Stud Hi Lo Poker Strategy

Stud Hi Lo Poker

Stud Hi Lo Poker, also known as Stud 8/b (8 or better), is dealt the same way as Stud and betting rounds work the same. When playing Stud 8/b you are playing your best 5 high cards for one hand, and at the same time you are playing your 5 best low cards for low. This is where the term "8 or better" comes in. In most card rooms, live and online, there is a requirement of an 8 or better low for a low hand to qualify for half of the pot.

A low hand looks like this: A2467 or A5784. Some people just starting out may get confused and think they have a low hand when they are dealt cards like this: 2233466 or 6634477. There is no low hand here, these cards play for high as 2 pair. If there is no qualifying low hand the pot remains 1 high only pot.

Part I - Basic Stud Hi Lo Poker Strategies

We'll start with a few basic strategies for playing Stud Hi Lo Poker. The most important basic strategy I can stress when playing Stud Hi/Lo is to play the right starting hands. If you play every hand you are dealt or call bets to see the next card because you have an ace, you will constantly lose money. Solid starting hands are the key to Stud 8/b, especially the low ones. I find myself playing a lot more low hands than I do high. Playing a lot of high hands like 1 pair and 2 pair, sometimes even 3 of a kind, is not a good strategy and will get you in trouble. With it being hi/lo you have people playing starting hands like 234, and 456 that become low straights. These kinds of hands win the high side and the low side of the pot all the time. When you win both sides of the pot players have come to call it "scooping the pot" or "sweeping the pot".

When you put your money into the pot with a starting hand (the first 3 cards you are dealt before a betting round occurs) like 234 (as opposed to a starting hand of A102), your odds of making a winning or even a scooping hand are better. If you play A102 you may get the dreaded 2 pair, aces up, that I see lose all too many times to low straights or lows that have rivered into a flush. Playing lows like 468 are a bad idea as well - these are what I call rough lows. When you are playing high starting hands, you want to go in with at least 1010, JJ, QQ, KK, AA; or if you go in on rolled up suits (first 3 cards of the same suit) you want to have the ace with it. Playing mid pairs tends to get you in trouble, but if the bet is cheap you can call to see 4th street (4th card dealt) to see if you make your trip card.

The most sought after hand in hi low is "The Wheel", A2345, which is the best possible low hand and also an A-5 straight for high. This hand typically scoops the whole pot. Hands like 23456, 34567 and 45678 are great too as they work as a high and a low hand.

It is usually simple to read if you have lock low (best possible low hand). If a player is showing 28910 the best possible low hand they could have is A2348 (assuming their under cards are the best possible lows). If you playing heads up for low end of the pot with 3456 as your first 4 cards and you have your opponent betting into you with a pair of kings showing, call this bet but don't raise. You get a king as your next card, he bets you again, call because you are on for an open ended low straight and any number of cards could win you low and maybe high too. 6th street is dealt, its an ace giving you A3456K. Your opponent bets with showing KK8J - he has no possible chance for low so you have that end locked up. This is where you WANT to raise. He could be betting 2 pair or 3 of a kind and your river may bring you a deuce or 7 to make your straight. River is an ace, now you have A3456 for low and AA for high. Bet your opponent again. I call this the "just in case bet", just in case all he has is KK (what he is showing - see screenshot below). You may find your aces are good for high along with your A3456 for locked low and take the whole pot. Getting those extra bets in are key to winning big pots against high hands.

Stud Hi Lo Screenshot

This can work on the flipside with made high hands against low chasers heads up. Say you get 2 pair in your first 4 cards, your opponent is showing 38, you want to bet them heads up to in case they decide to chase and don't make a low. Another reason to bet at unstrung showing low cards with 2 pair or even 1 high pair is so you don't let them check into a straight. If you let them catch cards for free they might beat you, whereas if you bet your high they may fold and you take the pot down right there. I would like to note that if you are being bet by a high hand heads up, you had better be going for a solid hand. You cannot win any money, so why put your money in the pot when all you are going to do is MAYBE split it. It is like throwing money away if you don't make your hand. Try not to play bad low hands against someone betting high into you - more times than not you will lose money if you don't make your low.

♣ Back to the index of articles about poker strategy or stud poker strategy.