Betting decisions on sixth and seventh streets in seven-card stud
|The final face-down card adds an element of mystery and makes your decisions more reliant on guesswork|
We’ve previously looked at how to play on fifth street, which is a key decision point in seven-card stud, as the bet size doubles and calling here will often price you in to continuing all the way to seventh street (due to the sheer size of the pot). However, if you do stay in there are still some key decisions to make on sixth street and seventh street (where you are dealt a final face-down card), and because of the larger bet size it is still very important that you play them correctly.
As we have already established, calling any bet on fifth street will make the pot very big and you will rarely be folding on sixth street. Assuming you have made a good decision on fifth street and have some kind of a hand, you will usually have the odds to chase if you are behind. As such, your decisions at this point will typically be between betting, check- calling and check-raising if you are first to act, and checking, calling or raising if an opponent acts first.
When you are heads-up and first to act you should obviously bet if you think you are ahead or if you have a scary board and believe there is some chance your opponent may fold. However, if you are less sure then check-calling is the best option, since your opponent will bet many hands in this spot anyway, and you will avoid getting raised when you are against a better hand.
Check-raising is a riskier play, as you need to be quite sure your opponent will bet a worse hand if checked to, either because your hand is well concealed and his board is scary or because he is naturally aggressive. However, the move becomes more advantageous if there is any chance he will fold to this show of strength where he might call a single bet.
When another player acts first and you are heads-up you should play according to the strength of your hand. That is, you should bet your strong and medium- strength hands when your opponent checks and raise with your very strong hands when he bets. Sixth street is interesting in seven-card stud in that the first player to act will also be first to act on seventh street, as the boards stay the same (and the first to act is the player with the strongest up cards). As such, a raise here will often deliver you a free card on seventh street, giving you the chance to check the river if you don’t improve. However, you should usually only do this when you have a strong draw or a pair and a draw.
In a multi-way pot there are other considerations. A key strategy in stud is to try and knock players out of the hand by forcing them to call two bets, thereby denying them of the odds to continue drawing. This can be achieved by betting if you believe the player immediately after you will raise or check-raising if the player to your right is likely to bet. However, you should not attempt this if your hand is a long way behind another player’s or the third player clearly has a made hand and is unlikely to fold.
When out of position you should normally only bet out very strong hands or scary-looking boards. In position you should also bet medium-strength hands when checked to and occasionally raise to get a free card with a strong draw
On seventh street you are dealt a final face-down card, which adds an element of mystery to the final betting round and makes your decisions more reliant on guesswork and your opinion of your opponent. However, you still have the same options as you did on sixth street, depending on whether you are first or last to act and whether it’s a heads-up or multi-way pot.
When you are heads-up and first to act you should usually continue betting your strong hands (two pair or better) and also bet hands like one big pair if you believe your opponent will usually call with a smaller pair. You will typically get small pairs to call in cases where your hand is well concealed, your opponent is quite loose or your up cards show some potential missed draws.
If you have bet most of the way with a strong draw that missed, but there is a reasonable chance your opponent will fold, then clearly you should bluff. If, however, you have a made hand and it is likely that he will fold one-pair hands to a bet but bet them for value when you check, then you should usually check-call.
Check-raising on seventh street is best reserved for situations where you do not have the betting lead and have improved to a well-disguised hand (like concealed trips) and believe your opponent will bet. Although against an aggressive opponent who makes a lot of thin value bets you may do it in other spots too.
When another player acts first and you are heads-up you should rarely fold for one bet unless you are certain you are beaten or your opponent has a dry board or you know their playing tendencies very well. However, you should only raise a bet when you think you have the best hand a good majority of the time and your opponent is likely to pay off. If you raise you will now risk getting three-bet by a better hand and worse hands will sometimes fold anyway. You should only bluff-raise here against opponents who are likely to value-bet thinly and are capable of folding to a raise.
When your opponent checks you should value-bet liberally with your strong and medium-strength hands, including big pairs and even small two pairs if your opponent is likely to pay you off with worse hands. However, beware of players who like to check-raise. You should rarely bluff in this spot as most of the time your opponent will check-call with better hands because of the size of the pot, or fold worse hands that you were beating anyway.
In a multi-way pot on seventh street you should only value-bet your strong or well-disguised medium-strength hands into multiple players and rarely bluff, as someone will usually call you. However, you can once again think about knocking out players who might fold a hand that is beating you by raising and check-raising – although with a marginal hand you should think about whether you are closing the action (last to act) when you are faced with a bet, as you may need to call more bets before showdown. If you do face a bet out of position you should be inclined to fold marginal hands immediately, although you need to be quite sure you are not winning before you do so.
You should rarely bluff on seventh street, and unless you have no hand or a strong read on your foe you should normally call for one bet. In multi-way pots you should only value-bet with strong and well-disguised medium-strength hands