For almost the whole past decade, no-limit Texas hold’em has been the most popular game for both tournament and cash game play. Because of the prolonged popularity of this game, there are tons of books and television shows devoted to hold’em, and a lot of people, even online nickel and dime players, know the basics of the game. The popularity of no-limit hold’em has also brought in tons of new players to poker, who have branched off to the other games as well. As more people learn no-limit hold’em strategy, the more difficult it becomes to make a profit in the game, so the players looking to make a profit have the option of switching to other games where players new to poker in general won’t have so much knowledge of the basics. A great game for this purpose is seven card stud, and a well-timed transition from no-limit hold’em to fixed-limit seven stud could bring huge profits for a player who knows the fundamentals of the game.
No-limit hold’em and seven card stud share some similarities in the format but also have some small differences. On the first round of betting, each player is dealt two hole cards face down that only they can see in both games. However, each player also has a board to their own instead of one set of board cards that everyone shares. This means that seven stud has added information for hand-reading that hold’em doesn’t have, so the profitable player making the transition to this game will need to take a little more time to examine the boards when hand-reading instead of just relying on the betting decisions his opponent has made and what he knows about his opponent like you do in hold’em.
The other major difference between the two games that the hold’em player will need to adjust to is the betting format. On 3rd street instead of blinds there are antes and what’s called a bring-in. The bring-in is like a blind in that it’s a forced bet, but the player will the lowest hole card makes this bet and play continues to the left. Typically the bring-in will be about one-third the size of the small bet, and the antes will be about one-half the size of the bring-in. So if you have a $10/20 game, the bring-in might be about $3 or $3.50 and the antes might be about $1.50 each. The structures will vary a little from game to game, but this is the general rule.
The fixed-limit betting of stud is a bit different than the no-limit betting used in most of today’s hold’em games. Instead of being able to bet and raise however much you want, 3rd and 4th street bets and raises have to be based on what’s called the small bet, while the bets and raises on 5th street, 6th street and 7th street are in increments of what’s called the large bet. If a stud game is said to be $10/20, that means the small bet is $10 while the big bet is $20. The main difference when going from a no-limit game into a fixed-limit game is that you’ll tend to see more multi-way pots since the price is so small compared to the pot to stay in the hand on the early streets. The hands also take longer to play out because of this difference in betting structures because seven stud has five betting rounds while hold’em only has four. This gives the profitable player one more street to push an edge that you wouldn’t normally have in hold’em, which makes up for some of not being able to bet as much at one time.
In general, if you follow these guidelines and keep in mind the small rule differences, you’ll be able to follow the instincts you’ve built during your time playing no-limit hold’em and still do well in the seven stud games against weak competition.