Playing Fifth Street in Seven Card Stud

(This article is a follow up to "Seven Card Stud Fourth Street Strategy")

Fifth Street StrategyBy the time you make it to fifth street, your hand should be pretty well defined. If you don’t already have a made hand, you should at least know what type of hand you are drawing to. It’s important to have a plan at this point because from here on out, all bets double in size. This is where your big hands become twice as valuable and your mistakes become twice as expensive.

Fifth Street with a Weak Hand

There is no reason to continue on in fifth street without a strong draw or a made hand. The bets are much larger and you have fewer cards to improve your hand. Three-card draws are now weak hands because you need perfect cards on sixth and seventh street to complete your hand. The bets are too large and the odds are too stacked against you to make sticking around with three card draws profitable. Just fold and save yourself the money. That’s what tight-aggressive play is all about.

The only decent chance you have of winning is making a well-timed bluff. If there is only one other opponent in the pot and your board looks stronger than his, a bluff might win the pot. If there are multiple people in the pot, your board looks weak or if your opponent is a calling station, don’t waste the money.

Fifth Street with a Decent Hand

With hands like big pairs and two-pair, there’s still a chance you have the best hand but you need to continue forward with caution. The correct play here depends on what happened on fourth street, what up-cards your opponents are showing and the current betting action.

If you took the lead on fourth street by betting, you can place another bet on fifth street if it looks like none of your opponents improved. You might as well continue the pressure and prevent them from drawing cheaply. At the same time, don’t get too attached to your hand. Fifth street bets are expensive and you don’t want to get stuck in a betting battle with an iffy hand.

Fifth Street with a Four Card Draw

The correct play for a four card draw on fifth street can include checking, folding, calling, betting or raising. I know that doesn’t help much but the correct play really depends on several factors:

  • The strength of your draw
  • The size of the bets in relation to the size of the pot
  • The number of people in the pot
  • The likelihood of you getting paid if you hit
  • Your opponents’ up cards
  • Your opponents’ betting action

You can call with your draw if the bet is small in relation to the pot and you are drawing to the nuts or close to the nuts. Before you make any calls, make sure to check the board for your outs. You do not want to call if the cards you need are already out there.

Against a single opponent, a raise is sometimes an even better play. If your opponent is tight and your board looks threatening, you can bet or raise as a semi-bluff. The advantage here is that your opponent might fold right away, giving you the pot without a fight. Even if your semi-bluff is unsuccessful, it might buy you a free card by making your opponent scared to bet on the next street.

With weak four card draws or when there is heavy betting action, you should lean towards folding your draw. It might look like a pretty draw, but it will cost you good money if you draw to a second-best hand or chase against the odds. Tight, patient play is the key to success.

Fifth Street with a Made Hand

With a made hand such as a flush, straight or full house, your only question now is how to extract the most with your hand. You’re nearly locked to win the pot. There’s always a chance someone will catch an even bigger hand, but that’s not worth worrying about. All you need to focus on is getting paid.

Your two options are to start betting now or to wait until sixth street to start betting. There are good arguments for both actions. If you start betting now, the pot will be larger by the time you get to the showdown. The one problem with this is that you risk scaring your opponents away.

Slow playing your hand for one street can potentially make the pot even bigger if it allows one of your opponents to catch a strong but second best hand. The catch with this play is that you run the risk of missing out on an extra bet if your opponent already has a decent hand.

Three of a kind is one hand that I don’t recommend you slow play. It’s definitely a strong hand and will most likely win the pot but it’s still susceptible to draws. Against one or two opponents a slow play is a viable option but beyond that, you should probably bet to charge the draws.

Now that you know about playing fifth street, learn how to play sixth street.

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