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“Ace in the Hole, All-a Time Broke” (Part 2) by Alan25main

November 18, 2020

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What are premium starting hands in Seven Card Stud? They’re different than what you may be used to in Hold’em. Alan25main shares his top selections below, along with hands you should be wary of.

So, what constitutes a “good” starting hand to continue with at Seven Card Stud High only? Cards that work together.

Ideally, look for “rolled up” trips in the first three cards. Any starting triplet is a favorite to win the hand against any one or two comers, and higher trips are even better. High pairs, especially with a high suited connecting card, are a good start. A rolled up suit or three-in-a-row straight, especially if two or all cards were suited is worth playing. High and medium pairs, especially if both cards are in the hole. Low pairs, if they’re both in the hole, but treat them cautiously if one card is open. Three high cards, and if two are suited, that’s better. One-card gap straight draws might be playable, if the price is low.

If you have no pairs, flush, or straight potential, you probably need to fold and certainly need to fold to a raised bet. Yes, miracles still happen, but not often enough to matter. Chances are you’ll go broke long before that miracle shows up.

At Seven Stud Hi/Lo Split, you will almost always want to go for low rather than high. Unless you’ve got a premium high start, like a high pair or trips, you’re better off to fold right away for little or no cost except the ante than to get a nice two pair hand that loses to a straight or a flush you thought was merely a low.

So, with that in mind, you want either rolled up trips, three of a suit or high straight, or three very low cards, like below a 7 (Ace-3-6, for example). Again, suited is better. If you enter with something like J-10-7 of three suits, you’ll likely end up second best both ways. 

If you have to make the forced bring-in, don’t waste the chips to call a completed bet or raise unless you meet the starting requirements. The one time you’ll grab half a pot will not pay for all the times you miss entirely. Don’t hesitate to fold a likely second best. More chips are lost by coming in second than any other cause. A really good second best hand is a disaster awaiting you. Avoiding it is the only defense that works.

Study your opponents. Learn which way they tend to try going. Once you understand them, you’ll have a much better chance to beat them or avoid them, whichever is best for you.

Betting aggressively on an uncompleted low is usually a mistake. Anyone going high will get no worse than they already are, so the highs are going to call anyway, and won’t care when you miss your low and lose. Unless you’ve isolated a single opponent, bluffing is usually counter-productive, and even then, it’s chancy. In a home or club game with a declaration of direction, there is some little room for bluffery by going opposite of where you think your opponent is going; in a casino or cardroom cards-read game, that vanishes. Either you qualify for low, or you don’t. There is no exception for bluffing. Good luck!