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7 Card Stud Strategy

Playing Style
There are a thousand hands in Stud and as many ways to advise a player on their playing strategy. It eventually boils down to two options: Bull or Bear.

The Bear
This player is conservative, takes risks only when there's something to back it up. The streets play a huge role in determining the player's action in this style of play.

At the Third Street , the tight player is left with a simple choice. The player questions to himself if he has the goods? The Bear bets only if he is holding Trips, three to a Flush or Straight, a high Pair or two of the highest cards (A-K). In any other case they fold without a second thought.

On Fourth Street , the Bear asks to himself whether they've improved their initial hand, still appear to lead and have a solid chance of bringing it home. Only Trips, four to a Flush or Straight, Two Pair and no visible competition can justify a bet at this point. Otherwise, for the bear, the hand is over and nothing significant has been risked.

The rest of the streets are expensive and the bear must believe that he is holding the nuts , the winning hand. If the bear is still trying to draw the hand, he'll only continue if it's cheap to do so. He will check if the cards he needs are still alive, and the up cards pose no significant threat. Any other situation and they are gone.

Playing tight is nothing more than risk minimization. No serious betting is undertaken without the cards to back it up. Fold if the betting gets too steep, if the cards are going against you and also if you're running out of time and still don't have the cinch hand.

The Bull
A Bull is an aggressive player, in contrast to the Bear. For a bear what in hand is important, but gives equal importance to assess how his cards appear to other players. The bullish player manipulates expectations of other participants as much as they manage their own cards. Bulls follow a Raise or Fold policy, forcing opponents to either pay up or muck out.

The key to bullish play is careful card analysis in addition to knowing his game as well as the tight player does. The Bull asks himself a series of questions like how do my cards appear to my opponent? Am I supporting that perception with my actions? Is my opponent falling for it? How can I use expectations of my opponents to get more money on the table?

Bullish players make playing Stud a roller-coaster ride with lots of highs and lows coupled with ecstasy, tensions and apprehensions. They demand the most of a player's powers of card analysis, observation, and psychological deception.

Which strategy is better - Bull or Bear?
The questions that come to your mind are - Is it better to be a "rock", play very conservatively and risk the money only when you've got the nuts. Is it better to play aggressively, only Folding or Raising, almost never Checking, and forcing other players to muck out or pony up?

A beginner might think that tight play is a better approach, in reality, it's not necessarily so. The plus is that you'll get the reputation of being a "rock" but very less people enjoy playing with someone who is always on his toes. The minus is that you're probably going to lose. When your opponents can predict your card decisions they will draw a huge advantage, which will put your money in their pocket.

Professional players favor Bullish play. The main intention of bullish players is to force more money out onto the table by choosing the Raise or Fold policy. Since professional players style of play is far less predictable, they have more area to maneuver, more ways to attack, more opportunities to use your expectations against you. It is a proven fact that Bullish play and rock solid card skills wins the money.

Reading the Players
Mannerisms or anything that evinces a player's feelings or intentions away is referred to as a tell . It is imperative for a budding player to read these as it forms a key component of Poker play. When you are playing online, you are at a disadvantage that you're don't have direct access to this information, which results in changing the dynamics of the game a bit.

There can still be ways to gain the type of information you are looking for. In most Online Poker Games, the chat box that appears can be a dead give-away. There will be games where players would invariably jump on the chat box as soon as they read their cards and have a good hand. They're optimistic and would love to share their good feelings with others. Your best bet as a shrewd Poker player lies in absorbing this information and uses it to gain a playing edge.

You would also witness players who would jump on and cuss the cards whenever they think that they had received something good. The player is actually trying to lull other players into thinking they've got him beat. Again the same style hold good. You should be alert to use what you know about his playing style to beat him and take his money.

The big question is to bluff or not to bluff?
The bluffing do's and don't in a poker could fill a small book on their own. The following are a few of the most important things that you should keep in mind.

You should avoid bluffing heavy winners. They can afford to Call and rest assured they usually do.

Beware that beginners are often desperate to know what you've got and will Call just for the sake of knowing.

Most experienced players play a cagey game. They tend to study your actions more closely and with careful manipulations are often easier to bluff.

You should ask yourself as to how good your cards might look to the other players. It is highly recommended that you don't bluff without at least a little something in your hand to make it look threatening.

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