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SEVEN-CARD STUD EIGHT-OR-BETTER - PART 3


by: Lou Krieger

Desirable starting hands are usually two-way hands. Get lucky with them and you can scoop a big pot. This generally means starting with low hands that can also go high. Low hands can swing high with some degree of luck, but high hands don’t swing low very often. If youstart with a hand like 6-5-3 you’re on your way to a good low, but with a bit of luck you might also make a straight that can take the high side. Three low, suited cards — especially three low suited cards with an ace — can make a low hand as well as an ace-high flush. But try starting with three high cards and see how difficult it is to go low. After all, if you were dealt Q-J-T, you’ve got a straight working, but how are you ever going to make a low hand and scoop? Well you can’t. It’s that simple. But that doesn’t mean you can’t ever play high cards. You can. But you have to consider the situation very carefully.

Suppose you’re last to act, and by the time it’s your turn the only callers so far are showing low cards, and not one of them is an ace. You, most likely, are the only player going high. That doesn’t mean you’ll wind up as the lone high hand. One of your opponents could have been dealt wired low cards, and his three-of-a-kind puts him far ahead of you for high, and at this point you don’t have a clue about the direction he’s heading in. But starting wired is rare, and on third street you might as well ignore the possibilities — since your opponent won’t give you a clue at this early juncture.

While low looking hands can sometimes be deceptive, it’s tough for a high hand to wrap itself in a disguise. After all, if you call with a jack showing, you either have the worst possible low hand, or you are going high. You could be going high with a pair, a straight draw, or a flush draw. Your opponents won’t know that, but they will know where you’re headed, and that’s more important.

Since you won’t generally have any disguise built into your hand when you’re going high, when can you safely play one-way high hands? If all of your opponents are working on low hands, and you have a good high hand working, go ahead and play it. Unless one of your opponents makes a low straight or a flush, chances are your high hand will hold up. If you both make two pair, yours will take the high side. If you both catch three-or-a-kind, you’ll win with ease — unless, of course, his are aces. But these are rarities, and you are getting the right price to gamble, when you are the only player going high and you are up against two or more opponents who are looking to make the best low.

You can also go for the high end when you are up against one opponent who looks like he is working on a low hand. The reason for this ought to be obvious. If you have even so much as a high pair on third street, you are favored. After all, you have a hand. Your opponent, particularly if he starts off with a Razz-type low — where making a straight is just about impossible — is still drawing. There’s no guarantee your opponent will make a low. He might start off with four wheel cards and catch three bricks in a row and never take the low side. This, after all, is a perfect situation. You will either take the whole pot or split it; while your opponent — unless he is fortunate enough to make a two way hand or back into a high hand split the pot or lose it.

If you are going to draw for a low hand, you’d ideally like to be up against a bunch of high hands — a guarantee that you’ll take half the pot if you make a low. You seldom want to compete with a bunch of low hands for half the pot against a lone high hand.

Another time it pays to go high, regardless of how many opponents you are up against, is when you start with a powerhouse hand. If you were dealt wired jacks, for example, you shouldn’t mind any number of opponents who also appear to be going high. You already have three-of-a-kind, along with a good likelihood of improving to a full house or better. In situations like these, you are heavily favored, and you ought to exploit it for all it’s worth by betting and raising at every opportunity, unless you think one of your opponents might have caught up with you. Even so, when you start off with high wired cards you will be in that hand until the bitter end — or until sweet salvation rescues you from the brink of bad-beat oblivion.

7 Card Stud Articles by Lou Krieger

This is where you can find all articles relating to 7 Card Stud.

Introduction to 7 Card Stud - Part 1 / Part 2 / Part 3 / Part 4 / Part 5 / Part 6 / Part 7

An Ace and an Action Button - 7 Card Stud is often played with an Action Button learn more.

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