Michael "The Grinder" Mizrachi's Mixed Game Tips, Part 1: Stud & Stud Hi-Lo

Michael Mizrachi

Coming up on Monday, June 24, the much anticipated, five-day $50,000 Poker Players Championship kicks off at the 2019 World Series of Poker. The PPC began back in 2006 (earning its name in 2010), and during its first 13 years no one has been more successful in the event than Michael "The Grinder" Mizrachi.

Last year Mizrachi captured his third PPC title to go along with the ones he won in 2010 and 2012, breaking a tie with two-time winner Brian Rast. In addition to these three wins in this coveted event, Mizrachi also finished fourth in the 2016 PPC.

The PPC is played six-handed and consists of eight different games in a variety of disciplines: stud (seven-card stud, seven-card stud hi-lo, and razz); Omaha games (pot-limit Omaha, Omaha hi-lo); hold'em (limit and no-limit); and draw (2-7 triple draw).

Michael "The Grinder" Mizrachi's Mixed Game Tips, Part 1: Stud & Stud Hi-Lo 101
Michael Mizrachi after winning his 3rd PPC title at the 2018 WSOP

As the 38-year-old poker superstar prepared to defend his PPC title, I sat down with Mizrachi to discuss the big mistakes amateurs make in these eight different games as well as to gather tips from the Grinder for how to approach each of them.

Since Mizrachi is fresh off capturing his fifth bracelet in Event #27: $1,500 Seven-Card Stud Hi-Lo 8 or Better, we decided to begin this four-part series with a discussion of seven-card stud and seven-card stud hi-lo.

PokerNews: Congratulations on winning your fifth WSOP bracelet in the seven-card stud hi-lo.

Michael Mizrachi: Thanks, Bernard. It’s pretty incredible. I want to thank my family, friends and fans who were there to support me.

With the PPC coming up, are you excited to defend your title?

Absolutely. I always love playing the Poker Players Championship and I always feel confident when I play in the event.

Let’s begin with the game you just won your fifth bracelet in, seven-card stud hi-lo. What are some of the common mistakes that amateurs make in this game?

Players often are only playing their hand and not looking at their opponents’ cards.

For example, players sometimes play any three lower cards and that is a mistake, especially if someone after is starting with cards lower than you. I see a player might start with 2-7-8 and it seems that an opponent or two has a better starting low draw. The player is potentially drawing behind and they have very little chance at a straight. I would rather play 6-7-8 or 5-6-7 to give a better opportunity at a two-way hand.

Also, players are often drawing to lows or a straight when the cards that they need are exposed. For example, if they have 6-7-8 and two fives and a nine are exposed. This is not a very good drawing hand and they should definitely fold it.

Of course, the opposite is true where if you start with 3-4-5 and couple of fours and a three is shown — now you have a better chance at not pairing these cards and making a low and even a straight. Thus, these up cards makes this hand even stronger.

Those are some of the common mistakes. What other advice can you give players for how to approach seven-card stud hi-lo?

Of course, the optimal starting hands are two-way hands. However, like all poker, seven-card stud hi-lo is a very situational game and you are able to assess situations with more information since numerous cards are face up. Therefore, you have to be paying attention in any stud game all the time. You can never be on your phone. You have to focus 100 percent of the time.

Imagine in hold’em if a card was accidentally exposed and the dealer showed everyone except you. It would be a huge disadvantage. Well, in stud, there are multiple “exposed” cards every street and the player that remembers the most cards has a huge advantage.

Therefore, if no players have a low possible draw, the previously discussed low hand of 2-7-8 that I said to fold, suddenly becomes playable. This is all dependent on the situation and if you are paying close attention to every opponent’s hand.

Chips, Cards & Branding
Pay attention to others' up cards in stud games, advises Mizrachi

Also, if I have a big pair, I often like to reraise in order to isolate and get heads-up against a potential low hand to chop with them. Then, hopefully, my opponent doesn’t make a low and I can scoop the pot.

Another piece of advice if you have a big hand, would be to flat on fourth street in order to get them to put another bet on fifth street so you can raise to get an extra big bet in. Limit games are all about getting an extra bet and this is an excellent way to do this.

Finally, if you are guaranteed the high or low, and two other players are fighting for the other half, you sometimes may want to flat instead of raising to keep them both in. They will fight for half the pot and keep putting in bets, where you are guaranteed the other half and will make additional chips.

Let’s switch to seven-card stud, which is a "high-only" game. What are some mistakes that amateurs make in seven-card stud?

A lot of players are calling with low pairs. I wouldn't play with anything less than sixes, but again it depends on situation and the up cards. If there are a lot of higher cards to my pair, especially if someone has already brought it in, I may just fold. But if there are a lot of lower cards, I may raise.

Also, players try to bluff on seventh street and when their opponent has called them down on every street, their opponent will rarely fold. In limit, they will always be getting the right price to call.

What other advice can you share for seven-card stud?

If I enter the pot, I’m always raising or three-betting. I’m super-aggressive and try to limit the field. Many players are not aggressive enough.

I like playing three cards of the same suit and I love the wired pairs.

Also, you can sometimes rep hands that you don’t have based on your up cards. If you bet the cards like you have it, your opponents can believe you and fold.

* * * * *

Next time, we will move on to discuss the "low" games in the 8-game mix — razz and 2-7 limit triple draw.

  • New series: Three-time Poker Players Championship champ Michael Mizrachi with advice for all 8 games.

  • Fresh off his Stud hi-lo bracelet win, Michael Mizrachi shares strategy advice for stud & stud hi-lo.

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