Starting Hands in Seven Card Stud

7 Stud Starting HandsA solid winning strategy in Seven Card Stud begins with your starting hand strategy. Starting hand strategy is vital because the first three cards you receive represent nearly half the cards you’re going to see in your hand.

When you start out with strong hands, you are more likely to improve to even stronger hands and win big pots.

Tight is Right

New Seven Card Stud players like to play lots of hands because they believe that anything can happen. That may be true but if you want to become a profitable poker player, you need to be restrictive in which hands you play. A loose starting hand strategy loses money because it costs money to play those hands and they rarely win.

Additionally, weak hands get you into difficult situations on later streets. If you start out with a mediocre hand, the odds are you’re going to end up with a mediocre hand. You’ll then have to make tough decisions, which will lead to you losing money over the long run.

A tight starting hand strategy, on the other hand, leads to profitable play on later streets. Your strong starting hands are likely to become even stronger and your decisions on later streets will generally be easier. In the end, you will make more money over the long run with a tight starting hand strategy.

Strong Starting Hands

So what makes a strong starting hand in Seven Card Stud? Well, the answer depends partially on the table conditions but there are some general rules of thumb that will take you a long ways.

First of all, you want hands that have potential. Look for three starting cards that work well together. If they are all suited, contain a large pair or even three of a kind, they are strong hands. Low suited hands should usually be avoided but high suited hands are pretty strong.

The best starting hand in Seven Card Stud is the three of a kind. It starts out as a very strong hand and it can improve to become even better. Plus, the hand is well-concealed. You’ll see three of a kind but your opponents will only see a single card. They will have no idea what you have.

Speaking of which, concealed hands are always slightly more desirable than obvious hands. For example, if you start out with two Aces in the hole, you’ll be in great shape. Your opponents will have no idea how strong your hand truly is. With rolled up pairs like that, your opponents will often underestimate you and call more bets.

Don’t forget to look at your opponents’ hands as well. Before you make the decision to play a hand, look at each player’s up card. If you have an Ace but see three other Aces out there, you’re probably not going to be making a pair of Aces any time soon.

You’ll also want to note this when considering playing flush and straight draw hands. If you see two or more of your outs already out there, you should usually fold your drawing hand. The odds of you making your draw drop significantly when two or more of your outs are already gone.


Aggression wins money in all forms of poker. To play with aggression means that you bet and raise with your strong hands and fold your weak hands. Passive plays like calls should be kept to a minimum. This sounds like an obvious strategy but many new players fall into the calling syndrome. They call bet after bet with trashy hands, hoping to get lucky and hit a big hand.

Winning players know when to fold and you should strive to as well. If you have a hand that isn’t going anywhere, there’s no point in calling bets on long shot draws. Just save yourself the money and get out early. This will make a big impact in your long term win rate.

At the same time, don’t be afraid to bet when you are dealt strong hands. This is especially true in low limit games where the players rarely fold. Strong hands are more likely to win the pot than most hands so you should get money in the pot as soon as possible. You won’t win every pot, but you’ll win enough to be a profitable player.

With hands like three of a kind, three high suited connectors and big pairs, you should be willing to bet early for two reasons: first you want value for your hand and second you want to cut your opponents’ drawing odds. If you fail to bet, you miss out on value and you give your opponents a free shot at outdrawing you.

Smaller hands and draws should be played with more caution. Your hand has potential, but you should wait to see how it develops before you get too aggressive with it. Remember to keep an eye on the pot odds, the drawing odds and your opponents’ up cards.


Winning Seven Card Stud players are tight in their hand selection but aggressive when they do play hands. This is also called the tight-aggressive style. In all forms of poker, the tight-aggressive style wins money. It sets you up with strong hands and then it extracts money with those hands through aggressive betting.

Now that you have a solid starting hand strategy, learn about playing fourth street in Seven Stud.

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