Stud Lesson for Hold Em Players - Part Two
This is a continuation of the first part of this two part series. It may be a good idea to read part one of the series first.
...If you are selective on Third Street, you will generally continue to bet your Premium Pairs, even if they don't improve, unless you see opponents who seem to have surpassed your hand. On the other hand, if you are going for a straight or a flush with a drawing hand, you generally want to call or check, sticking around cheaply until you make your hand.
In Stud, unlike in Hold Em, you extra information available to you to help you determine where you stand relative to your opponents - both in terms of your hand's current value and it's prospects for improvement. You need to take advantage of this information.
You need to keep an eye on the cards you need to make your hand, as well as the cards that may help your opponents' hands.. Stud is a game of live cards. If you see many of your Flush or Straight cards falling elsewhere, fold on Fourth or Fifth Street - before the pot gets enormous. Similarly, if you have a low pair and a high kicker and you don't hit your kicker but see one of its rank fall elsewhere on Fourth, fold to a bet. Don't go chasing with a diminished chance of making your hand.
The other theoretical difference between Hold Em and Stud play is that those first three cards really define your hand. Each subsequent betting round, beginning with Fourth Street, only brings you one more card for each new betting round. So, unlike Hold Em, where your hand is largely defined on the flop when 3/7th of your hand is made, on Fourth Street and each subsequent street in Stud only 1/7th of your hand is determined. It is Third Street when 3/7th of your hand is made - which will usually determine the general method for playing your hand as it develops.
Fourth Street will further define your hand to be sure - as will each subsequent street. So you must be very attentive to what your opponents get. But for the most part, since you're playing limit, you will tend to play on Fourth Street if you were in on Third Street and your opponent didn't seem to improve. You'll generally be leading the betting if you raised on Third. But aggression alone isn't your only consideration.
You also need to think defensively. If a player called a raise on Third Street with a 7 as his door card (his initial up card0 for example, and then hits another 7 - pairing his door card, there's a good chance that he made Trips. Respect his bet and tend to fold unless you can beat Trip 7s. Similarly, if a player has a heart up and few are out, and then hits two more exposed hearts, and has just been calling bets before that and then raises with his three hearts, tend to give him credit for a Flush and respect his bets accordingly.
Fifth Street is another round of serious decision making because this is when, generally, the limits double. You need to seriously reassess what your hand is relative to what your opponents have. Are you the top dog - then bet and raise aggressively. Are you on a drawing hand that promises to be the best hand if it hits? Then try to stick around cheaply, checking and calling. Are you behind with little chance of improving to the best hand? Fifth Street is the time to get out. Thereafter, if you're in, unless you see marked improvement in your opponent's up cards, or unless his betting action seems to indicate that he has you beaten badly, you will tend to call. So make your tough folds here, on Fifth Street.
One final note, Stud has one more round of betting than Hold Em. Stud pots can get large very large by the River. You therefore need to take this into consideration when deciding whether to call a bet on the River. In general, unless you are certain that you are beaten you should call the River bet. There are exceptions of course - if someone bets into a multi-way pot, and someone calls the hand in front of you, then if you don't have a strong hand it is generally safe to assume you are beaten. But generally, be willing to make the small mistake of calling with a losing hand rather than making the enormous mistake of folding with a winning hand. Similarly, you should generally bet on the River with any kind of a hand. You want your opponent to have a chance of folding, keeping your cards a mystery. And since Stud players often call on the River with substandard hands because the pots are so large, you will often pick up an extra bet when your opponent calls your bet with a weak hand.
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