Seven card stud is a great poker game that is particularly popular on the East Coast of the United States. While its appearance can be intimidating, and there are many different cards to keep track of, good poker strategy in this game goes past the numbers and begins with how you play your hidden cards. Since everyone's hand starts with two hidden cards and one showing, how you play those hole cards are extremely important, and there are two major types of deception that can help you play a better seven card stud.
Those hole cards, and how you play them, depend on two factors: what card you have showing, and what cards you actually have hidden. These pieces of information will tell you which type of deception to use, and the most effective way to use it in your situation (this is assuming you have a hand that is worth playing, a 2-4-7 all off-suit is still unplayable regardless of the four cards yet to come). If you don't have great hole cards but have an ace showing, try betting strong right off the bat. This is the first type of deception: not having great hole cards, but acting like you do because of a good card that is showing.
If you have an ace showing and bet strong, you can usually bet that all the very weak and weak hands will fold, and only moderately strong ones or better will stay. If someone raises or calls immediately, keep an eye on that player and try to remember what they have if they show down to the end. Always watch for what your opponents will play. If you pair the ace, or happen to stumble into a great hand, great! If you don't, but your next cards look good (like a suited king and queen) keep betting if no one else is showing strength. A large part of seven card stud is not what you have, but acting like the two hidden cards you have are perfect to fill out your ideal hand. Many players with pretty strong hands will fold at the threat of a great hand.
The other type of deception is having great hole cards, but playing like you don't. An extreme example of this would be like having an ace showing and pocket aces to already have trips! If you are known as aggressive, go ahead and be aggressive here. You want as much in the pot as possible, as even two measly deuces give you a great hidden full house! If you are known for being less aggressive, go ahead and just call. If some people begin to develop hands that look scary, bet and try to run them off. If you catch a hidden gem (like a well hidden full house or flush) then just keep calling, especially if someone else before you raises, and someone behind you keeps re-raising. Play it cool until the last round, then jam as much money in as possible. They will probably feel like you are bluffing and keep putting more money in, and if they fold, well all the better. No bad beats!
The key in seven card draw is displaying confidence, understanding what your shown cards are telling other players, and reading how other players use deception to either hide a good hand or bluff at having a good hand. Because of how many cards are showing, this game, maybe more than any other, allows you to bluff, semi-bluff, and play with your opponents since they, like you, are always trying to guess what those hidden cards are. Don't worry if this takes a while - at a full table of seven players there are 49 cards in play. That's a lot of cards showing, and many hidden. This is a game that takes time to learn the nuances, but concentrate early on those hole cards, and you will be amazed how easily the rest may follow.
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