Monday, October 08, 2007

Stunned (warning: 7-Card Stud talk ahead)

Crazy...I'm posting this from work again. Let's see how long this lasts again. Although I'm pretty sure I still can't comment, being able to post from work would be nice again.

So here's what I typed out to post later tonight, enjoy!

So, despite saying that I wouldn't be able to play as often as I used, I got quite a bit of poker in this past week. Of course, it helps when you call out of work one of those days.

Made some huge progress on my bankroll challenge, working myself up near the $450 mark. Woo hoo! Only $50 until I can start running $10 SNGs. Alas, Full Tilt's RNG had other plans, and I find myself back down just under $400. How did I go on a $75 downswing?

7 Card Stud.

Stud is probably my second favorite poker variation. I've been successful at it so far, and I seem to have a better understanding of the game than most of those at my table when I play. Yet that wasn't enough to counter the donkeys I ran into this weekend. After a $50 upswing earlier in the week, I lost it all & then some after some brutal hands:

1. First, I couldn't win with rolled up threes when someone slowplayed a pair of hidden Aces that became trips. Someone else made trips along the line too. Luckily I didn't go overboard with the betting, but it's hard not to stop the dollar signs from flashing in your eyes when you see rolled trips.

2. Got two bet holding (QQ)Axx on 5th st against JJx showing. Someone else was showing a J so I didn't put him on trips. Paired my A on 6th st and he slowed down to my bet. He two bet me again on 7th st and showed (QQ)JJxx(J). FTP changes the cards sometimes when they're shown, but I'm pretty sure he caught the 3rd J on 7th st. Nice f'n 1-outer

3. Next hand, (JJ)AAxxx is no good against a 6-high straight that filled up on 7th st. Chased all the way hoping for a 6 outer at best. Nice.

4. 3-bet with (K2)K at an aggressive table, only to see the original raiser 4 bet. Someone gets a K on 4th, the other K comes out on 5th, so the best I can hope for is 2 pair. I fold, expecting to see a pair of Aces, at minimum, somewhere. Nope. Instead it's hidden 9s vs hidden Ts that make two pair, tens & twos, for the winning hand.

I know I shouldn't be amazed at how atrocious the play is at these levels - my success is dependent upon it. But when you get a flurry of beats like that (and that was just one sitting), you can't help but get frustrated. I should be at $500, writing a post about how I'm moving on to the next level of my bankroll challenge, and instead, I'm lamenting what could have been.

But, since I'm such a nice guy, and since it seems like there's quite a bit of people who could use even the most basic of 7 Card Stud strategy, I'll post some of my thoughts on the topic this week. Since only 13 people play this game anymore, I doubt I'll get any discussion going, but we'll see. Today, I'll talk about starting hands.

Pairs: I'll play any pair if there's no raise in front of me. I generally don't raise pairs below tens, and I'll call raises with a pair of 8's or above if I have a decent kicker or possible draw. Pairs must be played cautiously because very rarely is one pair good enough to win. Because of this, I recommend limping with pairs a lot more often than you would see in NLHE, even big pairs like AA or KK, especially in multiway pots. Admittedly, I'm a pretty tight Stud player, so I like to get to 5th as cheaply as possible with just one pair, especially in multiway pots.

Straight Draws: I'll raise with a straight draw if I'm 3-connected and my biggest card is showing (i.e (T9)J), but otherwise, I'm usually limping with these as well. I don't like to play gutshot draws unless I'm at a weak-tight table.

Flush Draws: In Stud, I absolutely hate flush draws. Unless you go perfect-perfect through 5th street, you usually end up paying too much to try to hit, and it's usually not worth the few times you get paid. Flush draws are more playable if you have two high cards and one of them is showing; this also gives you a chance to take a pot if you pair your up-card. Otherwise, I really don't play solely flush draws.

Straight & Flush Draws: On the other hand, a hand like (J9)Q sooted I will play very aggressively. I will come in with a raise, maybe even sometimes a 2-bet, wtih a hand like this. It is only a drawing hand, but because of the number of ways to win this hand (straight, flush, pairs, or just plain aggressiveness), I like to bet strongly to start to try and build a pot. If I'm still only on Q high by 6th st, I'll start to slow down, and if I concede the hand, so be it. Sooted connectors are monster hands in Stud, so play them as such, albeit with less gusto if it's something like (45)6.

Rolled Trips: There's probably not a better feeling in Stud then having to bring in with a hand like (44)4. You know that you're probably a favorite to win the hand, and most likely you're going to get paid. With rolled trips you almost have to limp-call because you don't want to chase anyone out. However, the flip side of that, you have to change it up every now & then, and there are some benefits to raising with these hands. In the right circumstances, I recommend raising with even something as strong as (KK)K or likewise, although I'll rarely 2-bet because I want to conceal the strength of my hand to some degree. If you're at a loose table with a lot of high card betting, you might be able to get an extra bet or two, or a check-raise in, if you play your hand like a steal attempt. Anyways, a hand like this is still beatable come 7th street, but because it's so strong to begin with, I think the best strategy is to encourage as much action through 5th street as possible.

Other hands: There aren't many more hands that are playable. Like NLHE, you can get away with stealing pots if it folds to you in position, but I only do that if I'm on (what would be) the button or CO and I have the highest card showing, and I'll do it less often in a cash game vs. tournament play.

Other thoughts: It's really amazing how many people don't take into consideration what cards are showing, or it at least seems like it. A connecting hand like (78)9 might seem playable, but if three 6s & two Ts are showing, you're better off throwing it away. Likewise, if you've got (JJ)2 facing a raise, and you see a J showing elsewhere, get rid of it. This might seem obvious, as I thought it did, but even this concept seems missed on a lot of players.

Next, I'll touch on my betting strategy for 4th & 5th streets.


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