Stud-8 or Better Poker
Strategy lesson by Jennifer
Harman. Basics of Play for
Stud 8. 7 Card Stud/8 or
Better may look a lot like its
cousin 7-Stud,  but there are
some big differences between
the two games. Learn to play
stud 8 poker.
Learn to Play Stud 8 Poker
Poker Strategy Article by Jennifer Harman
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Tips From The Pros
Jennifer Harman
Lesson: 38
Getting Started in Stud-8

Stud-8 or Better is a great game. The rules are nearly identical to regular
7-Card Stud, but there's one key difference. At showdown, the pot is split;
half is given to the player with the best high, and half to the player with the
best low. In order to take a portion of the pot, a low hand must have no card
higher than an 8. If there is no qualifying low, the high hand takes the entire

With players aiming for both high and low hands, Stud-8 invites a lot of
action. But beginning players, even those with some 7-Card Stud experience,
often come to a Stud-8 table with a poor understanding of what hands do
well in this split-pot game.

To understand what types of hands you should play in Stud-8, you must
grasp this key concept: In Stud-8, you're looking to scoop pots. By scoop, I
mean that you want to take both the high and the low halves of the pot.
That's where you're going to make your real profit.

The starting hands that are most likely to make you the sole winner of a big
pot contain three low suited connectors. For example, As-2s-3s and 4h-5h-6h
have great potential. They'll often make unbeatable lows and have a flush or
a straight to go along with them. So, if you see a hand that starts with three
low suited cards, look to play it aggressively.

You should play hands with three low cards, especially those that include an
Ace. A starting hand like Ac-2d-7c may not have potential to make a flush, but
there is a good chance that you'll create a solid low. And the Ace gives you a
shot at a decent high, with something like Aces-up. Even a hand like 4-5-7
has enough of an opportunity to make both straights and lows to make it

The major mistake that new Stud-8 players make is that they play
aggressively with hands that might serve them well in a regular game of
7-Card Stud. For instance, a hand like T-J-Q plays well when you only need to
be concerned about creating a high hand. But in Stud-8, this is a hand that
should be mucked. With no chance of making a low, a player could find
himself chasing a draw that would only net half the pot. Those sorts of
situations will often lead to dreadful results.

Big pairs, like Jacks, Queens and Kings, are also difficult to play in Stud-8. A
quick example will illustrate the problem big pairs present. Say you're dealt a
Queen and a 7 in the hole, and another Queen as your up-card, giving you a
pair. After the betting on third street, two other players remain, one showing
a 5, the other a 3. This appears to be a good situation for you, as the other
two seem to be looking for lows. But then, on fourth street, the player who
had a 3 catches an Ace and you find a 9. Now you're in a very difficult spot.
The Ace might have helped your opponent's low draw and perhaps added a
straight draw to his hand. Or it might have paired an Ace he had in the hole.
It would be difficult to know where you stand. Even if you were ahead, you
need to be concerned that your opponent will pair the Ace or hit a straight
before the end of the hand.

If you're going to play big pairs in Stud-8, proceed with caution. Be ready to
dump the hand if one or more of your opponents develop a scary board.

The later streets in Stud-8 can be lot of fun as players try to figure out how
their opponents' hands are developing. It takes practice and experience to
become a good Stud-8 player. But if you follow the suggestions for starting
hands I discussed here, you should be on your way to playing Stud-8

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