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Beginners Stud 8 - Lesson 3: 3rd St. (Part 1)

"Tragedy is when I cut my finger. Comedy is when you fall into an open sewer and die." - Mel Brooks

In the first of three lessons looking at your starting hands in stud high/low, today we will focus on the great and very good starting hands-hands that you will always play (and often will complete or raise with). These hands have "scoop" written all over them, and are the most profitable starting hands in the long-term in stud high/low.

The Great Low Hands

Three to a Straight Flush. By far, the best starting hand in stud high/low is three low cards to a straight flush, such as 345. Consider the hands you can make: a low, a straight, a flush, and numerous backdoor combinations. I consider 345 and 456 preferable to A23 because the A23 is limited on the low-end. However, I would complete or raise with any three low-card straight flush.

Three to a Flush.

I consider this the second best starting hand, especially if the cards are closely connected, such as 245 or 346. Less optimal, but certainly playable, are hands such as A48. (You will note that I haven't specified hole cards for any of the examples so far. That's because it's irrelevant which cards are up or down-these starting hands are so good that you will play the hands no matter what.)

I will tend to complete or raise with a three-flush if either my cards are connected or if it is limped to me. In low and mid-limit stud high/low games, most of the players will call regardless of other players' raises. This favors "ABC" poker, betting with your good hands and folding your bad ones.

Three to a Straight.

Another excellent starting hand is when you hold three connected cards such as 345. While I would prefer to have a two-flush (giving yet another draw for the hand), I will almost always complete or raise if I hold three connected wheel cards.

One difference that I make with three low connected cards is that I do prefer the wheel cards to the 678. Both hands can make straights, of course (and the 678 is open-ended on both sides); however, the 345 is a far better low hand. With the 678 I may or may not complete, depending on my feel for the other players at the table.

The Great Low Hands.

The obvious shared characteristic of the great low hands is that they have tremendous scoop potential. Even if you brick, you may catch a card that can help you with your "other" draw. These hands tend to play themselves.

The Very Good Low Hands

One-Gap Lows.

In the second grouping of good low hands we have "one-gap" lows such as 346. These hands are all eminently playable, but you do need to note if your key card (with 346, it is a 5) is live. With "gap" hands, you want your cards as low as possible (giving you a better low draw), and you'd prefer starting with a two-flush (giving you yet another draw). The more ways you have to win the better. I am aggressive with my one-gap hands if they are all wheel cards; I'm less aggressive if I hold higher cards.

Two-Gap Lows.

If one-gap low hands are quite good, then two-gap low hands are just good. This category of hands includes 347, 357, and 367. The same rules apply as to one-gap hands: the lower the better and a two-flush is better than a rainbow hand. These hands are more of a one-way hand (a good low draw) than the other very good low hands. I tend to be aggressive with these hands, raising (or completing) when I have wheel cards and just calling when I don't.

Three Low Cards, Including a Pair.

This is the most difficult of the "very good" low hands to play; indeed, some of these hands should be folded. These hands are dependent on many factors: if your cards are live, how connected they are, whether you have a two-flush, whether your pair is buried, and whether one of your opponents is playing an obvious high hand. Let's examine these factors.

When you start with a pair in stud high/low, you must consider the "liveness" of your cards. Assume you start with (44)5. If both of the other 4s are out, this is not that good of a hand. If both fours and a five are out, you should muck the hand. However, if your cards are live this is an excellent hand with good scoop potential.

Ideally, you'd like your cards to be connected such as (44)5. I don't like hands such as (44)8. The second hand does have a two low, a buried pair (more on that in a moment), but you have a high low card (8) without any connectedness to the 4s. But if the hand were (44)A, I'd be delighted.

Having a two-flush adds yet another possible out to your hand. Winning stud high/low players always want additional means of winning hands. While two-flushes usually don't develop into a flush, the possibility adds to the expected value of your hand.

Additionally, you'd prefer your pair to be buried. This is true for all forms of stud-your opponents should consider a paired door-card as a possible sign of you holding trips. Assuming you hold (44)A do you think your opponents will equate you catching the 4 with you holding trip 4s?

Lastly, if one of your opponents is playing a high card (i.e. 9, T, J, Q or K), it's almost certain that they have a pair at the minimum. If that's the case, the only way I'll play my hand (when I hold a three-low with a pair) is when I have at least one of these other factors (two-flush, two-straight, etc.) working for me and my cards must be live. I'm trailing my opponents' pair, and I'm likely going to be trailing another opponents' low draw, so everything else on the hand must be right.

Those are the great and very good stud high/low starting hands (with three low cards). In the next lesson we will examine the good low hands, the good high hands, and the marginal stud high/low hands.

QUIZ.

In this quiz we will look at some third street situations in seven-card stud high/low. Assume that you're playing in a $10/$20 stud high/low game with a $1 ante and a $3 bring-in.

1. Abe, on your left, brings in the hand with the 2. You look down at (23)4. The other up-cards are the 5, 7, 7, K, A, and J. Do you (a) fold, (b) call, or (c) complete to $10?
[Check Your Answer]

2. Assume the same hand as in problem 1 except that you are last to act. Abe brings it in, the 5, 7, and A call. Do you (a) fold, (b) call, or (c) complete to $10?
[Check Your Answer]

3. Assume the same hand as in problem 2 except that the A completes to $10. Do you (a) fold, (b) call, or (c) raise to $20?
[Check Your Answer]

4. Abe, on your left, brings in the hand with the 2. You look down at (22)6. The other up-cards are the 6, T, 8, Q, 2, and J. Do you (a) fold, (b) call, or (c) complete to $10?
[Check Your Answer]

5. Assume the same hand as in problem 4 except that your hand is (55)4. After Abe's bring-in, do you (a) fold, (b) call, or (c) complete to $10?
[Check Your Answer]

6. Assume the same hand as in problem 5 except that you are last to act. After Abe brings in the action, the 6 completes, the 8 calls, and the 2 raises to $20. Do you (a) fold, (b) call, or (c) raise to $30?
[Check Your Answer]

7. Abe brings in the hand with his 2. You look down at (98)T. The other up-cards are 3, J, K, K, 4, and 4. Do you (a) fold, (b) call, or (c) complete to $10?
[Check Your Answer]

8. Assume the same hand as in problem 7 except that you are last to act. After Abe brings in the hand, the 3 calls, the K completes, and the 4 calls the completion. Do you (a) fold, (b) call, or (c) raise to $20?
[Check Your Answer]

9. Abe brings in the hand with his 2. You look down at (58)4. The other up-cards are 3, J, K, K, 9, and 9. Do you (a) fold, (b) call, or (c) complete to $10?
[Check Your Answer]

10. Assume the same hand as in problem 9 except that you are last to act. After Abe brings-in the hand, the J calls, the K completes, with both the 9 and the 9 calling. Do you (a) fold, (b) call, or (c) raise to $20?
[Check Your Answer]

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