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While it’s not uncommon to see poker tournaments solely focused on the popular game of Texas Hold’em, you may be curious to know what else is out there in the world of cards.  Oddly enough, before Hold’em made its dominating impact on the gaming industry in general, traditional games like 7-card stud were known for being extremely popular. Today, stud is becoming more of a rarity; however, for those that have been playing the game for a long time, it’s a classic that’s worth a revival.  Depending on your game of choice, your strategy will vary. For 7-card stud, here are some general strategic tips to improve and perfect your game play:

Strict Hand Selection

Your starting hand is essential to your success during the game.  Know what to look for in your starting hand, and where your strengths and weaknesses are.  Every game is different, and the strength of your starting hand is dependent on what you’re playing.  In 7-card stud you’ll want to look for hands such as :

  • Three of a kind (rolled up trips): Ideally you want to start from AAA and work your way down.  The stronger the card, the better.
  • Strong pairs: Generally applying to AA, or any face card pairs. KK, QQ, JJ
  • Strong kicker:  Your kicker can make or break you when it comes right down to it.  A strong pair, such as a KK, will be much more powerful with a kicker like a J over a kicker with just a number value, like a 4.  For example, (QQ) J is stronger than (QQ) 4.
  • Effective connectors:  If your hand starts off with a good combination, and a connecting card that can lead you to a stronger hand like a straight, or straight flush.

Know How to Read Your Opponents

Always assess your competition and their playing strategy.  You can analyze factors such as who folds when things get aggressive, who is bluffing (when they probably shouldn’t be), who plays inferior hands rather than folding when they should, etc.  These things are important to look out for, and can surely help you assess the next moves of your opponents.

Pay Attention to Your Opponents Up Cards

The up-cards in stud are a very important part of the game.  You’ll each start the game with two cards face down (your hole cards) and one card face up; this makes up your starting hand.  As the game continues, betting takes place, and the fourth, fifth, and sixth card are dealt to each player face up (your up-cards) and the final, seventh card, is dealt face down.  The up-cards of your opponent can tell a lot about what their hand might be; if their up-cards are already strong, you can use your better judgement based on their actions to judge what they might have in their closed hand.  

While poker is often considered a game of luck, games like 7-card stud do also require strategic thought.  Use some of these tips in your next stud game!