1. The Rules of 7 Card Stud Poker
7 Card Stud is a single-deck poker game for 2-7 players. Throughout a hand, each player will received 7 cards; hence the name. The first two are dealt face down, the next four face up, and the final card down. Throughout all of this, five betting rounds, or streets, will take place. Assuming there are two or more players still standing past the fifth street (i.e. everyone hasn’t folded), a showdown of hands determines the winner.
That’s the short version. If you aren’t entirely familiar with the game, I implore you to read the full version, previously penned by one of our top editors. It includes a complete, step-by-step summation of the rules, streets, and the game’s fixed limit betting structure with antes.
Once you’ve got the foundation down, it’s time to move on…
2. Starting Hands: What’s worth investing in?
One of the biggest questions is which starting hands (first 3 cards) are worth investing in? And if a hand is worthy, how much should you invest? As with so many aspects of poker, it’s a situational thing.
Big Pairs (JJ+) are a great start, especially against 1-2 active opponents, but they lose a lot of value against a larger field. The more people you’re up against, the more likely someone is to hit a draw hand (straight or flush). In a short-handed situation, you can feel confident investing in a big pair. Even if it doesn’t improve, you have a good shot at turning the best hand at showdown.
In a crowd of bettors/raisers, suited and connected cards are more valuable to start. They won’t often connect, but the more players that are actively contributing to the pot, the more you stand to profit when the cards fall in your favor. Just don’t bet the house on it.
3. Recognize Dead Hands: Know when to fold ‘em.
A dead hand is one that no longer has enough outs to be worth playing. If you start out with a 3-card flush in hearts, and by the second street, there are 5 other hearts facing up, that’s a lot of missed opportunities. Half of your outs are gone, therefore the hand is considered dead.
4. Consider the Nuts: Who’s got the goods?
As the streets progress, keep a close eye on what everyone else is showing. What are their best possible hands? Are their bets representing that hand? If not, what range would you put them on? Consider what hands you would be willing to take the same action on, and decide whether you think they have it? Which brings us to…
5. Power of Observation: Are you taking notes?
The more you observe an opponent, the more information you can learn about them. Maybe you have similar traits. Maybe they play a tighter or looser game than you do. They might bet more passively or aggressively in different situations. Pay enough attention, and you’ll soon be able to put each player on a hand range according to their situational betting patterns. It’s much easier to make smart, valuable decisions when you can accurately predict the hand range of each opponent.
You may think it’s impossible to remember this much information about each and every opponent, but that’s just one glorious aspect of playing poker online. You can sit back and take notes on everyone. A lot of poker sites even provide note-taking software within the game. If not, pull up a Notepad file, or use old-fashioned pen and paper.
6. Psyche!: When is it okay to bluff?
Bluffing is not something I recommend doing often. However, it is a great weapon to keep in reserve. The best time to use it is when you are dealt the perfect scare card.
Let’s say you’ve got an Ace in the door. You didn’t pair it in the hole, but you’ve got J-Q underneath, so you felt comfortable posting the bring-in, and calling the three others who took action. Two streets later, nothing has matured, but two other players are showing small pairs. They don’t have enough suits or connectors to beat trips, and if they do have trips, they’re low. With all of this information in tow, your sixth card is an Ace.
All you have is a pair of Aces, which – as stated previously – is no good against 3 or more opponents. Normally, this would be the time to throw your hand in. Or, you can represent another Ace in the hole for Trips. This is your time to shine! Bet, Raise, Re-Raise – do everything in your power to let them know you just beat them. If you can make it expensive enough, few would risk following you to a showdown.
You have to read your own hand as if it belongs to someone else; as if you don’t know what’s underneath. If your opponents could sees your latest card as a scare card, you have to decide whether it’s worth representing the nuts. And remember, the less often you bluff, the more likely you are to succeed when you do.
7. Chasing Outs: The good, the bad, and the ugly…
We always hear that chasing outs is a bad idea. In many circumstances, that’s true. You wouldn’t take an King-high 4-card inside straight to seventh street. That’s crazy! But what if you already had a pair of Kings, it’s an outside straight draw, and only 2 outs are showing? A hand like this has far more potential. You have 6 outs to hit the straight. Any missing Kings are also outs. Hitting a second pair could be helpful…
This is where experience really comes into play. Even if you know you don’t have the better hand, it could be worth chasing those outs. If you’re counting the cards, you know your odds. At a 5-seat table, you’ve got 8 hole cards unseen, plus whatever remains in the deck. If there are 15 cards left, plus the 8 unseen, and you’re still searching for 9 outs, that’s a 39% (9 in 23) chance of a hit.
If, based on observed evidence, you honestly think hitting one of those outs will give you the best hand, and you’ve already invested enough money for it to be worth the action, the right choice is to continue.
As I said, this is where experience comes into play. In a situation like this, a precise answer requires you to calculate pot odds. This is an advanced tactic, but well worth exploring if you really want to know how to win 7 Card Stud online and cash out for a regular profit.