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Seven Card Stud for Professionals

The first key to playing Seven Card Stud effectively is to make sure you consider all of the possible hands at the table. It is very easy for amateur players to get so fixated on (and enthused by) their own hand that they totally ignore the possibility of another player having an even better one. This kind of ignorance can be incredibly costly, and being aware of what others could be holding in the heat of poker battle is essential if you want to become an advanced player.

Consider Your Hand

Another important skill you must develop is in knowing when your hand truly merits a raise and not just a call. Many beginners routinely over-play their hands and thereby end up investing more than they ought to for the cards they have. For example raising with a pair of picture cards early in a game is not usually a good idea because it, a) scares off players who don't even have that, and b) invites a re-raise from players with a stronger hand. By waiting until your hand develops before raising you will save yourself money on losing hands and stand a greater chance of reeling in players with lesser hands when you're onto a real winner.

It is essential to think about your hand from the perspective of your opponents before deciding whether to call or bet in a particular round. Consider the cards that your opponents can see, and what that might lead them to believe. If you have raggy up-cards and you bet, most people will put you on a pair or a drawing hand. With one good up-card you are potentially more dangerous, and with two good up-cards your psychological advantage is even greater.

If you ever decide to re-raise, do look for a response in your opponent. If your opponent thinks long and hard about calling your re-raise, the chances are that they were trying to bluff you out of the pot with a drawing hand. If they call you without batting an eyelid, they probably aren't bluffing. Of course, advanced players who are aware of the unspoken signals they give out can use that information to try and lead you astray (by calling fast with a bluff, for example) so once again a knowledge of your opponents is worth its weight in gold.

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Playing Your Hand

When you have a good hand, play it slowly. Let your opponents contribute to the pot for a while and build it up, then go in for the kill when you're sure you have them beat. The only exception to this is when you have a high pair early in the game and you want to scare your opponents off to seal an early win.

Never loosen your strategy just because you are playing for low stakes. This is a sure way to remain firmly in amateur territory. Professional Seven Card Stud players adhere to a sound strategy whether playing for pennies, pounds or hundreds of pounds.

Always remember that high cards have the edge in a regular game of Seven Card Stud. There is little point in drawing two or three for a low straight if someone else is going to have a higher straight. Drawing for a modest pair is also fairly pointless. Fold raggy hands in order to save your money for when you have something with genuine winning potential.

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