In seven-card stud both straight high and high-low split eight or better, the most significant decisions is whether to play a hand on a third street or not. Though stud eight or better is spread at the higher limits, many rivals will fairly do a good job of hand selection. Furthermore, in stud eight or better most of the money in the pot goes in on the later rounds of betting and big pots normally goes in the early round of betting.
Due to these reasons, you become a consistent winner in stud eight or better which makes you play well on every street. However, with hand selection you play comfortably, thus information that follows is very essential.
Stud eight or better hands can be classified into various categories according to how strong hand they usually have. This can differ depending on your position, who has performed before you, the action up to that point and so forth. However, generally the starting hands categories are placed as follows:
Categories No.1 and No.2: Rolled-up trips and three cards to a low straight flush. In seven-card stud eight or better there are two best starting hands rolled up trips and three cards to a low straight flush. Rolled-up trips are discussed under a separate heading titled "Starting with Three of a Kind Wired" later in this section. Three cards to a low straight flush are played like three small cards to a straight which is explained in Category No.4. But, remember that the hand with flush possibilities is much stronger.
Category No.3: Two aces with a low card. This hand is the third best starting hand in stud eight or better and even in multiway pots. However, aces are best in heads-up pots; which mean that when you are dealt with this hand, you generally should raise or re-raise to thin out the field.
Category No.4 and No.5: Three small cards to a straight and two small cards with an ace. These two different hands are closely related with each other. In a heads-up case, even though what many people think, both hands are low to the high hand - unless it is sure what the high hand is. If the high hand is concealed, the player holding it will outplay his rival and win the big share of the pots. Recall, we are discussing about an advanced player. A weak poker player with high hand may not often know what he has, which will allow the low hand to outplay him. He will be forced to fold when he shouldn't and will call to the end those times when he is likely to get scooped.
A great deal of emphasis is placed by many of your rivals on a three low cards to a straight. Such hands are extremely strong and do scoop bigger pots. Moreover, they do well in multiway pots when the cards to fill the open ends are very live and when these hands are not up against many other low hands.
Therefore, with the two best starting hands, three low cards to a straight and two low cards with an ace, you should often play strongly and gamble with them as far as your low cards are live. If your few low cards are dead, then you should play these hands carefully and be ready to fold on fourth street if you catch worse and it appears that some of your rivals improve.
The reasons that these hands do best is that they not only win the money from the pot when they make a low but also make the other hands such as two pair, trips, straights or flushes - that may beat some of the hands played for high. However, these hands also bust out a reasonable amount of time and not getting away from them immediately is a major mistake that standard poker players make.
Furthermore, when playing one of these hands you may come across over a rough card than one of your rivals and find that you are now against someone who is drawing better than you are. Thus, you want to have the smallest low hand to draw to; otherwise you will make the second-best low hand frequently and will get penalized.
For example, there are four people in, three low cards to a straight such as
do well than three low cards containing an ace that does not have straight possibilities such as
Although the latter hand makes two aces or aces up many times, having straight possibility often allow you to bet your hand or to raise for value. Three low cards containing an ace may not give a good play, especially when you chase another ace - the game's scare card - which actually brings down the action.
When you begin with three low straight cards and then chase an ace, you will have in general at least the best low draw and often a wheel draw. This will allow you to play with confidence which converts into hostile betting and raising.
These two types of hands do the same in heads-up situations (even if it is little better to hold two small cards and an ace). It depends on the live cards and the player you are against. A hostile player will play better with the ace hands and a passive player will play better with three low straight cards.
If you are against a high hand, the 678 can escape for low as easily as
However, it is easier for the 678 to make a high hand. The winning high hand may be a medium pair or a hand like eights up - which might escape for high, especially if the it is short handed pot. One good thing about this hand is that it can be improved by two additional fourth-street cards that affect most other three-card low hands to bust out. The 234 requires an eight or lower on fourth-street, whereas the 678 requires a ten or lower.
Category No.6: The best high hand on board: Another good starting hand is the best high hand on board. Two kings or two queens could be an example provided that this is the best pair. Holding an ace with any of these hands makes them much better, although having an ace is not necessary.
When playing what you think is the best hand, it is very essential that your cards are "live." Frequently, low hands turn into small pair. Therefore, a high hand going against one or more low hands must be very live to reduce the chances that it gets beat by two small pair.
If you hold two aces and a high card, you possibly have the best high starting hand. In such a situation, you should prefer to have one of the aces up. This is because when an ace is showing, your rivals will make you for a low hand that will enable you to win the pot on a later round if you chase more risky low cards.
The thing which cannot be overstated is to throw away the second-best high hand. The only possible exception is when you have a two-card low as well. If you have a high pair and think you might be up against a bigger pair, throw your hand away. If a king raises, throw away two queens. If there are many over cards remaining to act, throw your big pair away.
One more time that big pairs can be expensive is when many players with low cards showing have already entered the pot. You will not want to play against a low hand that has half the pot locked up and also has a draw at the high side. This is possible when many low cards stay in. Furthermore, if someone chases an ace, you might not have the highest pair anymore. Hence, big pairs are fairly playable against many low cards calling. Also, if an ace raises, you should throw away your high pair, even if there is a fair chance that the raiser has a low hand.
You may want to play two kings heads up against a player with a nine through a queen up. If you are heads up against someone with a deuce through an eight showing, it is good but not as good as in the other situations. You do not mind playing two kings against two rivals till they do not have an ace up. In many other situations, high pairs may be risky to play. Advanced players can sometimes play these hands and limping in from a late poker position is a chance to see what happens on fourth street. However, if you not experienced poker player, throwing high pairs away in other cases can save you many bets. If you are trying to determine whether to play a big pair and the situation is close, here are some things to look upon:
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