluff. You have the equity of the gutshot and another nine while your opponent can see two huge exposed nines which could mean you have trips and a full house draw.