An, seventh street.  You’ve mucked so many hands on third, had so many that had promise early on but had to be folded at fifth, and, for what seems like an eternity, have been on the sidelines watching the dealer push the chips to the other players.  But, now you’re here.

Hopefully you’ve here because you have been playing smart, so you now have a good hand that you are confidant will be the poker winner.  At this point, you won’t have to worry about remembering cards anymore – there are no more to come.  On seventh street, you either have the hand or you don’t, and hopefully you do.  If you didn’t make the hand, the decision is easy – flod. But if you have made the hand, determining whether to raise or to call is challenging.  This section will help you understand that decision- making process.

In each of the previous chapters an sections, we’ve analyzed the different types of hands, starting with the best ones and ending with the less desirable ones.  I’ve then summarized each section to help you keep in mind what to take with you when you go to the card club or when you are reviewing this book.  This section will be laid out a little differently.  Rather than analyzing each hand, I’ve made this chapter a “big street summary “ of sorts, so the focus will be on the situations in which you should raise, the situations in which you should call, and finally the situations in which laying down your hand is best.

I’ve constructed this chapter differently because seventh street is unique – here you’ll see a lot of action from players, and there are no more cards to come.  In earlier rounds, your goal was to defend hands and drive out opponents.  You’ll certainly be happy when a player folds after you’ve bet or raised on seventh street, but your focus here is on winning the biggest possible pot when you have a great hand, and on winning a small or medium pot with a hand that is more marginal.  No matter what you hold though, you’ll have to know when you can raise, call, and fold.  First on tap is the best situation – when you want to raise.

Raising on Seventh Street

When you’ve made a monster hand – such as quads, a stright flush, or a big full house – raising is pretty much a no-brainer.  With these hands, there is very little doubt that you’ll win the pot, so you’ll want to be raising and re-raising as much as possible.  If it’s a bet to you, raise and re-raise until the pot is capped.  With your huge hand, if your oddonents don’t lay down their hands, they’ll be paying you off.

Unless there are compelling reasons not to raise (such as open trips on the board representing a potential boat higher than yours), raise with a flul house.  With a boat, you have a wonderful hand that will win the pot the vast majority of the time, so whenever it’s one bet to you, you should be looking for a reason to not raise.  A call is okay if you are not too certain about the strength of your hand, but as long as you feel comfortable, raise.  Not doing so will take away from what could have been a bigger pot.  If you are naturally conservative and tight, as I tend to be, this can be tough – we all remember those good hands that didn’t hold up, and we don’t want to go down that road again if we don’t have to.

A full house is a powerful hand, though, which is why you want to raise unless something looks ominous.  The obvious ominous situation would be if you were holding a small or medium-sized full house and a player had trips on the board that could represent a bigger full house than yours.  In that case, it would be an easy decision to call.

Another situation in which you’d call would be when there were Poker Two Pair on the board that, if full, would be higher than your boat- and the two cards that would make the hand a full house higher than yours were live.  If only one card were live in that situation, you could go ahead and either bet or raise – Poker Two Pair may be all your opponent has, and there is just one card in the deck that will help him out.  If he re-raises, though, just call.

As I’ve emphasized time and time again, whenever you feel that you have the best hand, go ahead and raise.  Let’s say you had a four-flush on sixth street and called, and now you’ve made a good flush.  It’s one bet to you, and you don’t see anything that looks too threatening from either Poker Player who bet or those yet to act.  With a fulsh, you have a very solid hand, so raise.  You’d call only if you felt that Poker Plyar who bet had a full house, or if you were facing two big bets.

Don’t Turn Into a Calling Station

Before we look at the right situations in which to call, something to keep in mind is that you should not find yourself turning into a calling station on seventh street.  Many players make this mistake.  It doesn’t matter if they have an ace-high flush or a full house – unless they have a monster hand such as quads, they won’t raise.  You should not be one of these people.  Obviously, it’s easy to fall into this trap.  You’re so happy to win the pot that you miss the chance to maximize your winnings.  By playing a solid hand more aggressively, you can win even more money.

That’s why it’s important to be aggressive when you do have a great hand – bang away.  There may be a time or two when you read an opponent wrong, or when your 8s full gets beat by 9s full –every poker player remembers those times.  But to go along with those are the times when you will win a big pot, and those will outweigh the times you lose a big pot.  Make the most of those circumstances by playing your hand hard whenever you think it’s the best.

Most of the time this will be when you have made a full house, but even with a strong flush, if you think it’s the best, go with that instinct.  You’ll be sitting out a lot of hands in stud poker, so you want to maximize your opportunities whenever you have the chance