Online Poker Strategy

December 7, 2010 by Dan in Stud Poker Strategy
Online Stud Poker Strategy

Online Stud Poker Strategy

Stud, like its name suggests is a real “mans’ game” where men are men and virgins are nervous (if you’ll excuse the comparison).

Seven Card Stud is strategy heavy game, involving plenty of skill and discipline it’s more tricky to analyze than Texas Holdem Poker because it has five betting rounds compared to Hold ‘em’s four.

To play and win stud poker online there are some basic rules, tips and tricks that should allow you to clear a tidy profit at the online table.

The first thing to remember is that Stud is a HIGH card game and (especially in Seven Card Stud) winning hands are often decided by the highest pair rather than by straights, flushes and the big hands you see in the movies.

With that in mind if you get dealt the start of a straight or flush, don’t get overly excited unless you have at least two high cards or one card that is higher than anything up on the board.
If you have a low pair as your starting hand, it has to improve or turn a high pair quickly to justify staying in the hand (you’ll still be “in game” if you fold, and you should use this down time to study the players still sitting in on the hand).

Now (what should be an obvious warning) as soon as you see your high hand beaten on the board, fold, repeat FOLD it’s unlikely that you’ll still have the best draw hand, unless say you have the nuts.

Play your early high hands FAST this could have you winning without improvement (and all these wins add up soon enough).

If you have good draw hands play em SLOW to draw in the other players, and let the pot swell.
Stud allows you to plump your bankroll by stealing the antes. A good excuse to bay (aka steal) the ante is when you get dealt a scare card (usually an Ace or a King) face up, which happens (odds say about 11% of the time) bet as if you’ve got the big pair and watch your opponent (hopefully) fold their hands against your “mighty” hole cards.
But beware; take the time to figure out the skill level of your opponents before you bluff. Bad players are often incapable of grasping the simple concept of the bluff, especially if they just don’t know whether or not they’re holding a decent hand.

Even the greats remember being beat by a rube who didn’t have the sense to get out before he rivered a winning hand against the odds.

The Gods of poker have a wicked sense of humour.

Next tip – become a card pathologist, that means know when your hand is alive and when it has “passed on”. Most pairs, straight draws, flush draws can e played when your cards are live (that means when there are still cards to dealt) know what you need to make that winning hand, know what cards are left out there, think about the odds and do the maths. As the great Dan Reed said, “You will show your poker greatness by the hands you fold, not the hands you play.”

Online Stud favours aggressive play but don’t play every hand as if you’ve been on the angry pills.


Learning a new game

January 31, 2010 by Dan in Seven Card Stud Poker

Once you feel like you have mastered a specific poker variant it can become quite tedious to play. Once complacency sets in boredom quickly follows and you can turn from a winning player into a losing one in no time at all.

A great way to keep your mind fresh and improve your overall poker skills is to learn a completely new variant. If you usually play online poker games like Hold’em or Omaha then a great game to look at would be Seven Card Stud.

Seven Card Stud is completely different from games like Hold’em and Omaha as there are no community cards on display. Instead you have to make your decisions based on the visible cards in your opponents’ hands. The first thing this will do is vastly improve your short-term memory because you will need to remember the cards folded in the previous betting rounds.

Your hand reading skills should also improve as you try to decipher the possible made hands and draws each of your opponents may have based on what you can see, their betting actions and the cards you know have already been folded. This in turn will aid your overall concentration and observation, two vital attributes for any winning poker player.

Once you have played enough hands you will almost certainly find your new skills come in handy when playing your usual game. Having the ability to play another form of poker is a great tool should you find yourself losing at your usual game. Instead of trying to chase your losses simply load up another game you know and give that a try instead.


Going for the low in 7 card stud hi/low

May 7, 2009 by Dan Brown in Seven Card Stud Poker

Let’s start this out by telling you that you should never be in a hand to solely go after the low side of the pot. You will see far too many people going head to head on 4th street with no chance of hitting the high hand and then end up splitting the pot if they get lucky. Even them, they still lose money because of the rake, it just does not make any sense.

The low in 7 card poker should be something that you happen to get, not the main focus of your hand. Realize that even if there are multiple players in the hand and you start out chasing the low, you still only may end up with a quarter of the pot or less. Plenty of people will play any hand that start with A2 and if you are looking at the same cards, you are going to split the split.

However, you can stay in a hand if you were going for a high and it falls apart on 6th street and you now only need one card to win the low. At this point, you only have one card left and the odds more than dictate you hanging around to capture some of the pot.

When you start your hand out, the only way you have a chance to scoop the pot is by going high and low. This is the ideal situation and one that you look for in starting quality hands. For instance, you start the hand with Ah2h4h. You are in huge position to scoop here. You have the A high flush draw and are also looking at a possible straight for the high. In addition, you are starting down at 3 to a low. This is not only a starting hand, but a raising hand.

The key to a good starting hand in hi/low is to have the ability to scoop the pot, which of course means that you get both the high and the low. While you may end up only getting the low as the hand plays out, you have to make sure that you start out with the intention of getting them both. If all you do is try and chase down low hands, you are going to find your bankroll continuing to shrink and you will eventually go broke.

This is what separates the good hi/low players from the bad ones. It may be a little tough to fold that 247 hand, but when you realize that you are conceding one half of the pot every time you play a hand like this, reality will start to settle in and you will realize how foolish it is to play a hand like this. Remember, if you don’t have a chance to scoop with the first three, the hand is not worth playing.


Raising With a Door Card Ace

January 21, 2009 by James in Seven Card Stud Poker

There are many players that debate how one should play hands with a door card ace. Some are of the school of thought that you should almost always raise with a door card ace, while others take the approach to raise if they are in late position. Let’s take a look at how you should play door card aces, especially if you are establishing table image.

The obvious time to raise with an ace is when you have a pair of aces. This put players at the table on notice that you are likely to have a pair of aces. If you are not raising with every ace, then you are more likely to get credit for the raise with an ace.

Other times to raise with an ace include when you are playing a three card flush or three big cards to a straight. When playing three cards to the straight or to the flush, improving by 4th street is ideal. When playing three big straight cards, catching a pair will many times put you solidly in the lead in the hand. If you do not improve to a four flush or a four straight by fifth street, you need to abandon the hand.

One time you may want to stay away from raising with an ace showing is when you are rolled up with aces. At this point, slow playing is an option you should consider. One argument against slow playing a set is letting players into the pot that can outdraw you. Trip aces on third is outdrawn so infrequently that in many cases, slow playing will get you the most money with the hand. Of course, if you are in a loose game where a raise is frequently called, then go with the raise.

Be careful when playing a split pair of aces against an open pair on fourth street. In stud, an open pair on fourth will turn out to be trips many times. Knowing this, there are also times, such as raising with three straight cards, you will catch a pair of aces on fourth and can take the pot down right there.

Be careful with raising with an ace and nothing for backup. After you establish your table image, you can sometimes raise with an ace and take the pot on third. If you are in a tournament you can get away with a raise on third with only an ace later in a tournament somewhat frequently, but in a cash game, doing this often can lead to a bleed on your chips.

By selectively raising with a door card ace, you will establish a tight image, and your raise will get more respect. Also, it will enable you to control the variance experienced by players that raise with any ace. Good luck to you at the tables.


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.


Age Stereotypes in Seven Card Stud Poker – Part 2

September 20, 2008 by James in Seven Card Stud Poker

Yesterday I started off talking about age stereotypes in stud. I started a story about a stud game I played in Tunica when I was first starting to play.

Around the third level of play, the cat was semi let out of the bag regarding my ability to play. Before the start of the third level there were a couple of comments regarding my not being able to find a hand. I picked up a split pair of kings and raised. The older players looked at me as if to say, “Ok, you picked up kings” and they all folded. The two younger players stayed in the hand. This was the best case scenario for me.

I instantly picked up aces up on Fourth Street. I bet out and was called by both players. Fifth Street saw me pair my ace. I now held aces full. I naturally bet out, I received a call and then a raise. The kid that raised was showing three cards that were double gapped for a straight. Either this kid was raising with a straight or a big draw. Of course, I capped the betting. Both opponents called. The older gentlemen at the table were confused.

Sixth Street made a pair of threes for the one player that had called along with all the raising on fifth. I bet out, and now he raised. Now the player that had the two gapped straight showing was now showing a three flush. He three bet. I cap it. Both players call.

I bet out on seventh and this time the two opponents finally slowed down and only called. I looked at the guy at the table that appeared to be the best stud player and said “what do I have?” He said, “Aces full.” I show aces full against a set of threes and a flush.

At this point, I am now the chip lead. Over the course of the round, I eliminate both of the kids at the table. Finally, one of the players asks me, “Where are you from?” When, I tell them I am from Virginia, they instantly change their tune to, “Oh no wonder. You’re from the east coast. You grew up playing stud.” And the cat was out the bag.

I ended up going through and eliminating all but two of the players at the table. I got heads up with a low limit stud poker player from Los Angeles whom I cut a deal with. I had such a massive stack that he accepted my buyout offer of $100. When I am out in the LA area, I still run across him from time to time. He is an interesting gentleman. In his mid 70’s and can outrun most people half of his age.

If you are a younger person playing stud, remember the above story. Players will discount you due to your age. When this happens, just sit back and play your game. Over time, the astute players will figure out you know what you are doing. And for those that don’t, enjoy taking their money.


Age Stereotypes in Seven Card Stud Poker – Part I

Seven card stud is one of the oldest forms of poker that is still played in casinos nationwide. While holdem has been around a long time, holdem was not allowed in many casinos for a long time, especially in Los Angeles. Games such as stud, razz, lowball, and draw poker were king for a long time. As holdem became more popular, stud games began to dry up and as a result most stud games that you will find are usually occupied by older players. This is particularly true of lower stakes stud games.

I have been playing stud most of my life and when I started playing live in 2006, the first thing I noticed was the distinct lack of respect for anyone under the age of 50 that sat down in a stud game. Even today, when I sit down in a stud game I get a lot of confused looks by players that haven’t been used to seeing me play. The floor staff even will react with confusion. When I ask what is being spread, they look at me and usually rattle off the holdem options. I get confused looks when I ask to be put on stud lists.

This type of stereotype can be helpful to you at the poker tables when playing stud. I view being a young person in a seven card stud game with older players almost on par as being a woman playing almost any poker game. Men generally look at women with either disdain or with a total lack of respect. That happens a bit with younger players at stud tables.

The second live poker game I ever played in a casino was a 7 card stud satellite at the WSOP Circuit Event in Tunica Mississippi in January 2006. Five players had been sitting around for a while waiting for the satellite to fill up. When I saw the game, I sat in. The five gentlemen were all much older than me, by at least 20 years or more. After about ten or fifteen minutes, two kids that were clearly holdem players sat down. Now, you will probably look at me and say, “Hey, you are talking about stereotypes and you just made a stereotypical statement.”

When you look at a kid that sits down with sunglasses, walkman, and baseball cap, do you think seven card stud? No. The other kid actually spoke up and said that he doesn’t normally play stud, but he thought he would help us get the game going. The older gentlemen did a collective sizing up of the two kids and then all sized me up. It was clear that they thought I was one of them.

Their assumptions were initially proven correct with the play of the two kids at the table. They had no real concept of how to play the game. They chased with bad pairs, chased bad draws, and couldn’t read what their opponents were potentially drawing after.

I will continue the rest of this story in my next entry.