Due to its double-handed nature, this game requires a lot more concentration and cursory examination than most. I do not recommend jumping into 7CS-8B without a substantial background in poker. You should be highly familiar with both of its high and low variants before you begin. Of course, the merged version requires some adaptation to strategy. Here are some important tips to help you along.
All or Nothing
I’ve read so many strategy books and online guides that say, because this is two games in one, you should play any starting hand that has good potential to win the high or low hand. I (and a few dozen pros who know better) say it’s “all or nothing”.
If you don’t have the potential to win both hands, you probably shouldn’t play it at all. The problem with playing for one hand is that you’re betting into a full pot, with the hopes of winning just half. So, if you can’t win it all, invest nothing.
The best starting hands that you should always play are:
• Three low cards including an Ace
• Three low suited cards
• Three low connectors (ex. 2-3-4, 3-4-5, 4-5-6)
These hands have the potential to make a straight, flush, or at least an Ace-high, plus a qualifying low hand. Remember, scooping is the ultimate goal!
When to Go High Only
There are only two scenarios when you should invest in a hand that only qualifies to win the high pot. The first is when you honestly believe you have the best high hand, based on all the evidence on the board. The second is when you have a good high hand – one you’d consider worthy of chasing with in a 7CS High – and the door cards indicate no one is qualifying low.
When to Go Low Only
If you had a good starting hand (see All or Nothing above), but the connectors stopped connecting, or the suits dried up, but the low hand is still there. You may have good reason to continue. Look around at the board. If no one else appears to be qualifying for a low hand, or if it’s obvious no one can beat yours, you might as well bank half the pot on it.
Raising with Ace Up
If someone has an Ace showing and posts a raise, you better be able to beat a pair of Aces on the high end. As for the low, see what else he’s showing. Unless you know you have his low hand beat, you’re better off folding. The only time to disregard such a show of strength is if you know this player to misrepresent. In the same token, you can use an Ace up as a good scare card to raise, so long as you haven’t been labeled a bluffer yourself.