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Winning Strategies for Online Poker Players: Seven Card Stud

One of the best-known poker games in the world, Seven Card Stud is a highly strategic game that requires varying levels of skill, discipline and patience to be successful. Mastery involves proficiency with many poker skills including the ability to accurately read opponents, assess the hand, and play both aggressive and controlled.

Because so many new poker players have been enthralled by the Hold ‘em games, the latest generation of players aren’t always readily familiar with this card game. So before launching in to the basic rules and structure of the game, it might be helpful to offer a quick comparison between the two poker giants.

As you can see, there are quite a few differences between the two game structures, and players with only a limited familiarity of poker games would be well advised to learn at least the rules and basic game strategy before trying Seven Card Stud.

General Rules and Structure for Seven Card Stud
Prior to the start of the game, all players must post an ante based on the table structure. Each player is then dealt two cards facedown (hole cards) and a third exposed card. The player with the lowest value exposed card is the “bring-in” a forced wager (similar to the blinds in Hold ‘em) that is equal to either half the value of the small bet or a full valued small bet. For example, in a $2/4 game, the “bring-in” could be either $1 or $2. Action then continues clockwise around the table until all betting is complete.

Following betting, each player receives another exposed card, called “Fourth Street.” The player whose exposed cards have the highest poker value is the first to act, and he may either check or bet. Action then continues clockwise.

Once all players have acted, another exposed card is dealt, called “Fifth Street.” As before, the first to act is the player whose exposed cards have the highest value. All subsequent actions continue clockwise around the table. At this point in the game, all bets now shift from low value increments to the higher table stakes ($4 in a $2/$4 game.)

After the betting round, each remaining player receives another exposed card, “Sixth Street,” and the player with the highest exposed poker hand is the first to act. After all action is complete, a seventh card is dealt, this time face down. Betting begins with the player holding the best exposed poker hand, and continues clockwise around the table to any remaining players. Once all action has been taken, the remaining players expose their hidden cards and the best five-card poker hand wins the pot. In the event any players have identical hands, the pot is equally divided between those players.

seven card stud

General Strategy
Although straights, flushes, and other power hands are important in poker, Seven Card Stud is a high card game where the majority of winning hands involving highest pair or two pair. As such, proper strategy in Seven Card Stud begins by being selective about your starting hands. For example, if you start with a flush or straight draw, you should have at least two high cards or a single high card that is higher than any opponent cards. Continued play is then only warranted if such drawing hands improve. Basic strategy also includes:

• Any time that your hand is beaten on the board, fold unless you have a strong draw
• Fold modest holdings
• Raise any premium hands to eliminate opposition early
• Slow play draw hands to increase pot odds
• Be aggressive on Third, Fourth and Fifth Street to follow through with earlier betting and protect your hand
• Always be aware of the upcards to know if key cards are gone
• Don’t draw to hands likely to yield second-best, such as calling an opponent who raises with an Ace while you’re holding 3-3 Q.

These suggestions only broadly cover the very basic strategy for this game and should serve as a quick reference only.

Seven Card Stud Starting Hands
It’s crucial in Seven Card Stud that when selecting your starting hands, you determine whether or not your hand is live—that is, the cards that can complete your hand are still available. Barring that, below is a list of the premium cards that you should look for when beginning a hand.

Tips for Online Players
Internet Seven Card Stud players often act and re-act differently than they do in the flesh. Below are some helpful tips for surviving at the virtual tables.

• Be selective, but work their impatience. Many online player enter into far too many hands than they should; some because they’re bored, others because they’re doing other things, and not concentrating on the game. Be selective about your own hands, but aggressively attack the weaker players that get involved too often.

• Slow play the right hands. Starting hands like trips (three of a kind) should be slowplayed until fifth street to keep weak players involved against such a powerful hand. Similarly, starting hands like three cards to a straight or flush should also be worked to build the pot odds.

• Study your opponents. Always pay close attention to the action, even when you’re not involved in a hand. Don’t watch television, peruse other sites, or talk on the phone. Watch how your opponents act and re-act during every hand. How often do they bluff? Are they just looking for excuses to play a hand? Make notes about everything they do and use it to your advantage.

• Let them see you bluff. Like in other forms of poker, it’s important in Seven Card Stud that occasionally your opponents see that you’re capable of bluffing. This keeps them guessing about your play, and can lead to bigger pots.

• Keep track of the cards played. Keep notes about the cards you’ve seen in the hand as the hand progresses. By watching the board closely—and writing everything down—you can get a good about your chances for making a good hand.

Seven Card Stud is a fun, yet difficult, poker variant that requires players to master a wide range of skills that they might not have to worry about in other games. If to this point your game has been of the Hold ‘em class, you’ll definitely want to spend some more time studying the game, and practicing in some low limit or free games.

Winning Strategies – Seven Card Stud.

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