The most important decisions in Seven Card Stud are made on Third Street. You must be able to decide whether or not to play a hand and how to play it. Some hands play better in multi-way pots and some in shorthanded pots.
The hands that play well in multi-way pots are drawing hands, like three-flushes, three-straights and combinations of the two. The hands that play well in shorthanded pots are big pairs.
There are a number of issues that should be taken into account when deciding which hands to play.
- What cards are out?
- How many players are in the pot when it is your turn to act?
- Is the table tight or loose?
- How many players are sitting at the table?
- Has the pot been raised? If so, from what player and position?
- What is your position in relation to the raiser (if any)?
One of the most valuable skills in Seven Card Stud is the ability to be very selective about the hands you begin with. The problem with playing too many starting hands is that these mistakes are usually compounded in later betting rounds. For instance, you might start with nothing and end up drawing to something with a hand you should not have been involved with in the first place. Mistakes like these can prove very costly in the long run.
The most important factors to consider are what cards are out and how many players are in the pot. The combination of these two may sometimes make it correct to throw away the best hand on Third Street. For example, in a multi-way pot where you hold (J-J) 7 and both of the other Jacks and one Seven are out, you should fold, even though no one has represented a bigger pair or have bigger upcards than a Jack. The chance of you still holding the best hand when all the cards are out is simply too small to justify calling or raising. You can play this hand when you are in an ante steal position (it is already short handed), or in a multi-way pot when all your cards are live.
And, while it is imperative that you remember what cards are out on Third Street, you must not stop there, as it is also very necessary that you watch the other cards as they are turned up.