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Stud Poker Strategy is all about understanding the odds. Because every a player can see the the majority of the cards in all the other player’s hands, they should have a good idea of exactly where they are at any given time. Many times, it is easy to see if you’re behind in the hand just by looking at the other players.

Counting Cards in Stud Poker

Everyone likes to think of themselves as a card counter, but Stud Poker is one of the few poker games where knowing what cards are out of play will actually payoff. Always keep track of what cards every player has in their hand. When someone folds, make a mental note of what was showing before they muck their hand.

Knowing what cards have already been dealt will help you understand your odds of winning or making a hand. If a player is wondering if he can draw out for a flush, he should just look around the table – are there five or more cards of the suit he needs visible in other player’s hands? If it would be unwise to hope for anyone making the flush. The same theory applies to making straights.

Similarly, you can reverse this on other players and feel more comfortable betting aggressively against someone who has three hearts face-up if you see that other players have hearts in their hand as well.

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Using Your Hole Cards

Having “aces in the hole” or other strong cards hidden in your hand can help a player create effective and profitable traps. Any two pair hidden out of sight can help you surprise a player with a disguised full house or better. Feel free to bet aggressively for the first few streets of Stud Poker with a high pair or suited connectors in the hole. However, do not be afraid to give them up. Stud Poker is a game of the nuts, and if you only have a pair of aces at the river, winning the hand has become very unlikely.

Bluffing in Stud Poker

If your up cards portray a good hand, it is possible for a player to bluff the pot. For example, in 7-card stud a visible hand of 6-7-8-9 will lead every other player to assume that a straight has been made, even if hand has been missed in both directions. Aggressive betting in this situation could put a player off their better hand on the next street. Beware of players who call, however. If they think they have your fabricated straight beat, they definitely have whatever you are actually betting with dominated.

Learn Through Experience

The best way to understand Stud Poker strategy is to play! For that, we suggest singing up for a website like PokerStars and taking advantage of their freeroll tournaments or playing at Bodog with play money. Without putting yourself out there against other opponents, you’ll never master the game. After you’ve begun to get a hang of it, it is easy to deposit and begin playing on the low stakes tables!

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