Fifth Street Strategy


Whether to get involved in the pot on third poker street is your most important decision at seven card stud. Of close second importance is whether you continue to play at fifth street. It is here that the betting will tend to become heavier a spread-limit game, and the limits will double in a fixed-limit game.

And on fifth street, players either have made their hands or now have a holding to which they can draw to make a completed hand. Possibilities abound. With this in mind, keep in mind the following rules of play poker

Don't stay past fifth street unless you are planning to stay to the end.

Now lets talk about what to stay with.


If you started with three-of-a-kind and have now made a full house or, wonder of wonders, four of a kind, you can afford to lay back a bit-slow play. You are an almost certain winner and don't want to run off your customers. Just call any bets in front of you, of if you are first to act, go ahead and bet.

It would be a mistake to go for a check-raise here, but many players do just that. You will have tipped the strength of your hand too early, and will have given your opponents an opportunity to fold without contributing heavily to your bankroll.

If the game allows for an option as to how much you can bet (a spread-limit game), I recommend three-quarters of the allowable maximum bet. Don't get cute and bet the minimum. Your board will be showing at least one pair, and all but the least sophisticated of players will see through your little trap.

Just call any raises, but don't reraise-not yet. Wait for sixth street to set the hook. At fifth street, its too easy for your opponents to let go of their poker hands, even drawing hands. They haven't invested much yet and don't feel compelled to protect their money.

Of course, you should never feel that you must protect the money you have put in. once its in the pot, its no longer yours. It belongs to the pot and requires no protection. Your only reason for continuing to play a hand is if it has a good chance to win: You have either the best hand or the best draw.

If you haven't improved your trips, you still have a strong hand. But you must be aware of players who have now paired with cards that rank higher than your trips, especially if they have paired their doorcards. It is now possible that they have trips which are higher than yours.

But if both their third-street and fourth street upcards are suited, it is quite possible that they have been drawing to a four-flush and have now added a pair. This gives them a powerful draw. You must bet or raise as much as you can in an effort to drive them out, or to make them pay the maximum to try to beat your holding.

You are still a favorite, but if you could win it right here, a sigh of relief would be in order. Heres a piece of information you may find interesting and useful:

An opponent who pairs his fourth-street card is more likely to have two pair than three-of-a-kind.

But if the rank of his exposed pair is higher than your trips, you’d rather have him out. If his hand is two-pair, you have him beaten. But if you both make full houses, his will be higher than yours (if he fills it with his higher pair rather than his other pair), and you'll lose a lot of chips learning that.

With two cards yet to come, your poker odds are good for making a full house (2.5-to-1), so you'll be staying to the end. But continue to watch the board for the cards you need, and for the cards that you figure your opponents need.

If your needed cards are gone, and if you’re getting a lot of action from players showing three-to-a-flush while their cards are still live, you could be drawing dead. It’s very tough to throw away three-of-a-kind; use your best judgment here.

What I'm giving you with this Course is about ninety percent of what Las Vegas professionals use at these medium and lower limits. The rest is experience and judgment. That I cant give you.

If you perceive no threatening competition, play your trips as aggressively as you can, especially against several players. Someone is drawing to something. You'd rather deny them that opportunity. Against one player who probably is still in with just a pair, you can lay back a bit.


If you have reached fifth street no improvement of your one big pair, whether you continue playing is determined mostly by the same factors you had to consider on fourth street overcards and live cards. Don't automatically fold, as many players do in this spot.

Think first. You can carefully consider staying if there are no more than two poker players remaining in contention for the pot. But with three or more active players, the chances of your big pair holding up diminish.

If it appears that your opponent has made two pair while you still have only one big pair, you can keep playing if your pair is higher than his biggest pair and your cards are live.

Lets say that you started with a pair of kings and your third-street raise was called by an obvious pair of queens. Neither of you improved at fourth street. Now on fifth street, the queens have added a pair of nines. Since your kings are higher than either of his two-pair, play on if your cards are live.

But if the queens now have a pair of aces to go with them, you are done, live cards or not, because one of his pairs is bigger than your pair. There are times to chase and there are times to run. The primary determining factors are overpairs, overcards, and live cards.


If you have two pair here at fifth street, if is important to maintain your requirements for overpairs and live cards. Many players will continue with two smaller pair against their opponents one bigger pair (which we saw at fourth street is not such a good idea) if they now have added a live overcard to their hands.

To me, that's stretch. I haven't added that much strength to a hand that I have to play fast, betting and raising as much as I can to try to eliminate opponents.

The positive factor is that this is the place, here at fifth street where the bets double in a structured game, where you have your best double in a structured game, where you have your best chance of running off that player who holds one higher pair.

Heres where knowledge of your opponents pays off once again. Will he run, or will he stay if you push hard? Id make my decision to play aggressively, or fold, on that basis.

You want to be either the bettor or the raiser, not a caller, with your two pair on fifth street just as on fourth street.

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