Third Street in Seven Stud
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Perry Friedman
Poker Lesson #26
Third Street in Seven Stud


For those of you who are unfamiliar with seven-card stud, there are some
betting quirks in the game that you should understand. During the opening
round of betting (also called "third street"), the player with the lowest up
card is forced to act first. There are two choices: Bet the "bring-in" amount
(which is usually one-third of the full bet) or "complete" the bet (make it a full
bet). If the player chooses to bet the bring-in amount, another player has the
option of completing the bet. Note that this is not considered a raise,
because it is only increasing the initial bet to one full bet. This means there is
still a bet and three remaining raises allowed during the opening round.

You should almost never bring in for a completion in Stud Hi, except in very
rare tournament situations. There are a number of reasons for this, including
the need to conceal the strength of your hand and the desire to keep your
options open later in the round.

If you make it a habit only to bring in for a completion when you have a good
hand, an astute player will pick up on this and will steal from you every time
you don't complete the bring-in. Conversely, if you always complete the bet,
you are throwing away money when you are forced in, which is usually when
you have a bad hand since you already have the lowest up card.

Furthermore, bringing in for a completion limits your betting options. If you
bring in for the minimum and someone else completes the bet, you can raise
back for a full bet, whereas your opponent can only complete for a partial
bet. You can also decide to slow play your hand if someone completes.
Completing the bet exposes you to being raised back a full bet. By always
bringing in for the minimum, you do not give away the strength of your hand
and leave your options open on third street.

When playing in a live ring game, I will seldom even look at my down cards
when I am the bring-in. Whether or not you look at your cards first is a
matter of personal preference, but by not looking, you can't give a tell.
However, one of the important aspects of stud is being aware of what cards
have already been dealt out to your opponents. If you decide not to look at
your hole cards, you should still peruse the table and take inventory of what
cards are already out.

For some people, cataloguing all the up cards may be a tedious and
exhausting process, and they will prefer to look at their down cards first so
that they immediately know which key cards will improve their hand, or if they
even have a playable hand at all. The only flaw with this shortcut is that
when you do have a playable hand, you need to be aware of what your key
cards are and know which cards will help or hurt your opponents. I
recommend getting in the habit of always mentally keeping track of all of the
up cards.

In heads-up play, keeping track of the cards is much simpler; they are always
there to see and you don't need to remember who folded which cards. This
makes it even less important to check your down cards before acting.

In online play, you will always be aware of your down cards, but you should
still get in the practice of tracking your opponents' cards. One way to keep
the game interesting - and to work on your skills at the same time - is to
track all the cards even when you are out of the hand. As the hand
progresses, try to figure out what hands your opponents are likely playing. At
the showdown, you can see how well your reading skills are coming along.

Stud can be a very enjoyable and interesting game, but it relies less on
intuition and more on keeping your mind focused and your eyes open.

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