Seventh Street Strategy


It is on seventh poker street that your close attention to the details of the game all through the hand will pay off.  By being able to recall the cards that have been folded, you have valuable information about the possibilities of your opponents’ hand-and you have an advantage over the guesser.

Remember; make decisions based on information you have gathered all during the play of the hand. If you are guessing, you are gambling. Take the gamble out of your game.

On seventh street, you probably won’t get any more information about your opponents’ hands because the last card is dealt face down. So when the final card is dealt, you should be looking at your opponents rather than at the cards being dealt, like most other players will be doing.

Don’t even look at your own last card until you have watched your opponents look at theirs.  Your card isn’t going anywhere.  It’ll still be there when you’re ready to look.

This is an excellent spot to pick up a tell from an opponent who has been drawing to a flush or a straight.

Many times, after a player has missed his hand, he will allow a slight look of disgust to briefly cross his face; his shoulders might sag a bit; or he may become visibly disinterested in the hand.  He might even share his misfortune with the friendly player next to him, in which case he did not make the hand.

If you had made such a hand, would you show it to anyone? Certainly not.  You’d be concerned that he would show a tell to give it away.  However, if his wife walks up to the game at that point and he shows her his hand, he has made it.  “See, honey, what a terrific player I am!”

If he looks for only a very short time, folds his cards games together and glances at his chips, he has made the hand and is ready to call any bets. If he looks at his hole cards and then at his hole cards, and again at his upcards, like many recreational players do, he is most likely trying to figure out if he made a straight.

It doesn’t take that much looking, even for a novice, to see if he made a flush or a full house.  If you are watching the seventh card you are being dealt, you’ll miss all of this. After all the cards have been dealt and four or more players are still active in the hand, you can figure it will take, on average, three eights or better to win at these limits.

With three or fewer players staying to the end, two big pair will win more often than they will lose. Keep in mind that a big pot got big here because of big hands competing for it. And the bigger the pot, the bigger the hand you usually need to win it.

Straightforward play is usually your best course of action on seventh street at these limits.

Check-raising is seldom a paying proposition. Most of your opponents are not sophisticated enough even to be trapped.  Your “moves” will be wasted. Forget the tricky stuff. That’s not what gets the money at these limits. Solid, mistake-free play sends you to the cashier on your way HOME, instead  of directly out the door.

If you think you have the best hand and are first to act, go ahead and bet. Many players will call with a hand they would not bet, because they are suspicious of a bluff and believe it is mark of dishonor to be bluffed out. Bet your strong hands, trips or better, and try to reach an inexpensive showdown with your medium or weak hands.

But keep in mind that if you perceive that your is the best hand, whatever its strength, bet it.  Remember: You don’t always need a big hand, just the best hand.

If you find yourself in the position of having to make your best guess as to whether yours is the best hand, it usually is better to call for one last bet with your average-to-good hand, rather than trying to outguess yourself.  The pot will most likely be offering you good enough poker odds that you need to be right only one-out-of-five times to make this a profitable play.

This is a defensive call that should be made when you have genuine doubt about having the best hand, but there is still a good possibility that you do. As an example, suppose you are against one player whom you have figured to be on a flush draw. You have three sevens. At sixth street, he was showing four spades as his board.

You’ve seen only two other spades. You watch as he looks at his last card, but you don’t get a tell. You are high and check.  He bets, representing the flush. Rather than trying to guess, and wonder, and figure out if he has made it, just call. It’s only one more bet. If he had made it, you pay him off.  If he hasn’t you win a nice pot.

Keep in mind that this is a defensive call that should be made when you have genuine doubt, but still have a possibility, about having the best hand.

An added bonus is that your call will keep players from bluffing at you, especially if you have a conservative image. But do use your best judgment. Be careful that you don’t allow yourself to become a calling station. Many players, even smart players, fold too often in such situations.

The pot is usually large enough at seventh street, even heads up, that it isn’t worth your energy to try to guess whether to call or fold.  If you figure that you only might have the best hand, call. This assumes that there is not the threat of a rise from a third player in the pot.

Even if your  call is a mistake, it can cost you only one more bet. Not making this call when you should will cost you  a whole pot. What about bluffing? My advice at these limits is simple and specific don’t. It is generally a losing play. If the pot is big, you aren’t going to bluff everyone out of it for one more bet.

And if it’s a small pot, why are you bluffing at it? Conventional poker wisdom says that you must advertise by doing some bluffing early in order to get paid off on your big hands later. This assumes that you are going to have big poker hands later.  You might not.  But here’s my basic reasoning:

I make a distinction between bluffing in a Home game and bluffing at public poker. What’s the difference? Simple.

If you have been playing every Friday night with the same bunch of people for several years, you must do some bluffing. Otherwise, even the slowest of them will eventually figure out that you don’t bluff, and they will tend not to call your seventh street bets unless they hold big hands which can beat you.

In public poker, at these medium and lower limits, bluffing isn’t necessary. In fact, it is quite difficult to establish a reputation as a bluffer. That’s because you aren’t playing against the same players at every session.

To become known as a bluffer, logically enough, you have to attempt, and get caught at, several unsuccessful bluffs. That costs money. But before you can really set up your image as a bluffer, two opponents leave for dinner, a third goes broke, and a fourth runs off to catch a plane.

Their places are taken by players who have not seen you bluff, so you have to start the process all over. Very expensive advertising. Another problem with bluffing these people is that they tend to do a lot of calling on seventh street, even if you raise or check-raise.

At these limits, the majority of the time, you must show down the best hand to win, because most hands do go to a showdown.

On the other side of the coin, there is a poker adage which states, “Give the bluffers a chance to bluff.” That means that if you are heads-up against a known bluffer while you are holding a strong, hidden hand, and if you suspect that the bluffer has a weak hand that he won’t call with, don’t bet.

Check, and give him the opportunity to bluff. If he does, you profit at least one bet by calling; and maybe (but doubtful) two by raising but only if he suspects that your raise is bluff.  Only a bluffer would suspect this because of his own propensity to poker bluff.


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