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7 Card Stud

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Here are some hints to help you stay afloat and possibly win a pot or two at 7 Card Stud that you might not otherwise have won. Bluff very little in low-limit Stud. For some reason, players at the low limits, especially casual, infrequent players (tourists) don't like to fold. They seem to think that because they're playing 7-card Stud, they have to see all seven cards. Because of this, there's plenty of opportunity for them to take a mediocre hand to the river (seventh street) and drown your hand.

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Know your opponents. If you're in a game with a bunch of easy-going, affable, devil-may-care fun seekers, play a relatively tight cautious game. As with bluffing, you can get into trouble with your strong and semi-strong hand against players who don't know the meaning of fold. If you're playing against "rocks" (they never play anything but the "nuts" or very best cards), don't be afraid to be aggressive. Sure, they might be sitting on a pair of aces once in a while, but not every hand. Your mid-range hands can get the best of rocks because if they don't improve by the fourth or fifth card, or if you make them think you have a really good hand, they're going to give up. Mix up your play. More than half of the 7-card Stud hands go to the final card, at which point, it's show and tell. Since other players will be able to see what you've been playing, they might be able to guess what you will play, based on that information. So, if it's cheap enough, showdown a drawing hand or even a paltry low pair to make them think you're a "gambler." Don't give up any information.

If you don't have to show your cards, don't -- unless you want your opponents to get misinformation. The less they know about you and your style of play, the better off you are. This doesn't just apply to the cards at hand. It applies to your whole personality. Don't chew your lip when you're contemplating what to do with a pair of sixes; don't get angry and toss your loss into the muck; don't accuse the dealer of giving you bad cards. In short, hide your personality as tightly as you hide your hole cards. The less of a psychology bead your opponents have, the better. By the same token, get as much on them as you can. Don't drink and play.

There are few sorrier sights than poker players giving away their money because they're too drunk to know what they're doing. If you need a drink to relax you, by all means, do what you must, but don't overdo. Besides, even if you're giving away your money, nobody likes a loudmouth or sloppy player. Too many Bloody Marys and you might be asked to leave the game. Don't expect to get rich in the low-limit games. Figure to make the equivalent of one big bet per hour. If you're playing $1-4 Stud, that translates into $4 per hour. If you get hot and exceed that, by all means, cash in, take a walk and, if you still feel lucky, start over. (You're not allowed to take chips off the table until you leave the table.) Think and act like a winner.

Don't whine when you lose; don't cheer when you win. Have a positive attitude. And if the cards don't do what they're supposed to do, take a break. The poker room will be there when you get back. Go grab a sandwich (but don't overload on carbohydrates that could put you into a slumber mood); watch a race or part of a game in the sports book. Wash your face. You can leave your chips on the table for at least 30 minutes. If you're gone longer, the brush or floor man will pick them up and "lock" them up for you. Be as fresh as you can be when you sit down, and leave the game when you're too tired to think straight -- or when you've made a handsome profit.

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