Playing Flush Draws in Stud 8

December 22, 2008 by James in Stud 8 or Better Poker

One area of difficulty for many players in Stud 8 or Better is playing flush draws. Not all flush draws are created equal and in Stud 8 very few flush draws are really even worth playing at all. Let’s take a closer look at flush draws in this game.

First, get the idea out of your head about playing flush draws with high cards on a consistent basis. There are times where this may be a good play, but in many cases, this is a one way hand only. A player that gets three suited high cards may think they have a good hand, but in actuality they are looking at a one way hand. In regular stud, there would be added strength due to the high pair possibilities. The high pair possibilities don’t buy you as much due to the low straight and flush chances that can present themselves in this game. As a result, a high flush draw is a marginal at best proposition.

Clearly the best flush draw in Stud 8 would be three straight flush cards. This would be along the lines of 3-4-5 suited or even A-2-3 suited. Of course, the more outs you have for your straight, the stronger the hand. Even a 6-7-8 is playable in this case, but be careful to make sure that you improve to a potentially strong hand. If you are not drawing to a straight or a flush after 4th street, your hand becomes very marginal.

After a three cards straight flush, your best flushes are those that include an ace. The main reason behind this is the fact that you are drawing to an ace high flush if you hit your flush. If you pair your ace, you are also in decent shape to have or draw to the best high hand as well.

After flushes that have an ace, you want a three card seven or a three card six that are suited. With the three card seven, you are drawing to a decent low with your flush. With the three card six, you are drawing to a straight as well as the flush.

Be careful of playing three card suited eight that does not have an ace or that can complete to a flush. If you do not improve to a flush and improve to a low draw, your low draw will likely be 2nd best or worse. With a three card suited eight, in many cases you will dump this hand if you do not improve on 4th.

On final tip would be to abandon your hand on 4th street if you do not improve in some way. The main reason is that when you don’t improve on 4th, you must catch 66.7% of your remaining cards to make your hand. These are long odds and not worth drawing to.

Not all flush draws in Stud 8 are created equal. Knowing which draws to play will help you to increase your profits in cash games and help you pick up chips in tournaments. Good luck to you at the tables.


Identifying Low and Scoop Hands in Stud 8 or Better

September 19, 2008 by James in Stud 8 or Better Poker

Many players are familiar with how to play seven card stud, but get confused when trying to play stud 8 or better poker.  The concept of making a low hand and identifying a scooping hand sometimes is a difficult concept to grasp.  Today, we will review how to identify a low hand and also how to spot a two way scoop hand.

First, a low is a hand of five unique cards eight and below.  That means that you cannot have pairs of any type in your hand.  Also, aces play both high and low in stud 8.  For instance, if you hold Kc-2d-Ah-6s-8c-9s-7h, you have an eight low (8-7-6-2-A).  Another example would be 7h-2c-5d-As-10s-Js-6c.  This hand contains a seven low (7-6-5-2-A).  How about a hand such as 6c-6s-2d-Ad-3c-Kh-4s?  This hand contains a six low (6-4-3-2-A).  The hand had a pair of sixes but there were four other unique cards to make a low.  What if you held 8c-8s-8d-5c-4c-2h-Ks?  You do not have a low in this hand.  Yes, you have 6 cards in your hand eight and below, but only four of those cards are unique.

Now that we have gone over identifying low hands, let’s look at scoop potential hands.  What do you hold if you have 8c-2c-4s-Ad-Ah-8s-5c?  In this example you hold two pair and an eight low.  Aces and eights are your two pair with 8-5-4-2-A for your low.  How about 4c-4s-4d-3s-2d-Ah-6h?   This is a set of fours with a six low (6-4-3-2-A).   Now let’s look at 6c-7c-5d-Ks-4d-3h-Qs.  What do you hold here?  You have a seven high straight and a seven low.  2c-4c-8c-6c-Ac-Ks-Qs would give you a flush with an eight low.  Low straights and low flushes can play both ways.   What about 6c-7d-8h-9d-10h-As-2c?   If you said a ten high straight with an eight low, you are correct.  As you can see, you do not need to use the same five cards for both high and low.  Also remember, if you have a high hand only, that hand can still scoop a pot if no one makes a qualifying low.

Now that you have a few examples of how to spot low hands and how to spot scoop hands, let’s review a few things to keep in mind that will help you quickly identify a low.  First, if you have 3 cards in your hand higher than 9, you cannot make a low.  If you have a full house, you will not make a low.  Aces play both ways, so don’t get locked into thinking that aces are high only.  Finally, if you are uncertain as to whether or not you have a low, turn your hand over.  In casinos, cards speak.  This means that when you show your hand, you do not have to announce it.  The dealer can read the hand for you and award the pot accordingly.  Granted, this is a dead giveaway that you are a rank beginner in the game, but at the same time get help if you need it.

Once you get the hang of reading low hands, reading them will become second nature.  I recommend getting a deck of cards and dealing some hands out and taking your time to identify low hands and potential scoop hands.  Once you feel comfortable, get yourself into a game.  Good luck to you.


Common Mistakes by Beginner Stud 8 or Better Players

September 17, 2008 by James in Stud 8 or Better Poker

Players that are just learning to play Seven Card Stud 8 or Better tend to make a lot of mistakes while learning how to play the game properly.  I was no different than most players.  I took my own approach to playing the game until I was taught properly.  Today, lets look at a few mistakes beginning stud 8 or better players make.

The biggest mistake that most stud 8 poker players make is playing the game like stud high.  Playing hands such as pairs with big kickers, medium and high straights, and even high flush draws are all trap hands that will cost players money.  Some players will pick up a hand such as pocket queens or kings and then push them all the way to the river.

Another mistake players make is playing a lot of eight low draws.  Many players are confused as to why they shouldn’t play a lot of eight low draws.  They are of the mindset that if their opponent misses their draw, that their hand may be good.  This may be true, but you are relying more on luck in this scenario than on proper play.  There are times where you are going to chase down a hand with an eight low draw, but you need to stay away from playing every eight low draw that you come across.

Slow playing a rolled up set in stud 8 is a big mistake.  Stud high players are reading this with great confusion.  In stud high, you want to try and keep people in with your rolled up set as the hand is a very powerful starting hand.  In stud 8, rolled up sets are one way hands the majority of the time.  You want to play them fast to push out the mediocre hands and the weak low drawing hands.  A set is much more subsceptible to being outdrawn in stud 8 than in stud high.

Another mistake many players make is not paying attention to cards on the board when playing their hands.  When playing any stud game, you must keep track of the cards in other players hands.  This is more important in stud 8 than in other hands.  First you need to be able to determine which of your needed cards are potentially still available.  Next, you need to know what your other players are potentially drawing to.  When you know what is out there, you can make educated decision and calculated draws.  Otherwise, you are relegated to catching cards and gambling.

One mistake that almost every beginning player makes in stud 8 is trying to push players out when you hold the nuts.  When you have a hand where you have at least one side of the pot locked, you want to try and extract as many bets as possible.  Some players try to push players out in an attempt to win the pot right then.  That type of play will cost you bets.  When you have one side of the pot locked up, you need to do what you can to keep players in.


Beginner Stud Eight or Better Tips

Seven card stud eight or better is a popular split pot version of stud that is played in many casinos and in major tournament sets throughout the country. Many people that start playing this game try to approach the game like seven card stud and end up with big losses at the table. This article will introduce you to Stud eight or better and give you some beginning tips to help speed your learning curve.

The rules for stud eight or better are almost identical to regular stud. The low card is still the bring-in on third, and the high hand opens the betting on all subsequent streets. The main difference in the two games is the low element of the game. A player can win half the pot if they hold a five card hand with five unique cards eight and below. This is known as a low. An ace can play high or low. Straights and flushes do not affect a low hand. The best low hand is the wheel. (A-2-3-4-5) If more than one player holds a low, then the best low hand wins the pot. For example, a 3-4-5-6-7 is lower than an A-2-3-4-8. The first player holds a 7 low and the other player has an eight low. In the event one player has both the best high hand and the best low hand, the player scoops the entire pot. The same thing occurs when no player hold a low.

The object of stud eight or better is to scoop pots. In order to do that, you need to start with hands that give you the best opportunity to scoop a hand. Starting hands in stud eight are much different than regular stud. First, as a beginning player, you need to stay away from almost all pair, including buried pairs with the exception of aces and occasionally kings. King are to be played very sparingly and I personally recommend not playing them against a raising ace.

Any pair from nines to kings are one way trap hands. You need to stay away from them. Some people will recommend playing low pair when you play stud eight. While learning the game, I recommend staying away from them. Playing low pairs is tricky and can be a losing proposition if you are still learning the game. Big straight draws and big flush draws should be avoided. Many regular stud players have a hard time getting away from these types of hands when first learning stud eight. I was the exact same way. In regular stud, big straight and big flush draws are potentially powerful hands. In stud eight, they are trap hands. At best you are drawing to half the pot.

Ideally you want to start with a three card low hand that is coordinated in some way. A low three card straight hand or a low three card flush hand are very powerful starting hands. Even gutshot low straights are decent starting hands. After low three card straights and low three card flushes, you want three low cards with an ace. Examples are 6-3-A, 7-2-A, and 7-3-A. As mentioned earlier, the only pair that you really should play safely is aces. Ideally, you will want a low card as a kicker with your aces. That way you have a chance to draw at a low. Another advantage is that if you start with aces and a low kicker and you pair your kicker, not many people are going to put you on two pair. Chances are they are going to put you on low and you can pick up some pots when a player playing a bad pair or a weaker two pair calls you down.

Let’s talk about eight low draws. Eight low draws are very tricky to play. You can play them profitably, but you must be careful. The best eight low draw to play is a three card straight or three card flush. These are relatively safe to play. Otherwise, playing an eight low can be costly, even an 8-2-A. Any 7 or better low beats you, and even a better eight low. This is one spot where position can actually help you in stud eight. If you are in late position against either just the bring in, or against high cards, then you can play the eight low draw. If other low cards come in the pot before you, you would be wise to fold all eight low draws other than three card low straights and flushes.

Let’s talk about playing rolled up sets for a minute. You may wonder why I mention playing sets as they seem pretty simple to play. Actually, you will want to play any rolled up set fast in stud eight, especially a high set. Most stud players will slow play a rolled up set in regular stud, and would be right to do so. In stud eight, this is a mistake. First, this is a one way hand only in most cases. You will not be able to take low. While you will start with the best hand, unless you improve to a full house, you hand can be outdrawn by a low straight or flush. Also, if you let a lot of low cards in, you are almost certain to chop the pot. Playing the hand fast will likely force some of the low draws out and give you better odds.

The next tip is the most important tip I can give you as a stud eight or better player. If you do not improve on fourth street, abandon the hand unless it is checked to you. When you miss on fourth street, you must catch two out of the remaining three cards in order to make a hand. While possible, you are drawing at long odds to catch your hand at this point. If your hand improves to a four low on fourth, you are almost even money to make your low. The rule of thumb that I used as a beginning player was that either I had to improve to a four low, a four flush, or catch a pair of aces on fourth in order to continue in the hand. In most other cases, I abandoned the hand.

Stud eight or better is a complex but profitable game for those that start off playing a solid game. You will find that many players that play this game really don’t grasp many of the concepts covered in this article. As a result, you may find most low limit stud eight games to be very profitable. With the above tips and practice, you should have the tools needed to become a solid stud eight player in short order. Good luck, and see you at the tables.


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