Playing Seventh Street in Seven Card Stud

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

Seventh Street StrategyThe Seventh Street in Seven Card Stud is important but it’s not as difficult as some of the earlier streets. At this point, you know exactly where your hand stand. The only question is whether the other players have you beat. Busted draws and monsters are easy to play, but hands of middle strength are what separate winners from losers.

Learning how to play your medium-strength hands on 7th Street in 7 Card Stud is important to you becoming a successful poker player. The better you get at playing your medium-strength hands on the last street, the better you’ll get at all aspects of the game. It’s all a matter of hand reading, experience and patience.

Middle-Strength Hands on Seventh Street

These are the most difficult hands to play on the river. Your hand has some value, but you’re not sure how much. Generally, you should think twice before folding your decent hands on seventh street. The reason behind that thinking is that you need to be pretty sure your hand is weak to fold to a single bet on the river. By the time you get to seventh street, the pot is usually pretty large in comparison to the size of the bets.

If your hand has decent showdown value, you can call a single bet on the river more often than you can in Texas Hold'em. With an extra street of betting, the pots tend to get a little bigger in Seven Card Stud so your odds are usually pretty decent when someone bets into you on the river.

Just remember that this doesn’t mean you can become a calling station on the river. You have to become a strong hand reader to know exactly when to fold and when to call. Take note of your opponents’ styles (loose, tight, etc) and their up cards. There’s a big difference between calling a bet from a known bluffer with a crappy board and calling a bet from a rock who is showing two aces and four suited cards.

Strong Hands on Seventh Street

It’s pretty easy to play your strong hands on seventh street. Your opponents either have something or they don’t. There’s no more worrying about chasing them away or extracting bets from drawing hands. Your opponents will either call or not call. All you have to do is bet and raise.

One thing you should consider on the river is whether you should go for the raise or the overcall. This question comes up when you have a strong hand on the river and an opponent in front of you bets. Your choices are to either raise that bet and hope you get into a raising war or to go for the overcall, in which you just call the bet and hope that other people call behind you. Both options have their merits. Let’s take a look at each one:


Raising is always a good, strong play. It will usually get at least another bet from the opponent who bet and it could even possibly induce him to re-raise. The downside to raising is that it will often scare away everyone else at the table. You’ll still get the occasional random call from other players, but it takes more of a hand for other people to call two bets cold.

The Overcall

The overcall can get other people to call, which will capture additional bets for you. It might even get someone else to raise it up. By just calling, you accomplish two things: you look weaker than you are and you give the other players better pot odds to make the call. The downside is that you might miss out on a raising war with the original bettor and you might not get any additional calls from other players.

When deciding between the raise and the overcall, a little hand reading will take you a long ways. Look at the original bettor’s up cards and see if you can tell what he’s representing with his bet. If it looks like he has a strong made hand, a raise is the best idea. If you can’t tell what he has, it’s probably limited to something like three of a kind or two pair. Do the same thing with the players who have to act behind you in order to gauge how likely they are to call.

You can also look at the past betting action to get an idea of how attached each player is to his hand. Players who called down all the way may have been on draws and players who placed bets probably had an actual hand of some sort. Combine that information with the players’ up cards and you’ll have a pretty good idea of how strong each player is.

This is all assuming someone opens the betting in front of you. If you’re the first person to act on seventh street, you have to open up with a bet. An attempted check-raise risks you missing if nobody else bets behind you. You can try the river check-raise every once in a great while, but only when you are at an aggressive table.

Do Not Bluff

Ok, yes, you should bluff every once in a while so you don’t become too predictable, but only if you play against observant opponents. Bluffing on the river is usually a bad idea because in fixed limit, (which is how almost all Seven Card Stud games are played) you can only bet so much money. The pot is just too big for your bets to scare people off.

In small stakes games, it’s an even worse idea to bluff. First of all, small stakes poker players don’t like to fold. Second, the pots are bigger in comparison to the bets because more players stick around and call bets in low games. Third, it’s pointless to bluff for image because small stakes opponents don’t adjust their play to the occasional bluff.

It’s also more difficult to get away with bluffs in Seven Card Stud because four of your cards are turned face up for the world to see. You better have a strong, scary looking board before you try bluffing your opponents out with a single bet.

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