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Stud Poker Strategy - Selective Aggression

Stud Poker Strategy - Selective Aggression 0001

I'm going to assume that you've learned to be tight. You've learned to throw away trash hands on Third Street. Perhaps you've practice with the Wilson software, Turbo 7-stud - so you're well rehearsed and disciplined. You have learned the self control to regularly fold (57)K, {9-Hearts}{6-Hearts}Ts and {K-Hearts}{J-Diamonds}9h with the best of them.

So you don't have to worry about being sucked in to too many hands because of your inability to recognize the bad ones. You're more than a beginner. This is important because what I'm about to tell you could easily be misconstrued and misused by a player too new to the game to recognize the importance of playing tight. But you're better than that - so you get to see this useful tool. (You are better than that, no?)

If you're a generally tight player then there is a move you can use to increase your overall win rate by taking advantage of both the possibility that an aggressive move will get your opponents to fold and the possibility that you will improve to the best hand on the next few cards.

This move works best if you have a table with relatively good players who will respect your raise. Here's how it goes.

You want a wired pair - a low pair is fine - and you want a kicker higher than all of the cards that are out - preferably an Ace or a King. You want your cards to be live. 2-suited is nice but not critical.

If someone raises, with a Premium card that you figure is probably paired. Don't call this player - as some poor players might - and don't fold - as many tight players would do. Rather, raise him!

Here's what you want. You want to represent that you have a higher pair than his. You want to knock everyone else out of the pot. And you want to have at least some expectation that the initial bettor will fold even though he bet. You don't need that to happen for this plan to work, but it needs to be at least a thin possibility.

Here's an example. You have {6-Clubs}{6-Diamonds}Ac. The bring-in is a couple of seats to your left. It is folded around to your right. The bet is raised by someone with a Queen. There are three players who remain to act after you. You raise this Queen. That makes it a double bet for other players to call, and a single raise for the Queen to call. If everyone folds including the Queen, great. You just won the pot, including all antes, the bring-in and this players completed bet as well. But if the Queen calls you that's OK too because you have a good enough chance of winning the pot to give the move a positive expectation.

Let's say this is a $20/40 stud game with a $3.00 ante and a $5.00 bring-in. That means that there is $27.00 in the pot before your opponent's raise. His raise brings the pot to $47. When you raise him you are, in essence, investing $40 to win $47.00. You have about a 45% chance of winning the hand if your opponent calls and you just play it out from there, with neither of you folding. As you can see, your pod odds are close to your real odds of winning - ever so slightly tilted against you. (1: 1.17 pot odds versus a 1:1.22 chance of making the better hand).

But there are so many other ways you can win other than just playing the hand out - that this move has a positive expectation for you - especially if you are a superior player. Let me walk you through those reasons so you can see why it's important to add this move to your arsenal.

First of all, the Queen may have been raising as a bluff or semi-bluff. He may only have a pocket pair or a couple of other high cards or suited cards or even garbage. When you re-raise him he will surely fold in those situations. Similarly, even if he does have a pair of Queens, he may fold to your raise - recognizing you for the tight/aggressive player you are.

As the hand progresses, you will also be able to win if you pair your Ace. This will convince many opponents that you have now made trips - or that at least the possibility is great that you made trips and he should fold. If, however, you hit you wired pair, he won't suspect that you really made trips, giving you added value on those hands.

It's also important that you not be deemed too tight - lest you not make any money on those occasions when you really do have a hand and bet. If you become known by your observant opponents as someone who never makes moves, never gets out of line, and only bets with Premium Pairs on Third Street then they'll always fold (the good opponents will anyway) and you'll get no value for your strong hands. This move will help keep your opponents guessing and off balance - something you always want in your opponents.

Ed Note: Give Stud a try at Ultimate Bet

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