Playing Rolled Up Sets in Stud

November 7, 2008 by James in Seven Card Poker Tips

When you look down to see a rolled up set in Stud poker, many times you want to jump out of your seat. You have picked up the best possible starting hand in Stud. Now, how do you play it? It all depends on the situation. Let’s take a look at how to play rolled up sets in Stud and Stud 8 or Better.

First, in regular Stud, when you get a rolled up set, this is a really good time for a slow play, especially if you are at a tight table. If you are at a tight table, you want to keep players in to try and maximize your value. You will want to consider smooth calling your set on Third Street to try and keep some players in. If your game is somewhat loose, you can consider raising back, but only if you think that it won’t raise warning flags and cause everyone to fold.

One thing to note in Stud high is that if your set is small, then you gain some deception value. If you were to raise or call with a small card showing, then likely your opponents are going to put you on a hand such as a big pair or a small pair hoping to catch lucky.

Once you proceed to Fourth Street, how you play will depend on what everyone catches. If your opponent pairs his door card, then there is a chance they now have a set. If their potential set is higher than yours, it is time to go into defensive mode. Slow down a bit and see what unfolds.

Next, what if you catch the case card? Now you have quads. What do you do? If you check, then chances are everyone else will check as they will think you are trying to slow play a set. I would bet here in most any case except for when another player pairs their door card. If someone pairs their door card, I am going to check to pretend like I am scared of their pair or set. Many times this will induce a bet. When that happens, I will continue the slow play until Fifth Street. Other than when someone has a pair on board, if you bet out with a pair, you are only going to get called by someone that has either made two pair, a set of their own, or if they have a big draw. That is assuming your players are good players.

Once your reach Fifth Street, being able to place your opponents on hands is key to what type of action you will make. If you still only have a set, what are your opponents holding and / or drawing to? If it looks like they might be still drawing, try and bet to force them out. If they look to have a made hand like two pair, bet into them to punish them. If it is possible that they have a made hand and you have not improved your hand, you may want to check and call down bets from them if they bet. If you have improved to a full house or quads, at this point, bet out unless their board is such where a check will induce a bet.

The same things apply to Sixth Street as Fifth Street, but if you have not improved your set, you need to pay careful attention to what is out there. Continue to jam the pot when necessary and just check and call when appropriate. When we reach Seventh Street, if I think I am leading going into seventh, I will usually be dark. Sometimes I will check my card to see if I have improved if the other person looks to have a big draw or a similar big hand. If I bet out and am raised, I will reraise if I have improved and only call when I have not. I will not fold in any case here as the pot is too big to fold. If I only have a set and they have outdrawn me, then very well, I have gotten unlucky. However, if they have caught two pair, a lower set, or if they have caught a made hand and I have a full house or quad, then I will take a big pot.

In Stud 8 or Better, things are a little different. Because there are possibilities for split pots and in many cases, you will be going high only, you want to push your set from the start. If your door card is higher than an eight, a really astute player may put you on a set, but many weaker players will figure you have a big pair. Of course, this will encourage the low draws to come into the pot.

In Stud 8, you need to be more careful of low straights and flushes. You really want your hand to improve to a full house or better when you play Stud 8 and start with a set. Don’t get cute if you get a low set and try and slow play it because you will look like you are going low. Play it fast just like you have a big low. That will be enough for deception. If you happen to catch a card or two that makes it look like your low has improved, then you can force them out the pot. Otherwise, if you slow play, you might slow play yourself into a losing hand.

When you start with a set in Stud, you are a huge favorite. A majority of the time you will win with the hand. You won’t start with a rolled up set that often, so when you do, take advantage of the situation and put yourself in the best chance to win. Good luck to you at the tables.


Keeping Track of Cards In Stud

October 21, 2008 by James in Seven Card Poker Tips

Many beginning stud players do not pay enough attention to the cards in other player’s hands. While a lot of learning the game involved being able to determine what hands to play and how to play them, you need to be able to keep track which cards are out and how this affects not only your hand, but everyone else’s hand as well. In order to do this, you need to find a way to be able to track the cards of the other players. Many players find difficulty in doing this because the task can seem daunting. Let’s go over a couple of things you need to do to improve you card memorization.

First, you need to know what cards are needed to improve your own hand. Let’s say you start with a J-10-9 unsuited. Suited cards right now are of little consequence. You know you need Q or an 8 to work towards your straight. You also need to consider the kings and sevens that are out. Then you need to consider the J’s, 10’s, and 9’s out. If you noticed, I mentioned what you will need to consider in the order of importance. Next look around. Next, I like to incorporate a point counting system to determine to stay in the hand to chase the straight. The card on either side of my 3 card straight is worth 1 point, and the secondary cards are ½ point. In our example the queens and eights are 1 point each and the kings and 7’s are half points. If you look around and come up with more than 2 points worth of cards, then you need to get out. If you don’t, then you need to commit to memory how many of your cards are out.

At this point card memorization becomes easy. Let’s say that players 2,4,7, and 8 fold and the other three stay in the hand. How many cards do you need to memorize at this point? The answer is four. Why do you need to memorize the other player’s cards? They are right there in front of you. I know this sounds simplistic, but many people don’t see the forest for the trees. As the hand progresses, at this point you need to pay attention to what the plays start to fold and try and commit those cards to memory.

Now there may be times to where committing a folding player’s cards to memory is next to irrelevant. For example, if you are against two opponents and one is holding K-10-J, what purpose does memorizing a folding player’s 4-6-2 serve? None. If the cards that are being folded are not relevant to the rest of the hand, then don’t worry about them. Granted, if the same example was related to Stud 8, then you would need to commit those cards to memory as the low cards take away outs from lows.

The point of card memorization is to start out memorizing all cards that are folded and then memorize those that are important to the hand. This will help you in the early going while you are mastering this skill.


Stealing Antes in Stud Tournaments

October 10, 2008 by James in Seven Card Poker Tips

In Stud tournaments, stealing antes later in a tournament becomes a necessity. Many players tend to play their hands very tight, waiting for pairs or strong drawing cards. Recognizing spots where you can steal antes will help you build chips or at least stay ahead of the antes in stud tournaments.

First, you need to identify the targets at the table that will give up their hand to raises. Early in a Stud tournament, I tend to be one of these targets. There is little sense in playing poor hands or weak starting hands to raises early in the event. The antes and betting levels are just too low to put chips at risk. The catch with this type of thinking is that some players do not know how to change gears later in tournaments. They continue to wait, and these players are ones you can make raises into.

Pay attention to your position relative to the bring-in. Many hands later in a tournament will be heads-up and if you are in later position, you can make a raise into the bring-in. It is very hard for a 2,3, or 4 to make a call unless they have something strong in the hole.

Play your big cards strong late in a tournament. If you have the high card on the board, feel free to complete the bet a little more often. There are many instances where you will take the pot down right there. When someone calls, pay close attention to their play, and if they raise back, you must then make a decision whether you want to chase with a bluff or give it up.

Beware the rocks! If a rock is still in the tournament late, chances are they are getting low on chips unless they have gotten very good cards. They will likely only commit their chips with strong starting hands. Unless you have the chips to gamble with, I would only follow a rock into the pot with another strong hand.

If you are a short stack, pick a spot to be aggressive in. This past July, I was in a Stud 8 tournament approaching the money as the 2nd or 3rd shortest stack in the room and the shortest stack at my table. I was showing a King up against the rest of the table and in around middle position. I completed the bet and everyone folded to me. I won the antes and the bring-in of another player. This would allow me to sit back and try and find another hand. I actually chopped a couple of pots later on and made the money of the event. That one spot where I was able to steal a pot allowed me to pick up enough chips until I could find a better spot. Sometimes one pot in the right spot can make all the difference.

Next time you are getting deep in a stud tournament, remember some of the above examples. Stealing more blinds will help keep your stack ahead of the curve and hopefully help you reach the final table.


Playing Buried Pairs in Stud

October 8, 2008 by James in Seven Card Poker Tips

A buried pair is exactly what the named implies. It is a pair that is made by your two down cards in a Stud game. Many players get this type of hand and are unsure how to play it. Let’s talk a bit about playing buried pairs.

I play my hole cards a little different than a lot of players. Most players will wait until they get their entire hand before looking at their cards or they wait until it is their turn to act. Personally, I look at the first card as soon as it’s dealt and then do the same with the second. This allows me time to be able to look at everyone’s up cards as they come out. If you make a habit of looking in your cards in this way, it will be hard to put you on a hand.

First, let’s talk about buried small pairs up to nines. When you are dealt this type of buried pair, you are hoping for two things, you either want the bring-in or you want to be in later position so that you can be one of the last to act. Unless your door card is a high card, you are really looking for this hand to hit a set. The first thing you want to do is look and see if any of your cards are out. If so, then there is little sense in playing this hand any further unless you happen to have the high card showing or are in late position facing the bring-in. At this point, you would represent a pair of your door card.

If none of your cards are out, let’s consider your kicker. If your kicker is small, then you will likely want to limp along. Also, is anyone else holding your door card? If nobody else is, you may be able to take the pot on fourth if you pair your door card. Players will likely give you credit for a set and fold. If any of your door card is out, you are really wanting to hit your set now. If there is a raise, you will want to get out of the hand as you only have 2 outs for true improvement.

What do you do if you hit your set with your buried small pair? At this point, I will tend to bet out or even raise. Many players will figure you had a pair of your door card and that you hit a second pair. If you show an 8 and catch a four, they will likely call along. They may even raise if they have a big pair in the hopes to build the pot if they pair up one of their other cards. One you hit set with your buried pair, you best bet is to push the action until you have a reason to slow down.

Buried pairs 10 and above are a little trickier to play. Some people will just play their hand aggressively and raise, but if you are sitting at a table and a 6 completes or raises into other big cards, you are going to put them on a big pair, usually Aces. How I play my big pair will depend on my door card and the action ahead of me.

If there is a lot of action ahead of me from cards that are lower than my buried pair, I am going to raise. I am also going to do the same if my kicker is a high kicker, especially an Ace. I am going to represent that pair and try and push players out. If you raise someone with a low door card and then catch a king or ace, there is a good chance that they will fold. However, If you raise with an Ace or King with buried 10’s and catch a 10, you will likely get called down by another pair hoping to catch good.

If I limp into a pot with a big pair with a low door card and my door card pairs, then I am going to bet the hand. I am going to represent that I just hit a set and try to either take the pot there or punish players that feel like chasing me.

A mistake that I see a lot with people that play buried pairs comes from the bring-in. Some players will do a straight completion from the bring-in with a buried pair. This sort of play tells everyone that you have a big hand in the hole and in most cases, all you are going to win is the ante’s. Now if you are short stacked, this is a fine move as chances are you will be called by someone hoping to catch lucky. Otherwise, this is a mistake. A similar mistake is made by a bring-in that re-raise with a buried pair. With the exception of a late position raiser trying to steal the ante’s, this is usually a bad move as well. You are telegraphing your hand, and will cost yourself money.

Now, I would like to give you a word of caution, especially at lower limit Seven Card Stud. If you play a buried pair and hit your set, be careful of your opponent pairing their door card. If your opponent has a door card higher than your hole cards and pair’s up, in many cases you are behind to a higher set. At this point, slow down and just call down the opponent if they bet. Also, if you are playing a relatively tight player and then they start raising you after catching what seems a harmless card, they have likely hit a set with a buried pair. If the card they just caught is higher than yours, slow down.

Buried pairs can be tricky hands to play at times, but when they hit they are among some of the more profitable hands in Seven Card Stud. Good luck to you at the tables.


Beginner Tips for Seven Card Stud Poker

September 17, 2008 by James in Seven Card Poker Tips

Seven card stud is one of the oldest forms of poker played in casinos today and was the most popular game for many years before the increase in popularity of texas holdem. In many areas, especially Los Angeles and Atlantic City, you can still find Stud games at various levels. This article will cover some of the basics to learning seven card stud.

Seven card stud is normally played with a maximum of 8 players. Each player typically put in an ante before a hand is dealt. Each player is dealt three cards. Two cards are dealt face down and the third is dealt face up. The lowest card showing, also known as the door card, makes a forced bet known as a bring-in, which is equivalent to twice the ante in most cases. The player also has the option to make a completion bet. In most games, the bring-in bet does not equal the smallest bet option. For example, in a $3-$6 stud game with a 50 cent ante, the bring-in would be $1. A completion would be $3. If a completion bet is made then, normal limit betting applies; otherwise, players are only required to call the bring-in. After the deal, the next card, known as fourth street is dealt face up as well. In fact, fourth through sixth streets are all dealt face up. The player that is showing the highest hand is first to bet. On fifth street, the betting limits double. In the above example, fifth street forward would be bet in increments of $6. After action is completed on fifth and sixth streets, the river card is dealt face down to each player, followed by another round of betting. After the betting, the players show their hands. The player with the best five card hand wins the pot.

First, before we go into starting hands, let’s touch on the subject of tracking up cards. Unlike holdem and omaha, each play receives their own unique hand in stud. In addition, up to four cards may be exposed in any one player’s hand. Keeping track of up cards, both showing and folded, becomes of high importance. If you have an opponent that is showing a gutshot straight draw that needs a five, and you know that three of the fives have been folded, you know the player only has one out to catch his hand. This type of knowledge is crucial in being able to make decision as to whether to call, raise, or fold in a stud hand.

Position is less of a factor in Stud than in other forms of poker. The main reason is that position can potentially change with each flip of a card. The highest showing hand on each street determines the betting order. As you become more skilled in stud, there will be times that you may be able to use position on third street to your advantage, but as a beginner playing in low stakes stud games, position is next to irrelevant.

Let’s review starting hands for a moment. The best starting hand is a rolled up set, with three aces being the best starting set. Buried pairs are also really strong. As implied by the name, a buried pair is when your down cards for a pair and your door card is unrelated. The strength in this hand is in its deceptive nature. If you have a 3 showing and two tens in the hole, chances are high that you will get a lot of action when you catch a ten and bet out or even raise a bet made into you. A split pair occurs when your door card matches one of your down cards. This type of hand isn’t as easy to disguise and can kill action if you pair up your door card right away. Especially at low levels, when a player pairs their door card, they typically have made a set. A three card flush can either be a really strong hand or a trap hand. While learning, I would recommend playing three card flushes that either include an ace or have multiple high cards. This allows you the chance to improve your hand without having to catch a card of the same suit. Three card straight flush draws are the best type of flush draw to have, but I would play low straight flush draws very carefully. Unless you catch fortunate, a low flush draw can easily be outdrawn. Three card straights are tricky hands to play. Three running straight cards are the best type of straight draws to play, preferably with the straight running to the high side. Gutshot straight draws should be avoided while you’re learning stud.

Let’s look at starting hands a little deeper. As mentioned earlier, you want to keep a close eye on upcards in stud. This is extra important on deciding what hands to play. If you are dealt a high pair, such as kings and see another king and maybe one of your kickers out, then the odds are stacked against you to play the hand. The same holds true for straight and flush draws. When you start with the initial deal and you are dealt a flush draw, if more than two cards of your suit are showing, then you need to get out of the hand. The same holds true for a straight draw. Furthermore, if two or more of any single card needed to complete your straight draw is showing, you need to get out of the hand. You need to also take heed of the same things on future streets in the hand. Starting off on third with a flush draw and all cards of your suit are live is great, but if on the next street you don’t catch a fourth suited card and three other cards of your suit are showing, it’s time to fold.

Seven card stud is an old classic that is beginning to make a bit of a comeback due to mixed games like H.O.R.S.E. Unlike holdem, it is much more complex and requires greater focus and discipline while learning the game. The tips above should give you a great start in learning this classic game. Good luck to you at the tables.


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