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Beginners Stud 8 - Lesson 6: 4th Street

"In preparing for battle I have always found that plans are useless, but planning is indispensable." - Dwight D. Eisenhower

After examining starting hands (third street) in the last three lessons, this lesson looks at fourth street. The main question that must be examined is if you have a good hand that catches bad, should you fold? A secondary question is if you have a good hand that catches a good card, should you limit the field (if you can do so)?

Have You Improved?

Let's assume you started with (34)5. On fourth street you catch the 2. That's as good a fourth street card as possible and you can bet (or raise) to your heart's content. Just remember that all you have is a draw. It may be a great draw (you have a flush draw, a straight draw, and a low draw), but you can still catch three bricks in a row and have nothing. That's the reality of stud high/low.

Catching good is a card that both extends your core draw (straight or flush) and your low draw (e.g. 6; the 2 is a great card because it extends three draws). A decent card is one that extends either your core draw or your low draw. For example, the J or 8 with the above starting hand would be a decent card. A brick is a card that adds nothing to the hand (e.g. K).

There are two other types of good cards you can pick up. You can pair up a hole card. This is very deceptive for your opponents. In the above example, if you catch the 3 it looks like you have four low cards rather than a pair and a three-low. On the other hand, pairing your door card is always scary in stud; if you catch the 5 opponents could believe you have three 5s.

Unfortunately, you don't always improve on fourth street. Let's assume you begin with the same great starting hand, (34)5, but you brick on fourth street, catching the K. You're facing four opponents, and all have live up-cards. The 2 catches the 6, the 6 picks up the 7, the J pairs with the J, and the 7 catches the A. The pair of jacks bets, the A7 calls, and you must act next. Should you call?

Obviously, the fact that you bricked is important; additionally, all of your opponents caught good cards-the worst possible result. If you know that your opponents are passive, taking one more card is not horrible; however, it's not great. Coming from behind is always more difficult than being the leader and you're definitely behind.

Let's change what the opponents catch. The 2 bricks with the Q, the 6 still gets the 7, the J pairs with the J, but the 7 bricks with the T. Again, the pair of jacks bets and the T7 calls. Should you call?

Besides the fact that two of your opponents bricked, there's another subtle difference in the two hands-none of your opponents caught spades. Given that it's almost certain that the call by the T7 is wrong (putting dead money into the pot), a call by you now looks reasonable. But I have a rule that I follow in stud high/low, that I strongly suggest you also follow if you play on in fourth street with one brick: fold on fifth street if you brick again (unless a bluffing opportunity arises, and these are quite rare in low limit stud high/low).

Let's look at one last example of a decent hand that catches a decent (but not) great card on fourth street. You had the bring-in with (85)2, five players calling your bring-in. On fourth street, you catch the 6; the other hands are (moving around the table): KJ, A3; 7J, 32, and 89. The A3 bets, the J7 folds, and the 32 and 98 call. Should you call, raise or fold?

A fold is clear. You will need a miracle to win the high, and playing for miracles isn't good poker. And in stud high/low, playing for half the pot when you're also undoubtedly not the best low draw is bad poker, too. Sure, you have a draw for low; however, either the A3 or 32 is ahead of you (or both). This has become a trap hand, and folding now will extricate you from the trap.

High Hands.

Let's assume you start with a decent high hand, (AA)9. On fourth street you catch the T; your four opponents' up-cards are: 57, 3T, 27, and 63. On third street, the 2 had brought in the action and you completed the betting. On fourth street you're first to act. Should you bet or check?

 

I would bet, hoping to limit the field somewhat. Note that you have a one-way hand-you cannot make a low. I'm quite wary about this hand, though; you're up against three low draws and you now are hoping for half the pot. Indeed, that's the biggest problem with high hands in stud high/low. I would continue, though, because the typical "high" winner is two pair, and you're halfway to the best possible two pair. The danger exists that one of your opponents could make a straight.

Of course, if you start with a high hand and catch a good card (making two pair or trips), it's essential that you continue betting. In stud high/low, high hands cannot afford to give opponents free cards.

Improved Trash.

The last hand type we'll cover in this lesson is when you start with a trash hand (having had the bring-in) and you improve. Of course, if you start with a trash hand and you don't improve, fold. Here, though, let's assume you had the bring-in with (Q6)2. Four players called your bring-in. On fourth street, the hands are now: (Q6)23, 4A, 49, 72, and 5J. The A4 bets, the 94 folds, the 72 and the J5 call. Should you call, raise or fold?

While you caught almost as good a card as possible, I think folding is correct here because you don't have much of a chance for high. While you now have a three-low, there's only two fours and three fives left in the deck. I'm suspicious that the J5 has either a pair or a flush draw (he called when he caught a brick). I don't like drawing when I'm behind on the low and have no real chance for high.

Stud high/low is a game of patience, and of catching cards. Continuing on when you brick is a good way to loosen your wallet.

In the next lesson we'll look at fifth street. The betting limits double, and those who brick really pay if they stick around.

QUIZ.

In this quiz we will look at some fourth 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. You brought in the action with (45)3. To your disappointment, no one completed. On fourth street, the remaining hands are: (45)38, 3A, 99, 7Q, and 84. The pair of nines bets $10, the Q7 folds, and the 84 calls. Except for the cards you can see, all of your cards are live. Do you (a) fold, (b) call, or (c) raise to $20?
[Check Your Answer]

2. Assume the same hand as in problem 1 except that on fourth street you brick, catching the K. Do you (a) fold, (b) call, or (c) raise to $20?
[Check Your Answer]

3. Assume the same hand as in problem 1 except that your hole cards are the 6 and J. Do you (a) fold, (b) call, or (c) raise to $20?
[Check Your Answer]

4. Assume the same hand as in problem 1 except that on fourth street you catch the A. Do you (a) fold, (b) call, or (c) raise to $20?
[Check Your Answer]

5. On third street you called a completion bet. Now, on fourth street, your hand becomes (67)89; your opponents hold 23, K7, 44, and 2Q. The pair of fours (who made the completion bet) bets $10, the Q2 folding. Do you (a) fold, (b) call, or (c) raise to $20?
[Check Your Answer]

6. Assume the same hand as in problem 5 except that instead of catching the 9, you catch the 5. Do you (a) fold, (b) call, or (c) raise to $20?
[Check Your Answer]

7. Assume the same hand as in problem 5 except that instead of catching the 9, you catch the Q. Do you (a) fold, (b) call, or (c) raise to $20?
[Check Your Answer]

8. On third street, you brought in the action with (97)2, with three players calling. On fourth street, the hands are: (97)2J, 65, 4Q, and 78. The Q4 checks, the 87 checks, you check, but the 65 bets $10. The Q4 folds and the 87 calls. Do you (a) fold, (b) call, or (c) raise to $20?
[Check Your Answer]

9. Assume the same hand as in problem 8 except that you catch the 3 on fourth street. The betting remains the same. Do you (a) fold, (b) call, or (c) raise to $20?
[Check Your Answer]

10. Assume the same hand as in problem 8 except that you catch the 9 on fourth street; again, the betting remains the same. Do you (a) fold, (b) call, or (c) raise to $20?
[Check Your Answer]

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