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THE “STUFF” OF WINNING POKER

THIRD STREET STRATEGY

FOURTH STREET STRATEGY

FIFTH STREET STRATEGY

SIXTH STREET STRATEGY

SEVENTH STREET STRATEGY

RULE FOR WINNING POKER

MORE RULES FOR WINNING POKER

TOURNAMENT TACTICS

CAN MAKE A LIVING PLAYING LOW TO MEDIUM-LIMIT POKER?

THE FINAL WORD

 

Playing Straight draws are the most overrated starting hands in seven card stud: They often create more problems than they are worth.  On the rare occasions in a tournament when you are playing in a multi-way pot against four or five people, you can reasonably assume that two or three of them are drawing to a flush.  Straight draws do not play well against flush draws.

Therefore, if your opponents show any improvement on fourth poker street with either a suited card or a suited connector (which could enable them to make either a straight or a flush), you must play a straight draw with extreme caution and it cannot be played at all against a raiser who holds a doorcard higher than any of your three straight cards.

As a general rule, fold your straight draws early and often unless they are very live.  If you decide to draw to your straight, be very leery of a raiser who may have a  high  pair.  You’re better off passing.  You can feel somewhat more comfortable, of course, if all three of your straight cards are higher than his doorcard.

Suppose you enter an unraised pot with three to a straight, or your have cards higher than the raiser ’s doorcard in a raised pot.  You have improved your hand on fourth street by either pairing, or by catching a fourth card to your straight (with a hand such as 9-10-J, for example, you catch a 7 and don’t see any 8s on the board).

Under these conditions, you can continue playing until fifth poker street.  Of course, if you spot one or two 8s showing on fifth street and an opponent bets into you, you must pass, unless you also have a pair.  Even if your pair doesn’t appear to be the best one, you probably still have enough outs (even with an inside straight draw) to continue playing the hand.

But you need all four of your straight cards to be live if you continue playing with an inferior pair.  Try to play the hand as cheaply as possible; if you can get a free card, take it.  And if you think your pair has become the best hand on fifth street, value bet based on its strength.

Sometimes, a hand as strong as A-K-Q is playable, even for a raise or possibly a reraise, unless the reraise comes from an ace or king showing.  In that case, you simply must pass.  Say a 9 has brought in the pot for a raise and a queen has reraised.  You hold A-K-Q and suspect the reraiser may have queens.

If there are no aces, kings, jacks or 10s showing (or one, at the most), you are justified in taking off a card with your two overcards.  With three overcards to the raiser ’s doorcard, and if he really has the hand he is representing, you still have a very close hand. But if the raise or reraise comes from a online poker player with an ace or king and you are fairly certain he has either aces or kings, you should pass even if no jacks or 10s are showing. When you make a pair on fourth street (along with your straight draw) but see no apparen't improvement to your opponent’s hand, you can continue value betting, even if you are reasonably sure your opponent has overcards.

So long as you think you have the best pair, even though your opponent has overcards (but has not caught a threatening-looking card such as a suited connector), you can continue value betting until you have reason to believe you are beaten.

If you started with three overcards and your had is live, you can probably justify taking off a card on fourth street if you don’t seem to be in danger of being raised by an opponent behind you.  But if you are in danger of being raised, you can’t call that first bet on fourth street and will have to pass.  If you are heads up and have not improved by fifth street, you will have to give it up if your opponent continues betting.

If you have four to a straight on fourth street, your chances of making your hand are not quite as good as they would be if you had a four-flush.  But with a reasonable hand, enough money in the pot, and overcards, you have adequate reason to play to the river, unless you think someone has either filled up, or has paired his doorcard with a strong potential to fill up, or has made a flush.

Be very leery when you are playing straight draws against flush draws in multiway pots.  In tournaments, however, you often have only one or two active opponents in most pots, so you are usually getting enough incentive from the pot odds and your live hand to continue playing to the river.

What you are looking for seven card stud is either the best starting hand, which is usually the highest pair, or the best drawing poker hand, which is either three big straight cards or a three-flush with overcards to the raiser ’s doorcard.  You want either one or the other: the best starting hand or the best drawing hand.

I caution tournament players, however, to remember this: Playing too many drawing hands in tourneys is usually a mistake.  I exact multiple criteria for my drawing hands, one of which is the possession of overcards so that, if I don’t improve to the flush possibility I started with, at least I have a chance of making the best hand with a higher pair than my opponents.

Playing Pairs. Most stud players do a lot of raising on third poker street to try to force out weaker pairs and marginal drawing hands.  The reason is obvious:  When you start with the best pair, you have a much better chance of winning without improvement if you are against only one or two opponents.  What you hope to do is isolate and eliminate players so that you can play heads up with your big pair.

Although it isn’t always possible to accomplish this, you can at least punish people for trying to draw out on you by making them put in extra money. Sometimes your opponents will draw out on you because they don’t put you on the correct hand, or because they don’t put you on the correct hand, or because they think you are either bluffing or semi-bluffing.

Or they may have a good pair themselves or a live overcard to your doorcard. If you think you may have the worst pair, only one overcard makes any sense in prompting you to continue with the hand: an ace.  If you have the ace overcard, it is better to have it buried because of its deceptive value if you catch another ace.

Playing Pair Against Pair.  Suppose you begin with what you think is the best starting pair and your opponent catches up with you when he makes an open pair (but one that does not pair his doorcard). For example, say you raised with a 9 and have been called by a player with an 8.  On fourth street, he catches a 6 while you catch a random jack that doesn’t help you

On fifth street, your opponent draws another 6 and you catch a deuce. You believe he now holds 8s and 6s.  what should you do against your opponent’s probable two pair? So long as you are sure your opponent has made no better than 8s and 6s, you can continue playing.  You are hoping to make either a second pair or trips, which will give you the winning poker hand provided your opponent gets no further help.

Of course, you can no longer play aggressively. You have to take a more defensive posture by just calling. If your opponent bets into you on the river, you would have tough call with only one pair because the only hand you could beat would be a busted draw and the one open pair he’s betting.

In this case, it is correct to fold on the river unless you have a very good read on your opponent as having only the one pair with a busted flush or straight draw.  But that would be a risky call which you wouldn’t want to make very often. Now suppose you have made fourth streets two pair and your opponent bets into you on the river.

Normally, you should just call because you can’t be certain he hasn’t made either trips or is holding a big pocket pair such as aces or kings which he has been value betting.  Of course, against an aggressive player whom you think is capable of betting 8s and 6s, you should consider a raise, which can be a very close judgment call.

This is a hand that will win you a lot of money when you are fortunate enough to get it, but it can also be very expensive when you lose with it.  The following tips will help you to maximize  your chances of winning with rolled-up trips.

First of all, remember that in tournaments, you are not usually trying to get full value from each good starting hand, as you would be trying to do in a side game.  Survival is more important than squeezing an extra bet from your premium hands.  it is better to win a smaller pot than it is to risk getting drawn out on in a large pot.

This concept is more important in the later stages than in the early stages of tournaments, when you still have enough time and chips to recover when you suffer a bad beat. So in the early stage, you can gamble a little bit more with rolled-up trips than you can later on.

With small trips such as deuces, treys, fours or fives, if the pot is shaping up as a multiway contest, you will be a greater jeopardy of being drawn out on than you would be in a two or three-way pot.  Therefore, if you have limped in with your small trips, which is usually the correct thing to do, you may want to raise or check-raise on fourth or fifth street in an attempt to limit the field.

Base your poker strategy on your betting objectives.  If your objective is to eliminate players from a multi-way pot, you probably will have to raise to achieve that goal.  Based on your evaluation of your opponents, play rolled-up trips with the strategy you think will get the most money into the pot.  If you think slow playing on fourth street and then raising on fifth street will do it, play that strategy.  Or sf you think it would it be best to wait until sixth street, then fine-do that.

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