""The generation of random numbers is too important to be left to chance." - Robert R. Coveyou
There are some topics that do not lend themselves to easy classification. In this lesson we will look at added outs, vision, starting with 6-7-8, and reading.
Suppose you start with (KK)7. The other up-cards are the A, 4, T, 9, 4, 8, and 8. The 4 makes the bring-in, the T calls, you complete, the A calls, the 4 folds, and the T calls. Your completion is based on the pair of Kings, of course.
On fourth street you get the 2; the A picks up the 9 and the T catches the 8. You elect to bet; both of your opponents call. On fifth street you pick up the 3 while the A9 gets the J and the T8 catches the T. The pair of tens bets and you elect to call while your other opponent folds.
On sixth street you pick up the J while your opponent gets the 6. You have only a pair of Kings, but you do have the flush draw. Your opponent might have three tens, or perhaps he is on a flush draw and has made two pair. You call his bet. On seventh street you make your flush as you get the A. After your opponent checks you bet and show your flush (he calls). He made two pair on sixth street (his hole cards were the K, 6, and 2).
This hand illustrates an added out - you did not start with a flush draw. However, your hearts were live. Your opponent, though, stayed in the hand with a spade draw even though two of his spades were out. Additionally, your seven was live. Yes, you were lucky to catch the A to win the pot but you had that chance. Assume that on sixth street you pick up the J instead of the J. Do you have the right odds to call your opponent's bet?
Of course every poker player wants to play hands with as many outs as possible. Some of this is obvious: a straight flush draw is better than a flush draw, for example. But many times it's less obvious. A two-flush adds a little extra to a hand. If your unpaired cards is live that's an added out. If your opponents suit(s) are not live that, too, is an added out for your hand. Knowing when you have these added outs should become second nature to you.
I'm nearsighted - the glasses I wear are not for show. When you are playing stud you need to be able to look across the table and casually see what cards your opponents have. If you are squinting at cards, or can't tell a heart from a diamond choose a middle seat (four or five) so you can look at the entire table.
Unfortunately, this advice is the opposite of what seat to choose if you are looking for tells. The best seats to observe the entire table are the end seats (2, 3, 6 and 7). These allow you to easily observe all of your opponents at the table. If you like end seats but have a vision problem you have to choose whether the advantage of seeing the entire table outweighs the disadvantage of squinting at an opponent's cards at the far end of the table. There's no right or wrong here - it's just a matter of preference.
Starting with 6-7-8
You're in seat one, and you look down at (67)8. Your opponents' up-cards are the 8, A, 9, J, 2, 3 and 4. The 2 makes the bring-in, and all fold to you. Do you call, raise or fold?
This is a trap hand. You can make a straight - but (at best) it will be a middle straight. You can make two pairs but they will be middle pairs. You can backdoor a flush, but three of the diamonds are out. Why throw in another penny when you're starting at a disadvantage?
Assume you do call. Then you see the A complete the bet and the J raise. You fold, of course, but have lost some money that you shouldn't have.
Trap hands are the antitheses of hands with added outs. Here you have hands with fewer outs! There are also 'trap situations' that occur regularly in stud. Suppose you have two small pairs and your cards are live. You're up against one opponent who has an open pair higher than your pairs. Ask yourself if he might have two pairs. If he does, he is way ahead on the hand. Remember, the average winning hand in stud is two pairs. Two big pairs beats two small pairs.
I strongly dislike all straight draws. I will admit that I'm biased; one of my first poker memories is making a straight on seventh street only to lose to a flush, also made on seventh street. It wasn't as bad as 'drawing dead and getting there' but it was close. Three high cards can be played in stud (as can a high three-straight). But I think that anyone playing low straight cards is donating to their opponents.
Reading the Opposition
If you're thinking that reading isn't important in stud you couldn't be more wrong. True, it's much more important in flop games (where much of your opponent's hand is hidden) than in stud; however, good players can usually tell what kind of a hand a player has. I remember my first stud tournament. To my left were two expert players (who were not in this hand). Before I showed my two pairs they accurately described my hand as a busted flush draw. Wow, I thought, was I really that transparent?
Unfortunately, this is not a skill that can be taught by reading an article or a book. Rather, you must learn by experience. Some players have betting patterns. For example, they may never lead with a flush draw. Other players will not play straight draws. I know one player who bets his draws by throwing chips in with his left hand while he bets his made hands with his right hand! (I'm sure that a subconscious response to his making of a hand and he isn't even aware of his tell.)
Try focusing on what one person at your table does. Does he or she have betting patterns? Does he bet his draws? Does he like coming from behind? Most players don't have obvious tells like my left/right opponent but almost everyone does have a pattern in how they play. If you look carefully you should be able to find it. When you run across someone who has no pattern and who is a consistent big winner you've found an expert player (or someone with the capacity to become an expert).
The final lesson of this series, lesson 12, focuses on stud tournaments. Entire books have been written about stud tournaments so lesson 12 will be a brief overview of tournament strategy.