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Beginners Stud 8 - Lesson 9: 7th St

"The only certainty is that there is nothing certain." - Pliny the Elder

There is something very certain on seventh street: your hand isn't going to get better. In this lesson we'll look at hands where you're going to win part (or all) of the pot, hands where you've missed your draws, and hands where you might win some of the pot.

You're Going To Win.

If your one opponent has a board of JKT5 and you have a made low, you are guaranteed half the pot. Assume your opponent checks to you. If I can, with my seven cards, beat his high hand with his four cards, I will bet (unless I'm convinced he has a better high than I have and there would be additional rake taken from the pot if I bet). I'm freerolling, and if I can win one additional bet per session by betting, I will.

Now suppose you have a wheel, and you're up against three opponents, all battling for the high. Two have flush draws and one has two pair showing. The two pair bets, flush draw #1 calls, and the action is to you. Again, there is no reason not to raise. In fact, given that it's likely that you're only getting half the pot (assuming that one of the three players has a flush or a full house), you must raise in order to make winning half the pot worthwhile.

The only reason not to raise when you're guaranteed half the pot is when you're up against two opponents, one of whom has yet to act, and you believe that your raise would cause the opponent who has not acted to fold. This has happened to me maybe three times in over ten years of playing stud high/low.

When You've Missed Your Draws.

Suppose you hold (9T)2345(J). It's pretty, isn't it? You had the bring-in, and your hand kept getting better and better. But you couldn't make your spade flush, or your low, or your straight, and you're stuck with a bunch of busted draws. You've been betting the whole time, and have only one opponent. His board is a mish-mash of cards: 5K8Q. He has been checking and calling you. He checks to you on seventh street. Do you check, and give up, or do you bet, and hope that he folds?

First, whatever you do must be in tempo. Consider on sixth street what you will do if you miss all of your draws. Before we answer the question, one important note about this problem. Let's consider it from your opponent's view first. Assume his whole cards are (34Q), so all he has is a pair of queens. Assume you bet in tempo. Should he call?

I've left out some important information: the pot size. If we assume any sort of normal betting, it's almost always right to check and call with this sort of hand, when you're facing one opponent and all you can beat is a busted draw. This is especially true when your one opponent is the bring-in. Consider the odds that the pot is laying you. Only in the extremely rare instance of a small pot (and that's very unusual for a lower limit stud high/low game) will it be mathematically correct to fold.

Yet many players are unaware of this, and they blissfully fold their one pair hands whenever they are bet into on seventh street. (As an aside, this also happens in seven-card stud and is just as wrong.)

There is one situation where it is absolutely correct to fold-you're up against a rock. Given that a rock won't bluff you, then folding is clear.

The converse is true if you hold the hand that's missed all of the draws. If you're up against a calling station, just give up. By definition a calling station will call you no matter what. If you can't win the hand no matter what then checking and folding must be correct.

When You May Win Some of the Pot.

Much of the time, you'll have a hand where you think you have a chance to win high or low, or perhaps you have a hand that's a fair hand to win one way or the other. Let's assume you hold a hand like (34)7322(6). You're up against two opponents. The first has a board of 85A6 while the second has a board of K947. On sixth street you checked, the A865 bet, the K974 and yourself calling. What do you do on seventh street?

First, try to determine your opponents' holdings. Hopefully, you've been thinking about that the entire hand. Your first opponent is likely on a low draw of some sort. Perhaps he has (67) as his first two hole cards, or maybe he has () [two clubs] in the hole. Your other opponent likely holds either a buried high pair, or a split pair of kings.

You hold a hand that could win both ways, but is likely to win either the high (if your second opponent hasn't made two pair or trips) or low if your first opponent has an eight-low or a worse seven-low. It's also possible that your first opponent has made a flush or a higher two pair. No matter, I believe that betting is correct on seventh street with this hand.

First, you certainly want to call with this hand if an opponent were to bet into you; it's a hand with an excellent shot of winning something. By betting, there's a chance that you'll scare one of your opponents into folding. Additionally, you may preempt them from getting into a raising battle by showing strength. Personally, I believe this hand is worthy of a value bet in that it will, most of the time, collect something from the pot.

Problems arise, though, when your opponents' hands are stronger. Assume your first opponent has the same holding, but your second opponent holds KK47. Unless you're up against someone without much stud high/low experience, your second opponent is ahead of you for high. It's quite possible that your first opponent holds a better low; I'd estimate there's at least a 50% chance of that. Here, unless the opponents got into a raising battle I'd check and call (calling because of pot odds).

This last example shows you why it's correct to engage in a raising war: you're giving your opponent the wrong price to call. That's the key to all forms of poker-making your opponent do the incorrect thing.

In the next lesson we'll look at raising and bluffing. Happily (for me), many of the games I frequent are very passive. Selective aggression is key in almost all forms of poker, and that's definitely true for stud high/low.

Quiz

In this quiz we will look at some seventh 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. For problems 1 - 5, you bring in the hand with the 3, Al calls with the 4, Bill folds the K, Cal calls with the 8, Don completes with the 6, Ed calls wit h the K, Fern folds the 8, George folds the 3, and everyone except Al calls the completion.

1. You hold (75)3. On fourth street, Cal gets the 7, Don gets the 5, Ed gets the Q, and you receive the 2. Don bets, and everyone calls. On fifth street, Cal picks up the A, Don gets the 9, Ed gets the T, and you get the 5. Cal bets, and everyone calls. On sixth street, Cal gets the 9, Don gets the 2, Ed gets the 4, and you get the 3. You bet, and everyone calls. You get, for your last card, the A. Do you (a) check, or (b) bet $20?
[Check Your Answer]

2. Assume the same hand as in problem 1 except that your last card is the T. Do you (a) check, or (b) bet $20?
[Check Your Answer]

3. Assume the same hand as in problem 1 except that your last card is the 8. Do you (a) check, or (b) bet $20?
[Check Your Answer]

4. Assume the same hand as in problem 3. You have bet $20 on seventh street. Cal raises to $40. Don calls, but Ed folds. Do you (a) fold, (b) call the $20 raise, or (c) re-raise to $60?
[Check Your Answer]

5. Assume the same hand as in problem 2. You check on seventh street. Cal hesitates and bets. Don folds, but Ed raises to $40. Do you (a) fold, (b) call, or (c) re-raise to $60?
[Check Your Answer]

6. You're playing a $10/$20 stud high/low game, and the pot is $400 before seventh street betting. You hold (25)679T. You have two remaining opponents. Al has a board of 8JQ5, and Cal has 345T. Al bets $20 on seventh street. Cal calls. You look at your last card, and see that it is the Q. Do you (a) fold, (b) call $20, or (c) raise to $40.
[Check Your Answer]

7. Assume the same hands as in problem 6, except that your last card is the 3. Do you (a) fold, (b) call $20, or (c) raise to $40?
[Check Your Answer]

8. Assume the same hands as in problem 6, except that your last card is the T. Do you (a) fold, (b) call $20, or (c) raise to $40?
[Check Your Answer]

9. Assume the same hands as in problem 6, except that your last card is the 8. Do you (a) fold, (b) call $20, or (c) raise to $40?
[Check Your Answer]

10. Assume the same hands as in problem 9. You elect to raise to $40. Al re-raises to $60, and Cal makes the last raise to $80. Do you (a) fold, or (b) call the $40 in raises?
[Check Your Answer]

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