Seven Card Stud Tournament Strategy

*Note – Most poker sites use blinds instead of antes for Seven Card Stud tournaments. In this article, I will always refer to blinds. If your poker site uses antes, keep that fact in mind. The antes will always be smaller than the blinds but they still have the same effect because they are paid by every player every hand.

Seven Card Stud tournaments require intense concentration and a strong sense of discipline. With the blinds escalating every few minutes, the pressure of tournament play is much greater than that of ring games. Even so, Seven Card Stud tournaments are immensely popular because they give every player in the tournament a chance to win a lot of money with a small investment.

In Texas Hold'em, the general strategy is to play tight in the early stages and increase the aggression later on. The correct strategy for Seven Stud tournaments isn’t so simple. The difference with Seven Stud is that you can’t wait as long as you do in ring games for strong hands thanks to the increasing blinds. At the same time, it’s difficult to bluff your way to victory as the majority of your hands are dealt face up for the world to see.

For you to become a solid Seven Card Stud tournament player, you must play a very intelligent, aware game. You have to stay patient in the face of pressure but still know when to make aggressive moves. The following sections will explain various aspects of tournament play and hopefully help you navigate the fine line between tight and aggressive tournament strategy.

Adjust to Your Opponents

Make it a conscious effort to identify and categorize the playing styles of your opponents. Note what types of hands each opponent plays and how each opponent reacts to pressure. You’ll find that some players can be pushed around while others will fight for every chip they have.

The more you pay attention to your opponents, the better off you’ll be as the blinds grow larger. You can raise and bluff the tight players out of the pot when they have the blinds and nobody else has yet entered the pot. The extra blinds will help pad your stack and keep you from being eaten up by the increasing blinds.

As the tables are moved and switched around, you’ll have to study new players and start over each time. That’s fine – everybody will go through the same thing. Just stay alert and observant. You will soon be able to quickly identify the tightwads at each table.

Against aggressive opponents, you have to either avoid them or out-muscle them. The easiest strategy is to just avoid them but that only works if there are several tightwads for you to attack. Sometimes you’ll just be stuck at bad tables and have no choice but to face off against aggressive players. In that case, your best bet is to re-raise them occasionally and show that you are willing to take a stand.

Always Be Aware of Stack Sizes

Always be aware of the blinds and know how many blinds your stack is worth. Make sure that you are also aware of upcoming blind increases. A single increase in the blinds can effectively cut your chip stack in half.

The larger the blinds are, the more chips you have to commit to play in pots. As the blinds get larger, you won’t be able to play as many streets because you don’t have enough chips to play through five betting rounds.

Near the end of the tournament, the blinds will be so large that you will have no choice but to push all-in early in the hand. The blinds make the pots so big that any bet basically puts you all-in. In these late stages, you must either go all-in or fold. There is no middle ground and folding is not an option once you have entered the pot. A single wrong move during the late stages will send you straight to the sidelines.

Even so, don’t let the risk of busting out keep you from playing an aggressive game. To win a tournament requires both risk and luck. If you hunker down and try to avoid mistakes by avoiding playing in pots, your stack will be eaten by the blinds. By the time you realize you need to make something happen, your chip stack will be too small to scare anyone away and you’ll be forced to gamble.


The early stages of a Seven Card Stud tournament can be played similarly to ring games with the exception of draws. In tournaments, you have to be careful with draws because you cannot afford to waste chips on draws that are unlikely to complete. Some people say you should call with draws if you have the correct pot odds but others (including myself) believe there are better ways to get chips. Remember; you can’t reload if you get low.

Later on in a tournament, draws are good blind stealing hands. A lot of the time, you will have to just push all-in to steal the blinds because the blinds are so big in comparison to stack sizes. With a draw backing you up, you have at least some chance to win the pot if your steal attempt is called.

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