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7 Card Stud Poker Strategy

Seven Card Stud is a HIGH card game. More winning hands are decided by the highest pair of two pair or just the highest pair, than by straights, flushes and other big hands. So if you start with a straight or flush draw, it should have at least two high cards or at least one card that is higher than anything up on the board. These draw hands and low pair starting hands need to improve or turn a high pair quickly to justify continued play. Any time your high hand is beaten on the board, fold, unless you think you still have the best draw hand. Fast play early high hands ( that could win without improvement) to thin out the competition. Slow play draw hands to keep other players in to increase the pot odds in case you hit.

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HIGH CARDS - 10 thru A .
LOW CARDS - 2 thru 9
SPLIT PAIR - Starting hand with one of your pair cards down and the other up.
CONCEALED PAIR - Starting hand with both of your pair cards in the hole and your side card kicker up.
DOOR CARD - The exposed upcard of a starting hand.
DEAD CARDS - Cards that have been revealed and no longer in the deck.
FAST PLAY - Bet, raise and re-raise to get as many other players out as possible.
SLOW PLAY - Just check and call along to keep other players in the game and increase the pot odds.
CHECK-FOLD - Check when you can and fold if you are bet into. Gladly accept all free cards offered.

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Playable Starting Hands:
HIGH TRIPS - (AAA down to 101010). Fast play these. Your opponents will put you on a high pair.
LOW TRIPS - (999 down to 222). Slow play until your 5th street bet. Keep 'em guessing.
HIGH PAIR - (AA, KK, QQ, JJ, 1010). Fast play these, split or concealed, if they are not overcarded on the board. Try to narrow the field and play fast until threatened by a higher hand.
LOW PAIR/ High Kicker - Slow play split or concealed low pairs with a kicker that is higher than any upcard on the board. Fold this hand if two or more of your key cards are dead. Check-fold if you don't get trips or two pair on the next card.
CONCEALED LOW PAIR/ No High Kicker - Slow play for trips on 4th street. Fold if one or both of your pair cards are dead. Check-fold if you don't make trips or two pair on the next card.
HIGH OVERCARDS - Two or three high cards that are higher than anything on the board. Slow play and check-fold if they don't make a high pair on the next card.
HIGH 3 CARD FLUSH - (2h 10h Kh). Must have at least two high cards. Fold if three or more cards of your suit are dead. Slow play and check-fold if you don't make a four card flush or a high pair on the next card.
HIGH 3 CARD STRAIGHT - (9 10 J ) to Q K A). Slow play and check-fold if you don't make a four card straight or a high pair on the next card.
ANY 3 CARDS TO A STRAIGHT FLUSH - (5d 7d 9d). Fold if four or more of your key straight and flush cards are dead. Slow play and check-fold if you don't make any four cards to a straight or a four card flush.

Strategy Tips:
When you start with a high pair, fast play to eliminate as many players as possible.

Slow play starting draw hands like three to a straight or a flush. You want to keep other players in to build the pot odds.
Slow play starting trips until the fifth card. You want some players around with this powerful starting hand.
Usually don't begin with a small pair unless they are concealed or your sidecard can beat the board.

Don't play three to a low straight or a low flush.
Watch the board closely for key cards that can seriously diminish your chances of making a good hand and for opponents hands that look dangerous. Play cautiously and fold out early if it looks like the tide is turning against you.

Beware of the paired door card. If an opponent is playing a pair in his starting hand, and pairs his door card (first upcard), the odds are two out of three that the door card is part of his pair. A paired door card presents a strong possibility that the holder has a dangerous set of trips.
Unless you are playing a strong draw hand, usually fold if your complete hand is beaten on the board by an opponent's upcards.

Try to find reasons to fold both your starting hands and those that develop on the later streets. Look for a dead card in the denomination that you need and for two or three dead cards in the suit that you are drawing to. Look for too much strong competition developing for the winning hand. When you can't find reasons to fold, you can then proceed aggressively..

Study your opponents, especially when you are not playing hands and can pay careful attention. Do they find more hands to play than they fold? Do they bluff? Can they be bluffed? Do they have any "tells" (give away mannerisms) that disclose information about their hands etc.

Get caught bluffing once in a while. It is a way to vary your play and not be too predictable. You win pots that you don't deserve when your bluff works. You lose a few chips when it doesn't work but it will get you calls from weaker hands down the line when you are really strong and need the action.

The first four cards are the major key to winning at Seven Card Stud games. If your starting hands develop according to plan, you can be a strong favorite to win. If they don't, you get out early and escape the expensive second best experience. The three card starting hands recommended above are those with the best chance of producing a dominant four card hand. Good four card hands that are carefully played don't always win but they win a lot more than the others