Seven card stud is fading into obscurity because hold’em has exploded. Even some regular seven card stud players are making the move (even to no limit hold’em) simply because the value is too good to pass. But seven card stud is still available in online poker rooms and games are usually going round the clock.
IF YOU HAVE A HAND AND CALL THE 6th STREET, DON’T FOLD ON THE RIVER
There are only two reasons for calling 6th street and then folding on the river:
1) You missed your draw and/or you cannot beat your opponents’ exposed cards.
2) You are absolutely certain (perfect tell) that your opponent hit his hand on the river.
With the former, the decision is clear-cut. With the latter, the decision is very difficult – only super readers will get it right most of the time.
Everything is between causes a lot of confusion, but the answer is simple. If you think there is a good chance that you have the best hand on the 6th street, you must not second guess yourself on the river. It’s a nasty habit that too many players fall into.
For example, if you have (J-10)-8-9-J-9, your opponent has (x-x)-10-Q-Q-6 and you think that there is a good chance that you have the best hand, you should always follow through a call on 6th street with a call on the river, irrespective of whether you improve.
Similarly, if your opponents board looked something like (x-x)-6h-7h-9s-10h-(x), you shouldn’t be changing your mind about their hand on the river if you decided to call 6th street.
DEALING WITH THE CALLER WHO STARTS BETTING WHEN HIS BOARD PAIRS
This is an area that one could write a book on. This is the scenario: You have (Q-K)-8-Q-3 and an opponent, who was calling up until this point, comes out betting on 5th street with a board of (x-x)-5-10-10. Now there is never a right answer to approaching this type of situation, but here’s a few good guidelines to determining whether the exposed pair improved them to two pair or trips, or whether it was simply a pair they happened to catch while going for another hand.
1) Look at the door card and make a reasonable assumption of their starting cards. Then consider their fourth street card and its potential role in their first three starting cards. For example, if they have (x-x)-K-4-J-J, my guess is that they probably have nothing more than a pair of Jacks. If he didn’t bring it in for a raise, I would probably rule out the possibility of a split pair or even a wired (pocket) pair. Therefore, its more like that they probably started with something like (A-5)-K or maybe (Q-10)-K. On the other hand, if they started with (x-x)-5-6-J-J, I’m more concerned about the prospect of two pair. With 5 at the door, I’d be inclined to say they started with something like (4-6)-5. Therefore, the 6 on fourth street may have given him a pair and then the running jacks improves him to two pair. It’s the texture of other people’s hands that becomes an important consideration in these situations. But also consider whether your opponent pays any mind to his three starting cards in the first place. If they are loose and in every pot, this approach may not be very effective. But if they are tighter and more predictable, these are the sorts of things you should keep in mind.
2) Consider the danger of your exposed cards. If you have (A-Q)-K-Q-10 showing and this opponent comes out betting with (x-x)-8-9-9, you’re probably in trouble. But if your have is (K-J)-9-K-3, your opponent may be more inclined to test whether his exposed pair is any good by firing in a bet.
3) If you have a pair that is bigger that your opponent’s pair, but you’re not totally convinced that you’re in front, consider whether you have any backdoor potential. For example, if you have (Q-J)-10-Q-4, then a king or a 9 on 6th street will give you an open ended straight. Alternatively, you may have (Jh-9c)-8h-Js-6h, in which case, you have several different types of hands backdoor draws that could eventuate.
4) Whether you have “dead cards.” If you look around the table and see that a lot of the cards that you require need improve to two pairs or trips are amongst your opponents’ exposed card, time to give up if you think that you may well be behind. It is also good if you can see (or remember seeing) cards of the same rank as your opponent’s exposed pair in other players’ exposed cards. For example, if your opponent has (x-x)-9-Q-Q, another opponent has (x-x)-Q-4-3 and a third one has (x-x)-8-3-Q, then you can rule out trips. As such, if may be worth staying in the pot. Even if you are behind, you only need to pair up another card to hit the lead (since you would obviously only contemplate calling an opponent who has an exposed pair if you have an overpair to it!).
BLUFFING IS MOST SUCCESSFUL WITH THREE EXPOSED SUITED CARDS
In seven card stud, the best bluffing opportunities arise when your first three exposed cards are all of the same suit.
Now in hold’em, you will not always succeed in bluffing with three suited cards on the flop, simply because many players are aware of the semi-bluff potential here. For example, if you have As-10h and the flop is 9s-6s-3s, many players will think that you may have nothing more than an ace of spades in the hole and will subsequently call. However, they know that have to give up their hand on the river if a fourth spade drops.
By contrast, seven card stud is more dangerous. If you have three exposed cards of the same suit by fifth street, your opponent is confronted with a difficult decision because (a) you may already have a flush; and (b) you may have four cards to a flush, but he’ll never know whether you complete your draw on the river without calling, simply because the river card is dealt face down.
As such, it is much easier to force players out of the pot in stud when you have three of the same suit showing. If an opponent calls you on fifth street, you must continue to bluff on sixth, simply because this is his last opportunity to change his mind. If he calls here, he’ll have to close his eyes, prey and automatically call any bet you throw at him on the river. This effectively means that you should probably give up your bluff on the river if he calls sixth street and is the type of player that will look you up if he called on sixth.
But often, he will give up on sixth, even if he calls on fifth. Sometimes, it can simply be a change of mind or perhaps he doesn’t want to risk you catching a fifth suited card on the river, even he correctly puts you nothing but a flush draw. Whatever the reason, try to push him into folding on sixth, even if he calls on fifth. Use this final moment to force him out as it’s the last chance you get, even if you have a hand like (As-Jh)-10c-9c-4c-6s