7 Card Stud is a classic poker game played in just about every land-based and online poker room. If you want to become a winning 7 Card Stud players, you’ll need to develop a solid 7 Card Stud strategy.
A good 7 Card Stud strategy is made up of many different elements that come together into a winning poker game, but it can be overwhelming, to say the least, to try to adapt all of these elements at once. For this reason, we’re providing a 3-part 7 Card Stud strategy guide that ranges from beginner strategies, to intermediate, to the most advanced levels of strategic poker play.
Seven Card Stud Beginner Strategy
In this first section we’ll go over some of the basic requirements of a good 7 Card Stud strategy. These will include the importance of starting hand selection, the value of Door Cards, and the emotional aspect of the game. Patience and discipline is essential to any good poker strategy.
You should already know all about what makes good seven card stud starting hands. Stating hand selection is crucial, as it makes for the optimal poker game – one that reduces chip loss and maximizes profit at the table. If you starting hand is not good to begin with, you can’t honestly expect it to get a lot better as the streets go on. Yes, you might get lucky, but the odds are against you. Fold a junk hand and conserve your chip stack for a better opportunity.
The Door Card
The Door Card is the single face-up card given to each player in the initial deal. This card can make or break your hand; sometimes, regardless of your hole cards.
When you have an excellent Door Card, especially an Ace, and no other player has a Door Card higher than 9, this puts you in an excellent position to scare others away from the pot. From late position, your hole cards may not even matter. From early position, however, a straight bluff is not recommended.
In reverse, having a terrible Door Card can work to your advantage as well, but only if your hole cards are very strong. Pocket Aces or Kings, high suited connectors, these kinds of hole cards are worth moving on with if you have a low Door Card since it will help you draw more chips into the pot. Others will consider you weak, therefore may stay in the hand with marginal holdings simply because they think they’ve got you beat.
Patience & Discipline
The ability to maintain patience and discipline at the table is essential to a winning poker strategy. If you let yourself become frustrated, your game play will suffer, and your opponents will be able to tell, giving them the open door to take advantage of such a weakness. You need the patience to wait for good starting hands and the discipline to stay calm, no matter how long it takes to get that premium starter.
Seven Card Stud Intermediate Strategy
There is a lot involved in a strong, winning 7 Card Stud strategy. Applying the three levels one at a time allows for the practice and memorization of each levels without it being to overwhelming to the player.
In the previous section, we covered the topics of patience and discipline, the importance of starting hand selection and the value of door cards.
Next we’ll go more into topics such as knowing when to increase the stakes, using all open cards to your advantage, and proper street betting techniques.
A player should never increase the stakes he or she is playing until the time is right. Doing so will result in a sudden and substantial loss of chips at least 98% of the time. So how do you know when to up the stakes ?
You’ll know the time is right when you are seeing consistently profitable success at the poker tables in your current stake level. If you’re barely above breaking even, you’re not ready. It is also very important to increase to the very next level, rather than jumping several levels at once. If you’re playing $.50/$1, up it to $1/$2, not $5/$10. Every level comes with stiffer competition. You’ll want to hit one level at a time to make sure you can withstand the tighter action.
If you increase the stakes by one level and find yourself losing too many chips, don’t be afraid to drop back to the previous level. Keep practising at this stage and rebuild your bankroll before trying the higher level again.
Reading Open Cards
Open Card are all of the face-up cards on the board; your own and everyone else’s. By paying close attention to these cards, you can determine exactly how many Outs you have, how many Outs others have, and essentially the odds of improving your hand. You can save a lot of chips by realizing early on that you’re not likely to improve your hand enough to beat the next guy.
Folded hands are important as well. If a player folds after the 4th Street, there’s two open cards there you should have memorized. This isn’t the easiest thing to do when you first start practising, but it becomes much easier over time.
Knowing when to call, bet, raise or fold will decrease your losses and maximize your profits exponentially. We can’t tell you with exact accuracy what to do in every situation, but we can provide with the knowledge and mental tools to figure it out for yourself.
By reading the board, counting your Outs, and determining the likelihood of betting your hand, you can make an educated decision on whether to invest, and if so, how much.
Let’s say you have a Flush and Outside Straight Draw that need either a Heart for the Flush, or a 6 or J for the Straight. Without observing the board, we can say that you have 9 outs for the Flush and 8 Outs for the Straight, for a total of 17 Outs. Now, observe the board. Are there any Hearts, 6s or Jacks showing? Were there any folded prior to this point? If two Hearts were folded, two Hearts are showing, one 6 is showing and two Jacks showing, your Outs drop to 10. Now, if you don’t get any of those Outs, how strong will your hand be ? If it is weaker than another open hand, fold. If it is stronger than any open hand, check or call a low bet.
No matter what street you are on, your hand should be better than the open hands showing, with reasonable potential to improve beyond the best possible hand around you. By this, we mean not just the open cards, but the best cards they could have hidden.
If you determine you have the Nuts, either bet low to keep drawing chips into the pot, or bet high if you think you’ll get at least one caller.
If you have a marginal hand, either place a bet you are sure will steal the pot, stick to low bets on a Draw, or simply fold and conserve your chips for a better opportunity.
Seven Card Stud Advanced Strategy
This is final section we’ll be talking about three key ways to play upon weaknesses and strengths, including playing your position, playing your opponents, and using deception to play on emotions.
Playing your Position
Your betting position on the felt has a great effect on the value of your hand. You could be dealt what is normally a great starting hand, but in early position, it becomes weak. Conversely, you could be dealt a marginal starting hand, but from late position, it increases in value.
Late position is the best place to be. You are afforded the opportunity to observe the actions and behaviour of most players before deciding whether or not to invest in the pot. If you have a great hand, and others are betting early, you can choose to call and keep the pot growing, or raise and try to take the pot down early. If no other players are showing much confidence, even with a marginal hand, you can raise to steal the blinds.
Early position is dangerous because you are up against the late position bettors who have the opportunity above. Only make a move if you have a great hand, one that is strong enough to be worth the hefty raise you may have to call to play it. Otherwise, fold early and save your chips for a better hand.
Playing your Opponents
By now, you should realize poker is not just a game of cards, but a game of deep strategy. Psychology plays a strong role in the success of seasoned poker players. You don’t need a degree, just a keen knack for observation. Luckily, this is something that can be acquired over time, just by keeping mental notes of your opponents behaviour.
Watch for betting patterns in relation to hand strength and position. Do they always raise in late position ? Try calling their bluff. Do they play a tight game, only making a move with premium holdings ? Beware their high bets/raises. Do they see most flops? They are playing loose and investing chips even with marginal holdings – call with a good hand and take them to the showdown.
Watch for emotional and nervous habits as well. If you’re playing live poker, these are easier to detect. Eyebrow movements, touching or scratching the face, fingers through the hair, these are all famous poker tells. When you see such actions, find out what kind of hand he is holding. He is either nervous betting on a bad hand or a monster hand. Are they betting immediately, or taking time to think about their actions. Again, see what kind of hand they end up with. Once you can key in on their behaviour, you can predict their upcoming reactions, as well as their holdings.
Practice this technique by focusing on a single player. Try predicting whether he will check, call, bet or fold according to his previous habits and hand strengths. When you can successfully predict him, exploit his weakness while you begin focusing on another player. Pretty soon, you’ll discover most players fall into categories, making it easy to read an entire table within a few hands of play.
Playing on Emotions
If you want to play on the emotions of your opponents, keeping them frustrated and guessing at every turn, do not let yourself be a pattern bettor. The section above describes how to read your opponents, and you can bet your last chip they are trying to read you in the same manner. Change things up. Don’t always raise in late position, don’t always slow play a monster hand, switch from tight to loose play intermittently and they’ll never be able to figure you out.