Calculating Potentiality in 7 Card Stud
One of the hardest concepts for intermediate and beginner poker players to grasp when starting to play 7 Card Stud is how far to stay in pots based on their first few cards. More importantly, the first three cards dealt are the hardest cards to gain a foothold on. Players will often become intimidated by the fact that they don’t have a real hand at all after the first cards are dealt, and will fold before they determine whether they are worth the risk. In this article I will guide you through the different possible starting cards, and how you should think over your chances of potentially winning or losing with them. As well, I have thrown in some key 7 Card Stud tips that should help any poker player improve their Stud game.
To gain a grasp of good starting hands, a player must understand what a generally good hand in 7 Card Stud is considered to be. A 10 or better three-of-a-kind will win the pot in the majority of 7 Card Stud games, but occasionally you will see flushes and straights. This means that you would have to adjust your standards to be a bit lower than the typical Texas Holdem game, in which straights and flushes are common. In 7 Card Stud you will often be dealt really bad starting cards, and picking the good times to play them is an art. As a general rule of thumb, you will want to play the following first 3-card combos just about every time, excluding other player’s possible betting behaviors:
High Cards : 3 high cards are very strong, and with 4 more opportunities to hit one, it is recommended to stay in pots where there has either been no raise or a moderate raise. It is also advisable to push the pot higher, as you will gather some easy calls this way.
Pocket Pair : A pocket pair is considered a very strong hand as well, but if it is lower, you should be cautious. A high pair is very strong, as you will get 4 more cards to try for a three of a kind, or even a two-pair or full house. Call moderate bets with a lower pocket pair, and raise with a higher one.
Pocket Trips : The best starting cards in 7 Card Stud, considered by many. The suggestion for betting is actually the reverse though. In most situations you will want to just call or bet weakly at first, and then consistently raise the bet as the cards are dealt. If your trips are low cards though, you may want to bet strongly at first, as most people will see a weak card facing up, and you still have the chance of being beaten by others who are drawing.
3 to a Straight : Low straight draws are not as strong in 7 Card Stud, but if you have a high straight draw right off the bat, it is highly recommended to stay until the end and bet strong. The chances of hitting a card or the straight are fairly good. If the straight is low, you may want to base your actions on how other players are betting, and take it round by round.
3 to a Flush : This is one of my favorite hands to start with. If you have one high card towards the flush, you will want to begin betting and keep it up as you go. As a starting hand this one has great potential, and with a high card thrown in the mix you have a rock solid chance of winning.
As you can see, there are a number of good starting cards in 7 Card Stud, it just takes a bit of waiting to get them. If you hit any of these nice starting hands, your chances of winning in 7 Card Stud will become much better. While strategy beyond the first 3 cards is essential as well, it isn’t worth much if you can’t choose better cards to play on and how to start them off. For some more information on Stud I recommend reading the 7 Card Stud Strategy article, which gives a better general view of how to play.