May, 2013 - As you should already be aware of, proper starting hand selection is key to being successful at Stud Hi-Lo. Starting hand selection is just the first step. In many cases, your hand is still a drawing hand. As such, you need to know how long you should stay in a hand when you are playing a strong starter. First, let's look at 3-4-5. You have sixteen outs to improve to some type of straight. You have 20 outs to improve to a reasonable low. 24 outs to improve to any low. You have four cards left in the hand. In order to make a hand, you must catch two out of the next four cards. If you improve on fourth street to a four low or four straight, you have three chances to make your hand.
What happens if you do not improve on fourth? Let's say you catch a 10. Now you have to catch two cards out of the next three in order to make your hand. You are looking at having to catch 66.6% of your remaining hand perfect in order to make your hand. If you don't improve on fifth, then you must catch perfect on the last two cards to make a hands.
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This boils down to one simple, but powerful concept in Stud H/L and that is improve on fourth street or get out. Many of you that are relatively new to this game will view this as an incredibly tight way to play, especially if you are a former Stud player. In Stud high, many players will try to play until fifth street to improve or get out.
Stud Hi-Lo differs in Stud due to the fact that your object is to scoop. If you start with 3-4-5, you have to improve to some type of straight to have a shot to scoop most pots. Yes, you can on some occasions improve to two pair and even a full house, but those are rare. In stud high, many players will shy away from 3-4-5 for a high hand. If they start with K-Q-J, they will go to fifth not only to try and improve to their straight, but if they catch a pair of kings or queens, they may be good. Improving to a pair of fives in Stud Hi-Lo is rarely going to scoop. If you stay until fifth and catch, you are flipping a coin to catch your hand assuming that your outs are live.
Improving your hand on fourth street leaves you needing 33% of your cards to hit in order to make a hand. You will almost always have the odds to call down to make your hand at this point. If you don't improve to fifth, you almost never have the odds to make a call.
While this seems like a tight strategy to most, getting out of a hand when you fail to improve on fourth street will save you money in the long run. Don't fall into the Stud high trap of calling to fifth street and then leaving yourself flipping coins for the pot. Play smart and give yourself the best chance to scoop pots. Improve on fourth street or fold.
It is important that you have a basic understanding of the odds in Seven Card Stud Hi Lo. For example, what are the odds of catching a pair on 4th Street or 5th Street in Stud or Stud HL? I cannot give you the exact odds because they will change if one of the other players has one of your cards in a different suit. Here are some basic Stud HL odds that are not subject to change. Knowing these odds will give you a fairly accurate picture of the hand odds for 4th, 5th or even 6th Street in all of the Stud poker games, except 5 Card Stud of course.
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