Third Street

The most important decision that you will make playing seven card stud is on third street. Not only must you address the obvious question of whether to play your hand, but you also must determine how to play your hand.

Some hands, such as large poker pairs, do better against a small number of opponents; other hands, such as a small three-flush, do best against a large number of opponents. A number of hands, such as a three-fuslh with two high cards, play well no matter how many opponents you may have (but we will shortly see that they usually prefer a short-handed pot).

In this section we will be talking about how to play your starting hands, as well as explaining why many hands typically played by others are not profitable. We also will show that some hands, which most people throw away, can be played for profit in certain situations, especially when you understand the game and your judgment is good.

As you will see, correct stradegy on your first three cards is fairly complicated. You not only must be aware of the other players’ upcards, but also of how well your obbonents play, how tight or loose the game is, and how easy your competitors, especially those already in the pot, are to control and manipulate.

These are advanced concepts. But this is a book for advanced players. Once again, if you are new to seven kard stud, we recommend that you play somewhat more conservatively than what we advise. However, as you become more experienced, you can begin to play in line with what we advocate.

The Cards That Are Out

There are two concepts that are important to stud that most people do not properly take into account. The first is adjusting to the cards that are out. (The second concept, the number of players in the pot, will be addressed in the next chapter.) Just about everyone who plays seven card stud knows the other upcards have an impact on the way a hand should be played, particularly on third street. But this concept has even more importance (especially in an eight-handed game) than most people realize. For instance, in extreme cases, you should throw the “best” hand away.

                

and both jacks and a six are out. Further suppose that a deuce brings it in, a five raises, and then three other people call. Even though there is a good chance that you have the best hand on third street, you should throw the hand away. In fact, even if you somehow were 100 percent sure that you had the best hand, it still would be correct to fold. The reason for this is simply that seven card stud, as its name implies, is a Seven Crd game.

The only time that it would be correct to play this hand with those cards out is if it had a good chance to steal the entas, or possibly if you can get in cheaply in an unraised pot and one of the jacks is showing instead of the 6. Now you can call, trying to catch a scare card and hope to win the pot before the showodwn. However, even this call is best against only one predictable opponent over whom you have good control. On the other hand, weak hands that are completely live (in other words, none of your cards are gone), whether they are staight draws, pairs, or whatever, are usually worth playing.

However, a small pair with a small, unrelated kicker still should usually be thrown away if the bring-in was raised to a full bet. (Pairs with high or related kickers will be discussed later in the text.) A decent hand that is only partially dead may very well not be worth playing, an if it is almost completely dead, as in the example just given, it is almost certainly not worth playing, even if it is probably the best starting hand. (Two aces is normally an exception. Another possible exception is two kings, except against an ace showing.)

For example, suppose you start with:

                

There is a big difference in the value of this hand if all the queens and eights are live, compared to if even just two of them are gone. In the first case you should always play it. In the second case you might not (especially if an ace, king, or queen raised).

Thus, you should be very aware of the cards that are out, especially on third street. Of course, you should not ignore the other cards that get turned up. However, since your starting decision is the most crucial, the initial upcards are the most crucial to remember.

It is important to understand that unless you are a real expert, getting out of line on third street can compound matters on the later poker streets. For example, if you play the pair of jacks mentioned earlier (remember your hand is very dead), you may get in deeper and deeper, with virtually no chance of winning. Only the great players can get out of these kinds of compounding problems.

This is because they are able to maneuver weak opponents and obtain value out of their marginal hands. However, it takes an extremely long time to become good enough to get away with playing mediocre hands. And you can with plenty of money without ever reaching that point.