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Beginners Stud 8 - Lesson 8: 6th Street

"Some people are born on third base and go through life thinking they hit a triple." - Barry Switzer

In all stud games, if you see sixth street you usually will see seventh street (the river). This has to do with the math, or odds, that exist. In stud high/low there are occasions where you should fold on sixth street. We'll look at those, along with a discussion of pot odds and hand reading.

Hand Reading.

Reading your opponents' cards is vital in hold'em because you only see the shared (community) cards. In stud games however, hand reading isn't considered that important. If you want to be a top-notch stud player, you must be able to read your opponents' cards. And it's so much easier in stud than hold'em, so you can do it.

The key to hand reading in stud is to work backwards. Suppose your opponent has a board of 8T49. Your board is 4A7Q. A player who has since folded completed on third street, and you both called. On fourth street, you bet, and both players called. On fifth street you bet, the other player folded (his board was 6KT), and your opponent called. On sixth street you bet, and your opponent raises. What does he hold?

First, if you're up against a maniac or person who has no idea of what he's doing, forget about hand reading. If they don't know what they're doing, there's no way you're going to figure out their cards. In such a situation fall back on abc poker: bet your good hands, and check or fold your bad hands.

Here, though, you're facing a sane player. He stayed in the hand when he bricked on fourth street. On sixth street, when he doesn't have a low and it's almost certain you do have a low, he's raised. The only logical conclusion is that he has a made high, and figures he's free-rolling for half the pot if you don't have a low. The most logical down-cards he could hold would be 67, giving him a ten-high straight and a low draw. It's possible he has 67 for the straight flush redraw.

Looking back at the hand his actions were reasonable throughout. (67)8 is a good starting hand. Indeed, he could have completed or raised with the hand on third street. He elected to continue with one brick on fourth street as the 10 did give him an inside straight draw. The 4 on fifth street gave him a double gut-shot straight draw, which he hit on sixth street.

Once you've determined what your opponent likely holds, you can figure out your best action. In this case, if you have a made low that he can't beat, say your down cards are (23), I'd reraise. Here, you're free-rolling against him. He can't beat your low (the best he can make is an 8-low). If you're wrong on your read (suppose he started with rolled-up 8s), you have a draw for the high (a 5 would give you a wheel). If I have no draw to beat my opponent's made hand, and I'm certain he has it, I'll just check or call, especially in a raked game. There's no reason to give the house more money when you're going to split the pot. If I don't have a low (say my down cards are (A2)), I'll usually call as the pot odds will warrant my drawing one more card.

Pot Odds.

Pot odds are vital in all games, especially when you may be drawing. Most of the time you are drawing in stud high/low, so you should know how to calculate pot odds. There's a very important catch to pot odds that stud high/low shares with Omaha high/low: you must adjust your odds when you're drawing for half the pot.

Assume your opponent has a board of KKTT, while your hand is (45)67JK. You're fairly certain that your opponent has made his full house. You've been keeping track of low cards that are gone, and two 2s, one ace, and one 8 are gone. Nine non-outs are also gone. The pot has $180, after your opponent bets $20. Should you call?

First, we need to determine your chance of making your hand. You need an ace, 2, 3, or 8. There are 16 less the 4 that are gone; thus, you have 12 outs. The chance of you making your hand is 12/(52 - (4 + 6 + 4 + 9)) = 12/29 = 41.4%.

Next, we compare this result to the ratio of the money you must put into the pot to the money in the pot; here that's $20/$180 = 1/9. If this ratio is larger than your chance of making the hand, you should fold; if not, you should call. Here, a call looks clear.

Have you noticed the flaw in the reasoning?

You're only going after half the pot. Thus, we must make an adjustment. You can either halve the money in the pot ($20/$90 = 2/9) and compare as before, or you can cut your chances of making the hand in half. Either method will give you the correct answer. In this example, you should call as the pot is laying you the correct price.

Pot odds in stud high/low can be more complex because of the chance of hitting a "magic" card that gives you the scoop. Suppose you were certain that your opponent did not have the full house in the above example because all of the other 10s and kings were gone. Thus, if you hit a 3 or an 8 you would scoop. How do you calculate your chances in this situation? Assume that you have four scoop outs available of 12 total outs (29 unknown cards outstanding).

You can do the exact math calculation, of course. However, that's time consuming and difficult to do at the table. Instead, here's a short cut. Four of your outs are worth the entire pot, and eight are worth half the pot. So cut those eight outs in half, giving you eight equivalent outs. You would have an 8/29 (27.6%) chance of winning the hand. Another trick in all pot odds questions is to simplify the math. 8/29 ? 8/28 = 2/7 ? 28%. I do my work in percentages (I have a math background); you can also just compare ratios or any shortcut that works. You don't have to be exact. The goal is to make a reasonable comparison.

Boards.

Like fifth street you need to be wary when you're facing a scary board. While folding on sixth street in stud high is rare, if your opponent has a board of 2456, and you've been bricking, there's nothing wrong with folding. Likewise, if you've been betting with a similar board, it almost doesn't matter what your hole cards are-you should continue to bet.

If you are facing multiple opponents, ask yourself what they're likely to be holding. How many of your opponents are chasing lows? Who has the high? Where do you stand? Review the betting, and act appropriately.

In the next lesson we'll look at seventh street. There are no draws left. You either have a winner or you don't. We'll look at the last round of betting, with an emphasis on when you miss your draws.

QUIZ.

In this quiz we will look at some sixth 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. Unless otherwise noted, Bill brings in the hand with the 3, Cal calls with the 8, Don folds the 8, Ed calls with the 5, you call with the 4, George folds the 9, Hal folds the 7, and Al completes with the J. Bill folds, but everyone else calls.

1. You hold (62)4. On fourth street, Cal gets the Q, Ed gets the 4, you get the 6, and Al receives the 3. It's checked to Al who bets, everyone calling. On fifth street, Cal pairs with the Q, Don gets the 3, you pick up the 2, and Al gets the K. Cal bets, Don hesitates and calls, you raise, and everyone calls. On sixth street Cal gets the 2, Don gets the 7, you pick up the 8, and Al gets the 7. It is checked to you. Do you (a) check, or (b) bet $20?
[Check Your Answer]

2. Assume the same hand as in problem 1 except that Cal checks and Don bets $20. Do you (a) fold, (b) call, or (c) raise to $40?
[Check Your Answer]

3. Assume the same hand as in problem 2 except that your hole cards are the 5 and 3. Do you (a) fold, (b) call, or (c) raise to $40?
[Check Your Answer]

4. Assume the same hand as in problem 1, and that you bet on sixth street. Everyone calls. Which of these down cards is the most likely that Al holds? (a) AA, (b) AT, (c) KK, or (d) It's impossible to determine because Al is a maniac.
[Check Your Answer]

5. You hold (42)4. On fourth street, Cal gets the 7, Don the K, you the 2, and Al the 6. Don checks, you bet, and everyone calls. On fifth street, Cal pairs with the 7, Don gets the 2, you get the 6, and Al the Q. Cal bets, and everyone calls. On sixth street, Cal makes two pair with the 8, Don bricks with the 9, you brick with the J, and Al gets the A. Cal bets $20 with his two pair. Don calls. Do you (a) fold, (b) call, or (c) raise to $40?
[Check Your Answer]

6. Assume the same hand as in problem 5 except that on sixth street you get the 5. Do you (a) fold, (b) call $20 or (c) raise to $40?
[Check Your Answer]

7. Assume the same hands as in problem 6, and that you call Cal's bet. Al raises to $40, Cal re-raises to $60, with Don calling. Do you (a) fold, (b) call the additional $40, or (c) cap the betting with a final $20 raise to $80?
[Check Your Answer]

8. Assume the same hands as in problem 7. What is the most likely hand that Al holds? (a) Ace-high diamond flush; (b) Ace-high straight; (c) Two pair, aces up; or (d) It's impossible to determine.
[Check Your Answer]

9. Assume the same hands as in problem 7. What is the most likely hand that Cal holds? (a) Two pair, eights and sevens; (b) Full house, eights over sevens; (c) Full house, sevens over eights; (d) either (b) or (c)
[Check Your Answer]

10. Assume the same hands as in problem 7. You elect to fold. Should Al call Cal's re-raise? (a) Yes, he has the proper number of outs and the right pot odds; (b) Yes, the pot is too large to fold in case Cal doesn't have the full house; (c) No, Al does not have the right price to call given his pot odds; (d) No, Al has no outs so the pot odds are irrelevant. You may ignore the rake for purposes of answering this question.
[Check Your Answer]

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