Tuesday, October 09, 2007

7-Card Stud Strategy: Betting Early Streets (Pt. 1)

A new record - my 3rd post today! Amazing how productive I am on here when work gives me access to post again. Don't forget to check out my other posts from today.
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I realize that my first post on Stud strategy wasn't necessarily the most in depth. I wanted to get a post like that out first though, because when I talk about my strategy in Stud, I think it's important to understand the kind of hands I play when I'm writing out my thoughts.

Hopefully today's post will be a little more in depth. I'll try not to be too wordy, but I apologize in advance if I am. I hope to provide something insightful, or at least provoke some good discussion, but if you're reading this blog, you know that's not necessarily my forte'. But I'll try my best.

Betting 4th Street

The decision to check or bet on 4th street is an easy one, because in many cases, either decision is a good one. Whether you have just a pair, trips, a huge draw, or the option of c-betting a bluff, there's good arguments for checking & betting. The reason I think that 4th street is relatively inconsequential is for two reasons:

1. A 4th st bet is only 1\2 a bet
2. Most drawing hands & semi made hands are going to call.

A bet on 4th street will not encourage many players to fold, and unless you have a strong hand, you're building a pot that you may not even be a favorite in. A bet on 4th street may help define your hand a bit, but hands that are potential favorites here, such as trips or even some huge draws, aren't going to raise or check-raise you very often on 4th street because it's only 1\2 a bet. Nevertheless, there are some occasions where I will bet out on 4th street, and it's usually dependent on the number of players in the pot.

Large Pot (4 or more players)

Pairs: I'd estimate about 70% of the time, if I'm entering a large pot with a pair, I'm just limping or check-calling, so I'll continue to call or check-call when there's action in front of me. If I'm holding a small pair and 4th st doesn't trip me up or give me additional outs via another connector, then I'll let the hand go. And of course, if I see one of my paired cards dealt to someone else on 4th street, folding your hand to any action before you warrants serious merit.

Trips: Most of the time, I'll treat trips (either rolled or a naked pair with trips underneath) the same way I'd treat a pair. For maximum value, you almost always have to slow play trips on 4th st, although depending on your 4th street card, a bet on 4th street can be useful as well, and it's partly dependent on table image. If you're someone who's been frequently limping pairs or betting 2-pairs on 4th st, or if you're against opponents who overvalue high cards that pair on later streets, then there might be some slight value in building the pot with a bet here, but generally, I think a slow play is the way to go.

Straight Draws: How I bet 4th street with a straight draw depends on two things: position and being open-ended. In early position with 4th st giving me an OESD, not only will I bet, I will also often 2-bet anyone who bets before me (usually if I'm drawing to a higher straight). This does a couple of things:

1. It helps to discourage callers just a little bit more.
2. It helps build the pot in case you hit
3. It can help you steal the pot if you get scare cards on 5th & 6th st
(ex. (98)TJAK or (98)TJJ).

Otherwise, with straight draws that are gutshots, or straight draws that add flush draws to the mix, I'm just calling to see 5th st cheaply.

Flush Draws: IMO, these hands are the easiest to play:

1. If 4th street is a non-sooted blank, fold to any action
2. If 4th street is non-sooted but pairs your top card, fold in EP, call in LP
3. If 4th street is non-sooted but adds straight draws, call up to 2-bets*
4. If 4th street is sooted, call up to 2-bets.

Again, I really hate flush draws in Stud, so I might play this more conservatively than others. From what I've seen, flushes don't get paid off as often through 7th street as other hands do (especially if you've got 3rd-6th sooted), so I'll check-call up to 2 bets if I'm 4-sooted. Otherwise, I'll play these hands either very cautiously or not at all. However, the exception is No. 3, which I'll talk about below.

Straight & Flush Draws: Bet & raise aggressively. In any position. If you're sitting on (9T)J sooted and 4th st brings you a Q, sooted or not, you have too many ways to win the hand not to bet or raise. I'll sometimes 3-bet in this instance, or two-bet with the intent of calling a 4-bet. The only hand that has a lockdown on the pot by 4th st is quads, and I doubt you'll see someone play quads hyperaggressively on 4th st. In addition, a 4-bet on 4th st is equal to 2-bets on 5th st, so it's a good way to build the pot & discourage other callers while not getting too invested in the pot that you can't let do. Sometimes, you'll have to slow down if you brick 5th & 6th st and you're up against a calling station or a boat, but those losses should be counted by the number of times you either get paid off when you hit or steal the pot outright.

Some will probably frown upon playing this aggressively, and instead encourage a slow play or just calling a 2-bet to keep other callers around in case you hit. I'll agree with this to a degree because it's important to mix up your play. I prefer to play these aggressively because of one reason: it's an unmade hand. Some will cite this as a reason to keep the pot small and wait until you have a made hand. Instead, I like to play this as a monster, because it means I can win the pot by either betting other off the pot or getting paid when I call. If you're just check calling an unmade but strong drawing hand, you either have to let it go if you don't hit at some point, or hope you have a strong read on your opponent that you can bluff them off the pot. That story isn't usually as believable as aggressively betting a strong draw early, since you could be just as likely to have trips or 2-pair. Combine that with some scare cards on 5th & 6th street, and you have a better chance of taking down a pot with Q-high & aggressive betting than you do with Q-high and check-calling.

Other Hands: If you're limping with (78)A, (AK)T, or (69)K and you happen to pair any card, tread very lightly. I wouldn't be caught dead with one of those hands in a large pot to begin with, but some do like to play high cards. Your best bet is pairing your naked card on 4th st because then everyone knows you've got at least a high pair. Sometimes you can take down a pot early with just that pair, but overall, I think it's just best to fold the hand early.

Small Pots: (3 players or heads up)

Overall, the same strategy applies, except the aggressiveness of the betting gets amplified in some cases. I'll bet my pairs more aggressively but I'll slow play trips even more. I'll still play the same draws but I won't raise as much with anything but monster draws. Because the pot is potentially smaller with less people, I'm looking to value bet made hands & bet scare cards more than I am trying to build a pot with drawing hands.

I should note that this strategy is more appliable to cash Stud games or early tournament play. The strategy does need to be modified quite a bit, and perhaps I'll touch on that in a later post. For now, I think this is enough; I'll try to get something up tomorrow about 5th street betting.

2 Comments:

At October 9, 2007 at 2:44 PM, Blogger Alan aka RecessRampage said...

Only question is if you have a monster draw, wouldn't it more beneficial to just call instead of raising. You kinda want more callers instead of discouraging players to enter the pot, no?

 
At October 9, 2007 at 4:36 PM, Blogger Matt said...

Alan,

I don't want callers as much as I want to build the pot. I'd prefer to build the pot with 2-3 callers at 3 bets than I would 4-5 callers at one or two bets.

I should expand this to say that I'll 3-bet when I'm EP to MP facing a 2-bet. I doubt a 3-bet from button or the bring in would force out anyone, so in that instance I would just call. But I still would prefer to isolate if I can. It's just too hard to try and take down a pot against multiple players without something near the nuts.

 

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