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Starting Hands

Stud eight-or-better Starting Hands can be grouped into several categories according to how strong they normally are.

Of course, this can change depending on your position, who has acted before you, the action up that point, and so forth.

But in general, the starting hand categories are ranked as follows:

Categories No. 1 and No.2: Rolled-up trips and three cards to a low straight flush.

These are the two best Starting Hands in seven card stud eight-or-better.

Rolled-up trips are discussed later in this section under a separate heading titled “Starting With Three of a Kind Wired.”

Three cards to a low straight flush is played like three small cards to a straight, which is covered in

Category No.4. However, keep in mind that the hand with flush possibilities is much stronger.

Category No.3: Two aces with a low card.

This holding is generally the third best starting hand in stud eight-or-better – even in multiway pots.

However, aces do best in heads-up pots, which means that when you are dealt this hand, you usually should raise or reraise to thin out the field.

Categories No.4 and No.5: Three small cards to a straight and two small cards with an ace.

The value of these two different hands runs fairly close. In a heads-up situation, despite what many people think, both hands are inferior to a high hand – unless it is obvious what the high hand is.

If the high hand is disguised, the player holding it will be able to outplay his opponent and win the larger share of the pots. Remember, we are talking about an advanced player.

A weak player holding the high hand often will not know where he stands, which will allow the low hand to outplay him. he will be made to fold when he shouldn’t and will call to the end those times when he is likely to get scooped.

Many of your opponents will put a great deal of emphasis on three low cards to a straight. These hands are very strong and they do scoop a lot of pots.

However, they do best in multiway pots when the cards needed to fill the open ends are very live and when these hands are not up against many other low hands.

So three low cards to a straight and two low cards with an ace are two of the best Starting Hands, and you frequently should play them strongly – and gamble with them – as long as your low cards are live.

If some of your low cards are dead, then you should play these hands cautiously and be prepared to fold on fourth street if you catch bad and it appears that some of your opponents improve.

The reason these hands do well is that they not only win money when they make a low, but also make other hands – such as two pair, trips, straights, or flushes – that will beat some of the hands played for high.

But these hands also bust out a far amount of time, and not getting away from them quickly is one of the major mistakes that typical players make.

In addition, when playing one of these hands, you can get trapped by catching a rougher card than one of your opponents and discover that you are now against someone who is drawing better than you are.

So in general, you want to have the smallest low hand to draw to; otherwise you will make the second-best low hand too often and will get punished.

Once there are four people in, three low cards to a straight, such as does better than three low cards containing an ace that doesn’t have straight possibilities, such as Even though the latter hand makes two aces or aces up a lot of times, having straight potential frequently will allow you to bet your hand or to raise for value.

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Three low cards containing an ace won’t get as much play, especially when you catch another ace – the game’s premier scare cards which often slows the action.

When you start with three low straight cards and then catch an ace, you usually will have at least the best low draw and frequently a wheel draw. This will enable you to play with confidence, which translates into aggressive betting and raising.

In a heads-up situation, these two types of hands do about the same (although it is slightly better to hold two small cards and an ace).

It depends on the player you are against and the live cards. An aggressive player will do better with the ace hand, and a passive player will do better with three low straight cards.

A surprisingly good hand against a small number of opponents is if you are against a high hand, the 6 7 8 can escape for low as easily as But it is also easier for the 6 7 8 to make a high hand.

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The winning high hand may be medium pair or a hand like eights up – which might escape for high, especially if the pot is short-handed.

One of the nice things about this hand is that it can be improved by two additional fourth-street cards that cause most other three-card low hands to bust out.

Note that the 2 3 4 needs an eight or lower on fourth street, whereas the 6 7 8 can use ten or lower.

Category No.6: The best high hand on board. The best high hand out is another good starting hand. An example would be two kings or two queens, providing that this is the best pair.

Holding an ace with either of these hands makes them even better, although having an ace is not necessary.

When playing what you think is the best high hand, it is very important that your cards are “live.” Too often, low hands turn into two small pair.

So a high hand going against one or more low hands must be very live to reduce the chances that it gets beat by two small pair.

Obviously, if you hold two aces and a high card, you probably have the best high starting hand. In this case, you would prefer to have one of the aces up.

This is because when one ace is showing, your opponents likely will figure you for a low hand, which may allow you to win the pot on a later round if you catch more threatening low cards.

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Introduction / Starting Hands / Three of a Kind Wired

Disguising Your Hand / Ante Stealing / Getting Reraised on a Semi-Steal

When an Ace Raises / When the Bring –In Raises


Basic Strategy

Advanced Strategy

Additional Advanced Concepts

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