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“The Reason Stud Games Take Longer to Play” by Alan25main

December 17, 2020

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Are you new to Seven Card Stud, and curious about why it can last longer than your typical Hold’em games? Alan25main shares his thoughts on the key difference-maker: limits.

Playing Seven Card Stud feels natural to me, just as if I’d been playing it almost all my life. Hey! Wait a minute! I HAVE been playing it almost all of my life. 

My earliest memory of playing 7-stud for money was a Boy Scout camping trip in February, 1961. John Kennedy had just been inaugurated a few weeks earlier. We were “learning winter wilderness survival.” We had to build a fire without using matches or a lighter, “mush” a “dog-sled” (the dogs were other scouts–there were six of us and we took turns being the dogs doing the sled pulling), fell a tree and make a hut out of the branches before dark, cook and eat our supper, and then spend the night in the hut. Doing what, you ask? Playing poker, of course. I won 30 or 35 cents before we all fell asleep. No one was frostbitten, so we all passed the test and qualified for that merit badge.

How did it cost so little? The game was 1 penny fixed limit bets. Most of the time, no one raised and there was a lot of checking. So, it was likely the average hand cost each player who stayed in to the end no more than 3 or 4 cents. I learned quickly that folding was often a good move.

Why am I boring you with this ancient history? Because it impacts today’s games here at Replay Poker. The dominant games at Replay are either Hold’em or Omaha Hi/Lo. And the dominant betting limit is NO LIMIT. How many hands does it take to go broke at no limit? One. Stud poker is almost always played as a limit game. It takes many hands to go broke at limit games.

In a no limit game, we suffer from bingo players and other wild men. Because there is no limit, there isn’t really any defense against the perpetual all-in bettor. In a limit game, everyone can check to the wild bettor and all she can do is make that one fixed bet. Did we just limit our costs to play? Oh, yeah, we did. In fact, we’ve turned the tables completely around and now it’s the wild one who has to play defense against our raises when we’ve trapped him after his fixed bet.

We at Replay have become so accustomed to playing no limit, we’ve lost sight of the old ways. Of course, the games take longer. You have to kill your victim in small increments rather than all at once in a single hand. That takes more time.

I should’ve noticed this right away. Prior to coming to Replay in 2015, I almost always played fixed limit games, even Hold’em and Omaha. But, fixed limit games aren’t popular here at Replay, so I learned to play no limit like everyone else. We are all thinking in terms of no limit, even when we play at a limit game table. It’s like second nature to us, now. 

It’s almost like having two sets of wrenches, one set in metric sizes, the other in SAE inches and fractions. If the only skills in your toolbox are for no limit, you’ll have to learn to make adjustments to play a limit game. We have to think differently. The “check” has suddenly become a powerful and useful tool, again.