Judgement is key in seven card stud poker, and knowing when to throw in the towel or amp up the aggression is a key skill.
For example, if you find yourself sitting on a high card like an ace or a king within the first three cards, you should almost certainly stay in the game. However, instead of going in guns blazing, it is better to play it steady and call bets rather than raising wildly.
Alternatively, if you find yourself sitting on a high pair within the first three cards, it is best to go in full throttle, bet aggressively and try and capitalize on the strength of your hand by knocking opponents out of the game early.
If you have been dealt turkey cards in the first couple of rounds, it might be best to fold your hand as the chances of securing a win with a three card hand are minimal.
If you have a three card hand that matches in sequence or suit but is contradicted by a clashing fourth card, you may still choose to fold the hand.
Similarly, players sitting on potentially strong early hands such as a high pair in the hole may choose to fold, call or raise in response to the actions of other players and the strength of the visible cards on the table.
Playing it loose
Many seven card stud poker players tend to play the game ‘loosely.’ Loose poker play involves playing as many hands as possible, betting big, taking risks and rolling with the streets.
Loose poker play is a risky strategy, especially when it comes to seven card stud. Because loose seven card stud players tend to play more hands, raise bets, make bluffs and take gambles, loose poker play is by its nature a more reckless approach.
Despite the potential for disaster, playing it wild and loose can have benefits at the seven card stud table. As a playing tactic, loose play can add unpredictability to your game, eliminate weaker players from the table, take advantage of flukes and betting gaps and expose the tells of opponents.
Playing it tight
Tight poker play is the opposite of loose play. Playing it ‘tight’ involves approaching each betting round in a cautious and conservative manner.
This could include playing defensively, regularly checking your hand, playing as few hands as possible and only playing aggressively when you are certain you have an unbeatable hand or that the odds are in your favor.
If you are playing seven card stud poker to make money, you may decide to employ a tight playing strategy in order to minimize loss, maximize earning potential and boost your chances of surviving each street.
Here are a few basic tips to keep in mind if you are developing a seven card stud poker strategy based around tight play:
- Only take risks if you cannot avoid them
- Only play strong hands
- Don’t be afraid to check
- Don’t be afraid to fold
- If possible, only play hands that you are certain are the strongest at the table
- Avoid confrontation and emotional play
- Be patient and play the long game
- When you are not participating in a betting round, use the time to study the betting patterns of other players
- Know when to strike, and don’t miss your opportunity when it comes
Playing it fast and slow
As well as knowing how to respond to bets and streets and knowing when to raise and fold, a crucial component of any seven card stud poker playing strategy is knowing how ‘fast’ or ‘slow’ to play your hand.
This is somewhat of an extension of loose and tight play, and your speed of play should match the looseness of your general playing strategy.
As a general rule, it is best to play in line with the speed of the game. For example, in a chaotic and unpredictable game with many players throwing bets around, it is usually best to play fast and hard in order to maintain momentum and keep up with the pace of the betting rounds.
The best time to play hands slowly is when you are sitting on a highly valuable hand that you do not want to expose to other players. If you are certain that you are sitting on the most valuable hand at the table, you may choose to call in early rounds and save your aggression for later rounds when the pot is more valuable.
If you have already exposed yourself with telegraphed betting behaviour and strong hand displays, you may choose to hold back and slow-play your hand until the third street, when your opponents will be more unaware and open to clear-ups.
As a general rule, it is better to hold back on raising until the fifth and sixth streets. The betting round in which you decide to strike can depend on various factors including pot value, the number of players and the betting patterns of your opponents.