Seven-card stud is an extremely complicated game. How complicated is it? Well, it is so complicated that it is probably impossible for any book written on the subject to be truly complete.
This is simply because there is an almost infinite number of unique situations that can occur, each requiring separate analysis. Consequently, even though you are about to read solid guidelines to winning, strategies given are not set in concrete, and under certain conditions, the best strategies occasionally may differ slightly from what is recommended.
This being noted, rest assured that what follows is a very strong winning approach. If it weren't, we would not be in a position to write this book simply because we would be broke and standing on the rail.
In the past, little information has been available on seven-card stud. Even though the game is widely played, few authors have attempted to attack it. This is probably for the best, because the large amount of erroneous and silly information/advice that seems to dominate poker literature has not infiltrated seven-card stud.
This book basically teaches a tight but aggressive approach. However, we will be recommending that you play more hands than you might have expected (though we will tell you to throw away some surprising hands as well). This is partly because we are addressing advanced players. If you are new to stud, even if you are experienced at another form of poker, you probably will want to play somewhat tighter and more conservatively than what the text indicates. However, with experience, you can completely follow our guidelines to play seemingly loose at times.
All great seven-card stud players have a "feel" for the game, and extensive experience. In truth, becoming an expert seven-card stud player, even with the help of this book, will not be easy. However, will a great deal of time and effort, it can certainly be accomplished.
Keep in mind that the strategies which follow are designed for the medium limit games, most specifically the $ 15-$ 30 limit with a $ 2 ante and $ 5 low card bring-in, up through the $ 30-$ 60 limit with a $ 5 ante and $ 10 low card bring-in. But they will be valuable for many other limits as well. However, don't jump into a large limit game after a quick reading of this book. As one of the authors (Ray) likes to say, "You will get killed." At the higher limits, you will run into many expert players who easily can manipulate someone new to the game into making many costly mistakes. Conversely, in the smaller games, many of the sophisticated plays used to manipulate opponents into making errors do not work, as your opponents are not aware enough to be tricked. In spite of this, many of the ideas in this text will help you at the smaller games while you work your way up to the bigger ones. As for the bigger games where players are capable of thinking at many different levels, studying the information in this book-gaining a great deal of experience and doing some hard thinking about the game-is the only way to guarantee success.
The original version of this text was written in 1989. Since then, stud has grown in popularity, as all poker has, but not at the rate at which hold'em has grown. However, for highlimit players, it is still the game of choice. On the East Coast it is the most popular form of poker. Likewise, many good games exist in other locations throughout the country.
This twenty-first century edition has been substantially expanded. We did this for several reasons, but the most important reason for the change was to help aspiring stud players approach the game from a proper perspective. You see, stud is not only a difficult game to play at an expert level, it is also a difficult game to teach well. We felt that additional material was needed to make expert play accessible to more people.
We also wanted to address loose games at a much deeper level. Because of the poker explosion that has taken place throughout the country during the past decade, numerous new players are at the tables, and many of them have come to "gamble." Thus many games have become much looser. You should find some of the advice that we give in this area to be surprising, but be assured that it is accurate, nut that these are
We also want to point out that medium and high limit seven card stud is accompanied by a great deal of short-tem luck. The effect of this is that the bad player, who originally stays away from seven-card stud because the game appears too complicated, might become attracted to it since he discovers that he can win more often than in some of the other forms of poker. Thus stud games have the potential to be good for a very long time, and many veteran players literally give their money to the experts.
We also want to pause for a moment and thank those people who helped us put this 21st Century Edition together. These include Irving Sklansky for his dedicated editing; Charmaine Dadian for her help in production and proofreading; Dave Clint for his superb art work and cover design; and Lynne Loomis for her many contributions and original editing of the previous edition. Without their help, this text would not meet the high standards that we set out to achieve.
Why Play Seven-Card Stud
There is one overriding reason to play seven-card stud rather than other games. It is simply that stud games tend to be very good. Why is this so? It probably has something to do with the fact that most tourists are familiar with it, and are thus more likely to sit down at a stud table. Another reason is that the large short-term luck factor in this form of poker attracts the bad players, as they are able to make some pretty decent scores every now and then, even though they will go broke in the long run. Whatever the reason, seven-card stud games are consistently better than any other form of poker, particularly in the bigger games. The real expert almost always can find a stud game where his winning expectation is quite high.
But the large short-term luck factor, caused mainly by the fact that it is easier to "draw out" on the best hand than it is in a game like hold'em, needs to be addressed. Most seven-card stud professionals talk about the "roller coaster ride" that they often seem to be on. Specifically, the large standard deviation inherent in this game requires a fairly large bankroll to ensure survival. Exactly how large your bankroll to ensure survival. Exactly how large your bankroll should be is the subject of a major section in Gambling Theory and Other Topics by Mason Malmuth. (Suffice it to say that many professionals are probably playing stakes where their bankrolls are in jeopardy.)
Also, keep in mind that there are two main reasons why you win money at stud. The first is that some of your opponents play badly and, in extreme cases, literally give their money away. The second is that this form of poker provides numerous opportunities for the expert player to make expert plays and extract additional money from his weaker-playing opponents. We are not referring
In areas where poker is new, the stud games may not be as good as the hold'em games, especially at the middle limits and below, but they should still be pretty good to merely bluffs. Rather, these expert plays allow you to gain an extra bet here and there, or perhaps to save a bet. In addition, optimal strategy may "save" you the pot by occasionally knocking out the best hand, or the potentially best hand. The expert player does a much better job of evaluating the value of his hand than does the typical player. We shall see that many factors, besides the cards that you hold, determine how strong your hand really is.
Remember, seven-card stud can be a rewarding game, but it also can be very frustrating. Stud hasn't grown as fast as other forms of poker, notably Texas hold'em. But at the time of this writing, there are many games available throughout the United States, and it is the most popular game on the East Coast and in many European countries. So what's the bottom line? It is that if you become an expert at this form of poker, you should do very well indeed. But you won't become a champion overnight. It will take lots of study and playing experience, and, as just mentioned, will be frustrating at times. In fact, it will take longer to master stud than virtually any other form of poker. But it is also more fun to play than most other poker games "spread" in casinos, so trying to master this game at an advanced level is a goal well worth striving for.