January, 2015 - Split pot card games can be very hard to master and 7 Card Stud H/L is no exception. The important thing to remember about 7 Card Stud Hi-Lo strategy is that the high hand ALWAYS wins and you will only qualify for the low hand (8 or less) sometimes. This means you should always put a little more value on starting hands that consist of pairs, 3 to a flush or 3 of a kind compared to three low cards. This is a very common mistake in 7 Card Stud H/L. Before I get into hand selection and such let me tell you a little about the articles link to below. I have hired some of the best Stud H/L players to help me create the internet's best Stud HL strategy guide. This site also covers 7 Card Stud strategy and Razz poker so be sure to take a look at those guides as well.
I'm not talking about the professional players you see on the TV. I'm talking about the grinders that have earned their reputations at various online poker communities through hundreds of thousands of hands of well played Stud HL. These players are mostly semi-professional players that play 7 Card Stud HL for a living. Since no single Stud H/L strategy that will guarantee success exists I have tried to include ideas and strategic concepts from several players whose strategies tend to differ but the end results are the same (winning). Hopefully this will give you a wide range of weapons in your "Stud HL strategy arsenal".
As I mentioned above the high hand always wins in 7 Card Stud H/L. You can expect to qualify for the low hand around approximately 20% of the time. When you get dealt a pair in Stud Hi-Lo and the other player's up card is low you want to play very aggressively. Most players will make this easy for you because they will raise with a starting hand with 3 low cards. If their upcard is lower than your pair you are mathematically dominating them. There is a small chance that they have a pocket pair higher than yours or 3 low cards to a straight or flush (3-4-5 or Ah, 4h, 6h) so you must base your bets/raises on the cards they receive on 5th and 6th street. If it becomes apparent that they most likely have made their low hand and you have a made high hand, even if it is just a high pair or two pair, you should just call down their bets incase they managed to pull off a straight or flush with their low hand. The information above is based on hand with only you and one other player.
If there are several players in a hand you will have to look at their upcard's and how they are betting to determine if they are going after the low hand or the high hand. This can be tricky at times but in the end you'll guess correctly many more times than you don't. When you have a made high hand in 7 Card Stud H/L and the other player(s) seem to be going after low hands you should always bet/raise/re-raise, unless their upcard's indicate a possible straight or flush.
Starting hands in Stud H-L that include 3 cards under 9 are for the most part over valued by most players. You should always assume that if a player calls your initial bet and has an upcard of 9 or higher they will likely have a pair of nines or a pocket pair. Even if you catch another non-matching low card on 4th street you should probably play a little more passively until you have made a qualifying low hand. I have seen players raise with 3 low cards, bet when they receive another low card on 4th street and keep betting only to end up with a hand like 2-4-5-7-Q-4-10. There is no point to committing a lot of money into a pot on a draw when you know the other player will likely call all of your bets because they have two pair or something. The only way you will be able to bluff the other player out of the hand is if your upcard's scare him into folding (example: down cards: 2-7, upcard's: 6789). In this example the other player will likely fold unless he has two pair or higher.
As a split pot game Seven Card Stud Hi-Lo will high much higher plrs/4th percentages when compared to standard 7 Card Stud. The statistics below represent data collected at multiple poker rooms, numerous tables and took many weeks to accumulate. The Plrs/4th percentage basically means how often the players at the table call the initial bet(s) and stay in the hand at least until 4th street. High plrs/4th percentages mean that the players at the table are not being very picky in regards to hand selection. When comparing Stud and Stud HL this can be explained but the additional "playable" hands that come into play because it is a split pot game.
I've seen full 8 seat Seven Card Stud Hi-Lo tables in the $1/2 - $5-$10 range have plrs/4th percentages of 60-70%. This table would be a practical gold mine for a playing using the tight aggressive playing style. Another vital piece of information poker rooms provide is the average pot. Tables with high average pot sizes tend to also have high plrs/4th percentages. If you find a Stud High Low full ring table with a high average pot and a lot plrs/4th % this usually means that it is dominated by tight aggressive players and you should find easier prey elsewhere.
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