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Seven Card Stud Starting Hand Guide
Starting hands in seven card stud are greatly affected by the cards visible in other player’s hands. They may also be affected by the size of the ante in relation to the initial bets and the tendencies of opponents. This article is a guide to starting hands in seven card stud.
The very best starting hands in seven card stud are trips such as A-A-A or Q-Q-Q, not only do you have a hand that can win the pot unimproved – you have excellent chances to make a full house by 7th street.
High paired hands are also strong. Whether one of the pair is visible to the rest of the table affects the overall strength here. For example K-K-6 with the 6 visible has the added advantage that opponents are unlikely to suspect your hand of improving if you catch a 3rd king on a later street.
Pairs, high or otherwise lose much of their value if the same card is showing in an opponent’s hand. In the above example if both kings were also out then you have less chance of improving to a nut hand – though 2 pairs is still possible.
Smaller pairs can sometimes be playable on 3rd street, any of your cards showing in others hands would indicate a clear fold. However the chance of improving to trips while the betting is small can make it worthwhile playing these hands on the early betting rounds – especially when there are no higher cards showing in the hands of players yet to act.
Three suited cards are also playable in seven card stud. Your chances of making a flush by the river are greatly affected by the number of other cards of the suit that you have seen at the table. With 3 other cards of your suit exposed on 3rd street your chances have diminished to the point where the hand is not usually playable. High suited cards have the added advantage of making pairs (or better) by the river and should be played more often.
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Finally, 3 cards to a straight may be playable in the right circumstances. If the table is not too aggressive (meaning it is cheap to see 4th and 5th streets) and the cards both 1 and 2 places away from yours are not out then these draws should be played.
The size of the ante in relation to the starting bets has a big effect on your starting hand selection in 7 card stud. If the ante is just a tiny proportion then you can afford to wait for a better starting hand as it will not cost too much to fold. If the ante is large then the initial pot may offer you 8-to-1 or better on that first call – in this case you can loosen up a little and attempt to make a strong hand (or draw) early in the betting.
The tendencies of your opponents also have an effect on starting hand selection. For example if an aggressive player with an Ace showing raises you may call with a smaller pair or a 3 flush, since that player is unlikely to have what they are representing. Conversely a tight player raising the same hand might cause you to fold a pair of queens early in the betting.