Tips for 7 Card Stud

Poker's one of the mainstays of gambling, and 7 Card Stud is a variant that really rewards players with keen observational skills and a good memory. In 7 Card Stud, each player has their own totally unique hand, with three cards face down and four face up. Here are a handful of tips to get you started and, hopefully, winning.

Tip One - Hands

The hands are ranked identically in 7 Card Stud to other poker variants but there is still a major difference. Except in the rare circumstance of running out of cards, (in which case there's a single community card at the end), every player has an individual hand. This consists of two face down hole cards, four face up cards and a final face down river card (assuming they stay in to the end). The five best cards make the optimal hand. Because every player has a unique hand with no community cards (the exception noted above), things can be a lot more variable in 7 Card Stud. Players can have flushes in different suits. Not only that, community hands in Texas Hold'em (three of a kind appearing on the table, for example) just don't happen in 7 Card Stud. That means you can't be led down a blind alley by having a pair of Aces, seeing three 8s on the table and going in all the way, only to discover your opponent had an 8 and has won a lot of your cash.

Tip Two - Negative Knowledge

Obviously, you want to win. But knowing to fold early if things are going poorly can cut your losses and using your memory well is a crucial tip. In 7 Card Stud there are a lot of face up cards, potentially over half the deck in an eight player game. This gives you, and your opponents, a lot of knowledge not only about what hands they might have, but the cards you cannot get. If you've got pocket 7s and see both the other 7s appear in others' hands, you know you're not getting three of a kind. Folding isn't fun, but it can be smart, so use the extra information you have in 7 Card Stud to your advantage.

Tip Three - the Pot's the Limit

In 7 Card Stud, betting usually occurs with a pot limit (by pre-determined increments, smaller in the first couple rounds of betting and bigger later). You cannot throw down a huge raise to try and intimidate someone into folding (or trick them into thinking you're bluffing). This makes it cheaper to stay in for longer if your hole cards have potential but you haven't hit a hand yet. Because of this, slightly weaker hands can do better in 7 Card Stud than in other types of poker, as players with a low pair, for example, can hang on in there more easily. Just bear in mind your opponents will be doing exactly the same thing.

Sharp eyes are a great asset in 7 Card Stud. Keep them open, and follow the tips above, and, with luck, you stand a good chance of doing well.