While no-limit hold’em has been the most popular poker game by far since Chris Moneymaker won the main even of the World Series of Poker on ESPN in 2003, the game has started to become saturated with players who know enough of the basics to stay out of trouble because of the wide availability of books, television shows, and training websites devoted to the game. Professional players have started looking more and more to other games like seven card stud where recreational players often do not understand the fundamentals, so there is a bigger money advantage which leads to bigger profits. Here we are going to look at the basics of each street in seven card stud, and hopefully you can use this as a starting point to get into the game and make lots of money.
The first round of betting happens on third street where each player has two hole cards and one door card. One basic idea of this street that helps you later in the hand is to make a note of all of the important dead cards so that you can remember them later in the hand if they become important. On third street since you don’t have a five-card hand yet, you basically just have a three-card draw, and you want to try to start getting the money in and building a pot whenever you have a better three-card draw than your opponents. With your draws and even your big pairs, you want to make sure that your cards are “live”, meaning that the cards you need to improve aren’t already dealt to other people as door cards. If you have a heart flush draw, but there are four other hearts dealt out to your opponents, it’s very unlikely that you’ll make your hand.
On fourth and fifth street, you start to develop an actual poker hand. These streets give your hand and your opponents’ hands more of a concrete nature and through the information you get in the first three streets you can usually put your opponent on a pretty decent range by the end of these middle streets. Hand reading and deciding if you’re going to take a hand all the way to the river are what you should be thinking about on these streets since the big bets start on fifth street. Something that is very important on these streets is to stop for a moment and really think hard about how the boards have changed both your holdings and your opponents’ holdings. This information will dictate whether you’re able to play the rest of the hand profitably or not.
On sixth and seventh streets, the big money goes in. Hopefully by this point you have a good idea of your chances in the hand based on your opponents’ boards and betting actions, and have steered the hand in a direction that will be profitable for you. If the pot is large and you make it to seventh street, in general you’ll have to see a showdown because the pot is so large that folding the best hand would be a disaster for your bottom line. The obvious exception to this guideline is if you have a draw of some sort that has totally and completely missed, and there’s no way you can win the hand. Another obvious exception is if you can’t beat your opponent’s board. In these two cases you should always fold.
These basics are enough to have someone who understands the basics of poker in general beating low stakes seven stud games. As you practice seven stud in isolation, you’ll start to pick up the nuances of this particular game while still making plenty of money beating up on small stakes players who make huge mistakes.