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Best of Fred Renzey

Gaming Guru

 

Internet Poker Spawns a Bevy of New 7 Stud Hi/Lo Players

15 May 2004

There are five basic forms of poker played in public card rooms throughout the country. They are Texas Hold'em, Omaha, Omaha Hi/Lo Split, 7 Stud and 7 Stud Hi/Lo Split. Of the five, probably the least played is 7 Stud Hi/Lo Split.

With the rapid spread of internet poker rooms, however, Hi/Lo Stud is gaining lots of popularity at all stakes. Stud 8-or-better, as it is called, is a game the recreational players like because of its sociable two-way format. It's also a game the sharks like because of the many traps that a "fish" can fall into.

Today, several internet poker sites have Stud 8-or-better games at stakes ranging from play money to $10/$20 or higher. If you're a straight Stud player transitioning over to Stud 8-or-better, there's a big adjustment to make in playing strategy -- particularly regarding starting hand selection. Lots of three card starts that normally be a good 7 Stud hand are just sucker's bait in Stud 8-or-better. A good case in point: most of your high pairs.

Oh, that's not to say you can never play a pair of Kings, but you really should throw them away the majority of times. The thing of it is, low starting hands have a huge edge over high starting hands in this game. That's because a low hand can always turn into a high hand, but because of the 8 qualifier for low, a hand like 9-K/K can never, ever make a low. To illustrate this point, consider the two following starting hands:

   HIGH HAND      LOW HAND   
9-K / K4-5 / 7

It's true, the high hand already has something and the low hand doesn't. At this moment, the high hand is in the driver's seat -- sort of. As we move through the hand card by card, though, the high hand usually loses its edge.

Understand that, on the next card, only five cards can improve the high hand (two Kings and three 9s). The low hand, however, improves with any one of 29 cards. If the low catches one of his 17 "bricks" (non-helpers), he can simply fold after calling only one small bet. Usually though, fourth street will look more like this:

   HIGH HAND      LOW HAND   
9-K / K-44-5 / 7-2

Now the low hand is over 70% to make a qualifying low and the high hand has absolutely no defense against that. So let's move on to a common fifth street scenario:

   HIGH HAND      LOW HAND   
9-K / K-4-104-5 / 7-2-8

At this point the high hand is just praying to get his money back plus half of the antes (by splitting the pot). That's the absolute best he can do. The low hand however, is "freerolling" with an 8 low already made, plus a reasonable chance to improve to a high hand that might win it all.

Notice that a 6 will make the low an 8-high straight. If that's not enough, should he pair twice on sixth and seventh streets while the Kings fail to improve, he can scoop the whole pot that way too. All this, and we haven't even mentioned the fact that the low hand will occasionally make a flush. And if all that fails, the low hand still gets half the pot with his 8 low. The key strategic point here is that the low hand should fold if this fourth card is a 9 through King.

The picture gets even bleaker for the high hand when he's up against two three-card lows, such as in the following scenario:

   HIGH HAND      LOW HAND 1      LOW HAND 2   
9-K / KA-4 / 76-7 / 8

Here, there's only 1 chance in 6 that both lows will bust off entirely on fourth street. Worse yet, the 6/7/8 poses a serious high threat to the pair of Kings, not to mention that if the A/4/7 should snag an Ace, the Kings are practically history. So risky are high starting pairs in this game that they shouldn't even be played if more than one low card is already in the pot -- unless -- it's a high pair that looks like this:

K-K / 5

This is a horse of a different color. First, buried Kings with a small kicker looks like a low hand. If it should catch a King, it looks as if it just got weaker when it actually has gotten much stronger. Second, if it catches two more low cards it'll look like a made low and may cause other four-card lows to fold against it. Third, if it makes a small open pair on board, such as K-K / 5-8-5, it'll appear to be a low draw with a small pair. That'll cause other low draws who have also paired to keep coming, thinking they can win if they make two small pair.

Understand that in Stud 8-or-better, every high card you have on board tends to disarm you. But low cards on board always have to be feared.

Internet Poker Spawns a Bevy of New 7 Stud Hi/Lo Players is republished from Online.CasinoCity.com.
Fred Renzey
Fred Renzey is a high-stakes, expert poker player. On a daily basis he faces--and beats--some of the best players in the country in fierce poker room competition. Now for the first time, Renzey offers his perceptive insights on how to play winning poker. For Fred's 13-page blackjack booklet "Ace/10 Front Count", send $9 to Fred Renzey, P.O. Box 598, Elk Grove Village, IL, 60009

Books by Fred Renzey:

Blackjack Bluebook II

> More Books By Fred Renzey

Fred Renzey
Fred Renzey is a high-stakes, expert poker player. On a daily basis he faces--and beats--some of the best players in the country in fierce poker room competition. Now for the first time, Renzey offers his perceptive insights on how to play winning poker. For Fred's 13-page blackjack booklet "Ace/10 Front Count", send $9 to Fred Renzey, P.O. Box 598, Elk Grove Village, IL, 60009

Books by Fred Renzey:

Blackjack Bluebook II

> More Books By Fred Renzey