McHaffie: MCU lesson 124 / Try seven stud

Note: Not at the old Poker1 site. A version of this entry was first published in Poker Player newspaper in 2008.

This is part of a series by Diane McHaffie. She wasn’t a poker player when she began writing this series. These entries chronicle the lessons given to her personally by Mike Caro. Included in her remarkable  poker-learning odyssey are additional comments, tips, and observations from Mike Caro.

Diane McHaffie index.

Diane McHaffie is Director of Operations at Mike Caro University of Poker, Gaming, and Life Strategy. She has traveled the world coordinating events and seminars in the interest of honest poker. You can write her online at

Diane McHaffie

Lessons from MCU

— With bonus content by Mike Caro (pending) —

Lesson 124: Try seven stud

There are many varieties of poker at your disposal, not just hold ‘em. It can prove profitable for you to become knowledgeable about some of them.

In seven-stud you are dealt three cards, two down and one up. If playing $2/$4, you’ll have an opportunity to bet or raise in quantities of $2 up until the fifth card and by $4 thereafter. Typically, you’ll ante a quarter. Then the person with the lowest card will “bring it in” by making a forced initial wager, usually a dollar.


After being dealt your fourth, fifth, sixth and seventh cards, there will be more opportunities to bet. Your seventh card will be dealt to you face down. Seven stud is almost never played as no-limit, so bet sizes are pre-established.

It’s a good idea to observe a game of seven stud before joining, as you’ll want to see if the table is loose, as those games are the most profitable. At small limits, most of the players are here just to enjoy the game and aren’t sophisticated enough to be a monetary threat.


When playing seven stud one of the most important decisions will be whether you choose to play the first three cards. When making this decision there are three things that Mike says you should consider first: a) The strength of your hand; b) Your position relative to the highest card on the table (which will bet first on subsequent rounds); and c) Your opponents’ exposed cards.

Also take into account the number of participating opponents. Mike says slow playing big pairs is usually a mistake. You can call and entice others into the pot if you’re holding an ace-high three-flush, a straight-flush possibility, a fairly high straight start in sequence, like Q-J-10, or three of a kind. Although you will often slow play (just call) with a small three of a kind, you should usually raise with higher trips, because players are suspicious if you don’t routinely raise with high cards.

Two suited cards make a better starting hand than three unsuited cards. Many players don’t take this into account when determining the importance of their hand. On average, your chances of making a flush with two suited cards to start are slightly better than when you begin suited in hold ’em. Of course, you need to take into consideration how many of your desired suits are among opponents’ up cards. More than two is a bad sign.


With a large buried (face down) pair, Mike advises often being sneaky and calling instead of going with your first instinct to raise. You’ll probably find it more profitable if you play it cool, and call, allowing more players into the pot. This is especially advisable if you’re playing in a rake (where the casino takes a portion of the pot) game.

If your opponent has two larger exposed cards than the smaller pair that you’re holding, you should usually fold. You could also be holding two pairs hoping to make a full house, but if you’re opponent has a bigger pair showing, he could easily make — or already hold — two pair that beats you.

It’s necessary that you consider your options each step of the way. Can you profit by staying in the hand with the cards you’re holding? On 3rd and 5th street you should think about whether it’s more worthwhile to toss the hand. Fifth Street is vitally important because if you’re playing in a limit game the stakes double here. If you decide to continue playing, then you need to reflect on how you’re going to play.

One of the most common errors made in seven stud is failing to call frequently on the final card. Usually the amount that it costs to call is far outweighed by the generosity of the pot.

If you haven’t tried seven stud it’s time to take the plunge and give it a try! — DM

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