General concepts

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Tournament Play

Strategy to play exposed cards

One of the most important aspects of stud poker strategy is adjusting your play for the cards that are exposed in the other player’s hands. 

This, of course, includes the cards that were folded as well as those that are still out against you. For instance, it would be crazy to play a pair of 5s in seven-card stud if two other 5s were exposed.

In this essay, I will give some examples of how a poker player’s chances for improvement change quite dramatically depending on how many of their cards are gone and how many cards are exposed altogether.

The second factor is quite important. As an example, a three-flush on your first three cards in seven-card stud will make a flush 18 percent of the time, assuming no other cards are seen.

Now suppose exactly one of your seven opponents show a card in your suit. What does this do to your chances of making a flush?

If you said that they have increased, I congratulate you. You realized that the remaining deck has slightly more of your suit left proportionally than if you had seen no cards at all.
            Now let’s look at some examples:

  1.     In seven-card stud you have in your first five cards:

You have seen ten other cards. Your chances of making the flush can be seen from the following table:

Number of Spades Seen Chance for Flush (%)
0 43.2
1 39.0
2 34.7
3 30.2
4 25.5

   2.    You have:

on your first four cards of seven-card stud. You have seen eight other cards:

Number of 5s & 10s Seen Chance for Straight (%)
0 49.8
1 44.8
2 39.4
3 33.8

  3.     You start with:

on your first three cards of seven-card stud. You have seen seven other cards:

Number of 5s & Aces Seen Chance for Aces up or Trips (%)  (or better including at least one five or ace)
0 41.0
1 34.1
2 26.5

  4.       You start with:

on your first three cards of seven-card stud. You have seen seven other cards.

Number of Spades Seen Chance for Flush (%)
0 23.6
1 19.6
2 15.8
3 12.3
4 9.1

   5.       You start with:

on your first four cards in seven-card razz (lowball). You have seen ten other cards. 

Number of 5-8s Seen  Chance for an Eight Low or Better (%)
0 81.8
1 79.0
2 76.0
3 72.7
4 69.2
5 65.3
6 61.2
7 56.7
8 51.9

The above chart depicts the number of 5s, 6s, 7s, and/or 8s seen and the opportunities of making an eight low or better.  (“Eight-or-better” hi-low split players should make careful note of the above chart.)

As a contrast, take these same first four starting cards with 10 other cards seen in regard to making a seven low or better:

Number of 5-7s Seen Chance for seven low  Or better (%)
0 69.2
4 51.9
8 29.1

I think these charts have made it clear how important it is to pay close attention to the cards that are exposed before you decide how (and whether) to play your hand.

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