Stud Poker Strategy


Starting Hands

Stud poker is a game full of ups and downs - you cannot control how the cards come, but you can control how you bet and why. As in any game of poker, your starting hand is the most important element of your strategy because it is a base for the remaining cards to be dealt. It is easy to play starting pairs and starting suits, but what other hands can you play and still feel good about? Here are a few of my Stud poker strategies.

Stud Poker Starting Hands

A lot of Stud players would shudder at the thought of calling a raise on a starting hand of 234 or other lower connectors. This is my secret strategy when playing Stud. I am a Stud hi/low player and see how often hands like 234 draw into straights and sometimes even flushes. In Stud poker I have noticed that the most common wins are on 2 pairs. If you play low connectors and make your straight, you will get a lot of action on your hand when 2 pair or three of a kind is raising into you. Sometimes this will bite you in the butt if your opponent has drawn his full house or some other hand higher than yours, but more often than not your low straight can take down the pot.

Since Stud poker is always run on fixed limits, it is easy and cheap to chase your hand down. If I get even a low pair in my starting hand, say my start is 55k, and I don't see any other 5s out yet I will call single bets hoping that I will draw my card. I have found playing any pairs in Stud poker is a good thing. Even if I don't make my trip, I find that I usually make at least 2 pair, and a lot of the time I win.

Getting dealt a made hand in the first 5 cards gives you a lot of different options. You can usually read if you have the best hand, and this opens up the option of slow-playing for you. I have found Stud poker players to be very aggressive with their pairs, so slow-playing is easier than you might think in this game. All you have to do is check your made hand and let everyone else do the betting. Chime in on 6th or 7th street with a raise to maximize the amount of money or chips you will win in this situation.

Poor Stud Poker Strategies

The following Stud poker strategy is not one I like to use but see other players use all the time - playing any 3 starting cards and sucking out to the river hoping to make a winning hand. As I mentioned before, Stud poker is run on fixed limits, so it is very cheap to suck a hand out. I have watched players start with hands like 82J who have drawn the winner by the river. This is playing on pure luck and is not recommended unless you are playing in VERY cheap limits and are in the mood for bingo gambling.

Stud can be a very dry, boring game with not a lot of action. The key is patience. If you can wait for the hands you like to play, and not play any 3 staring cards because you are bored, then you are already one step ahead of the game. Don't be afraid to limp in with untraditional starting cards - playing hands that the other players aren't expecting you to play is how you are going to win pots.

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