Stud Poker Strategy - Changing Gears
I was playing $5/10 Stud at Party Poker. Most of the time, when I sit down in a $5/10 game, it's a pretty loose and passive experience. Everyone or nearly everyone calls the $2.00 bring-in. If someone raises, at least a few people go with him to Fourth Street.
I've developed a strategy for beating that game. I pretty much call with many strictly drawing hands - low pairs, even one gapped straights, low 3-Flushes, even a hand with just an Ace and a King - especially if they're in the hole. I figure that I'm getting great implied odds if I hit my hand. If I don't hit my hand on Fourth or Fifth - assuming the betting on Fourth is light or non-existent - then I fold to any betting pressure.
It's served me well all these years. I win at about the rate of four big bets an hour in this type of soft $5/10 game. It is literally the game that funded my budding poker career and gave me the knowledge to write my book on the game,Winning 7-Card Stud.
But I quickly noticed that this $5/10 game was different from my usual fare. The players were not all calling along on Third Street for the bring-in. There were three players who were very aggressive - typically taking turns raising on Third Street with scare cards.
Also, the rest of the table was not loose at all. These raises would, typically, win the antes and the bring-in. Few pots, if any, were contested beyond Fifth. Most were decided by Fourth and many decided right there on Third Street when everyone folded to the raise.
I had to change gears. If I just called along I'd gradually lose my stack, as I wouldn't be getting the right price for those long-shot draws - and my calls would not be justified.
So I became more aggressive myself - without the ammunition I'd normally need but knowing that I'd meet with little resistance in this timid field. I raised with scare cards and even re-raised the frequent raisers even if I had little to back it up. I found myself overwhelming the table and winning many uncontested pots.
But then two things happened simultaneously - both of which required that I change gears again. The ultra-tight players started to loosen up some when I raised. And a couple of the very aggressive players left the game - I guess going for softer pastures with a less aggressive line up of players.
I found that I wasn't able to steal or re-steal antes any longer - at least not with the same ease. And I found that more players tended to call the bring-in - making it even less likely that my raise would win the antes.
Simply put, the conditions that had given rise to my new gear had changed, requiring another gear. So I changed again - calling more, raising less, and winning fewer pots - but more money when I did win the pot. I had to adjust to the adjustments that others made. To some degree, that's what every good player needs to constantly do. It is the nature of poker. Good games with lots of loose players become tighter. Good opponents change their style to address yours. So if you don't adjust to the adjustments you will be at a disadvantage.
I wish I had a great story about winning a monster pot with my final gear. No climactic hands occurred however. The best that I can tell you all is that my adjustments paid off overall - I won $200 for my four hour session. When the game turned tighter, by the end of the fourth hour, I was too tired to stay very long. But it was fun while it lasted. As always, winning is more fun than losing - even if it requires a bit more work.
Ed note: Ashley talks about the soft Stud action at Party Poker sign up, and see for yourself.