Seven-Card Stud Poker

This is a development of five-card stud and generally produces a livelier game. In seven-card stud, the players start with three cards each, two down and one up. Then there is a betting round. Thereafter a further three cards are dealt face up, with a betting round after each. The seventh and last card is dealt face down, and is followed by the final betting round. Players who stay to the last card will have three down cards and four up cards. Seven-card stud has five betting rounds and as a result the pots can be quite large. Rather than playing this game for pot-limit stakes, it is not a bad idea to change to half-pot limit.

In seven-card stud, players use the best five cards, from the seven they are dealt, to make their hand (remember, all poker hands contain only five cards). This means, for example, that a hand containing six hearts would only use the highest five to make the flush. A six-card flush does not beat a five-card flush. Similarly, there is no such hand as three pair. Thus J-J-10-10-4-4-2 would lose to K-K-6-6-Q-7-3.

I also suggest you read our article(s) on Five-Card Stud Poker for more information.

Five-Card Stud Poker – part2

Sample Five-Card Stud Poker Hand

In this hand, there are four players – A, B, C, D. Player A is the dealer. The stakes in this game are pot limit and each player has anted £1. Once again you are in the privileged position of being able to see all of the players’ hole cards, which would not be possible in a real situation. The players hold the following after two cards.

Player:                A      B      C       D

Down Card:          3      K      A       A

Up Card:             3      J       A       8

Player C has the highest up card so has to bet. He holds two aces which is the highest starting hand. He therefore makes a pot-sized bet of £4. Player D calls with an ace in the hole, player A calls with two 3s and player B calls with two high cards. There is now £20 in
the pot.

The second up card is dealt and the hands are now as follows:

Player:                A      B      C       D

Down Card:          3      K      A       A

Up Card1:            3      J       A       8

Up Card2:            9      J       10     8

Now player B has the highest up cards so decides to bet the pot. Player C has a choice to make. He does not think that player B has another jack in the hole so is confident that he has the best hand. However, he thinks that if he raises, everyone else will fold and he will only win a small pot, so he just calls. Player D also calls with his two 8s; he is hoping to catch another ace giving him two pair. (Notice that it is better for player D to catch an ace than an 8, because, even though three 8s is a better hand than two pair, the three 8s would be in full view of all the other players who would all fold.) Player A decides that his hand is well beaten at this stage and so he folds. It is good tactics in five-card stud to fold if you are’beaten in sight’, that is if the cards you can see the other players holding are better than yours. This leaves three players and there is now £80 in the pot. 


The third up card is dealt and the hands are now as follows: 

Player:                B      C       D

Down Card:          K      A       A

Up Card1:            J      A       8

Up Card2:            J      10     8

Up Card3:            4      4       K

Player B still has the highest up cards but is worried about what the other two players hold, so he checks. Player C is still confident that he has the best hand, but he decides not to bet the full amount of the pot – he only bets £50 – hoping that the other players will call. Player D knows he is beaten by player B and fairly sure he is beaten by player C so, as he did not get the card he wanted, he folds. Player B now thinks that it is a distinct possibility that player C has got two aces in which case he is beaten so he should fold. However, he knows player C very well and has seen him make a bluff in similar situations in the past. He is also fooled by the fact that player C did not bet the full amount of the pot which he takes as a sign that a bluff is possible. Also player B could still catch a king on the last card and maybe win a very big pot, so he calls.


There is now £180 in the pot and the final up card is dealt as follows: 

Player:                B      C

Down Card:          K      A

Up Card1:            J      A

Up Card2:            J      10

Up Card3:            4      4

Up Card4:            Q     5

Player B is still first to act and makes a snap decision. He quickly decides to bet the size of the pot, that is, £180. He considers that player C might think that he had a Q- J as his starting hand, meaning that he now has two pair. Player B makes his bet and instantly regrets his decision because player C looks as if he is about to call. Then player C hesitates. Of course, he does not know that he has the best hand, otherwise the correct decision is to raise. But he knows player B reasonably well (or thinks he does) and considers that he is not the type of player who bluffs very often. He therefore wrongly decides that player B probably holds two pair or conceivably three jacks. After a lot of pondering, player C folds the best hand. Player B, who has got away with a bluff, breathes a sigh of relief and wins the pot. Note that if player B’s last card had been a 2 instead of a queen then he would have been less likely to succeed with the bluff as player C would not then suspect two pair (Le. a 4 and a J or a 2 and a J are not likely starting hands for him to have). By the same token, however, player C is less likely to have tried the bluff if the final card had been a 2.
Five-card stud can be an interesting game but it can become a bit stale if everyone plays very conservatively and only enters the fray with strong starting hands such as an ace or a king as their hole card or a pair as their first two cards.





Five-Card Stud Poker – part1

In this game the dealer gives all the players one card face down and one face up. Each player looks at his own face-down card, usually called the’hole card’, but of course does not know the value of any other player’s hole card. Then there is a round of betting after which the players remaining in contention receive a third card face up. Those players folding their hand should do so by turning their face-up card or cards face down. They should be careful not to reveal their hole cards to any other player. This is followed by another betting round and the remaining players receive another card face up (often called an ‘up card’). Another round of betting follows. Finally, those surviving the first three betting rounds will receive a last up card. At this point the remaining players will all have one down card (Le. face down) and four up cards. There is a final round of betting after which each player remaining turns over his hole card and the best hand wins. Of course, if one player bets and all others fold, that player wins the pot without having to show his hole card.
Note that at the beginning of each betting round, the player with the highest up card or cards is the first to act. So, in the first round, if the highest card is, for instance, a king, the person holding the king would be first to bet. (If there is a tie for the high card, the first player on the dealer’s left holding the high card would be first to bet because this is the order of play.) On the first betting round only, the high card must make a bet for at least the minimum agreed stake, as a way of getting the game started. On the second and subsequent rounds of betting, the player showing the best hand would be first to speak. For example:

Player:         A       B      C       D

Up cards:     3        J      A       8

                  9        J      10      8

Player C acts first on the initial betting round and he must bet at least the minimum bet. On the second round, player B has a pair of jacks showing which is the highest hand and therefore he acts first. He may check or bet. The action then proceeds in the normal clockwise direction.
Notice that in five-card stud there are four betting rounds compared with only two in draw poker. This is worth bearing in mind when organising a game as the pots are likely to be much bigger for stud at the same betting limits.

Part 2

Pot-limit and No-limit Poker Games

Most cash games in casinos in the UK are played pot-limit. This means that players can bet up to the amount in the pot. As an example, say five players – A, B, C, D and E – each ante £1, making a total of £5 in the pot. Player A is first on the left of the dealer and opens the betting for £5. Player B calls this £5 and chooses to raise the amount in the pot, which is now £15 (£5 in antes, £5 from player A and the £5 from player B) for a total bet of £20. Player C calls this £20 and raises the amount of the pot again, which is now £50, to make the bet to the next player £70. Player D could then call £70 and raise the pot, which would now be £170 to make the bet a total of £240 to player E. Although this is an extreme example it shows how the amounts in pot limit can increase very quickly. So if you are organising a poker evening at home and don’t want anyone to go broke, it’s best to stay away from pot limit. This also applies to no-limit betting, the method used in Late Night Poker. In no-limit, a player can bet all of the money he has on the table in front of him, at any time, regardless of the pot size.

Going All-in

If at any stage of the hand a player does not have enough money to cover a bet, but nevertheless wants to call, he puts his remaining money in the pot and declares himself to be ‘all-in’. Any further bets go into what is called a ‘side pot’, which the all-in player cannot win. He continues, however, to be in contention for the first pot which is called the’main pot’. It is not uncommon for a side pot to be bigger than the main pot. Let’s have a simple three-player example. There is £100 in the pot and player A bets £20. Player B has only £5 left, so he calls for the £5. Player C also calls but for the original bet of £20. Thus, player B will be in contention for the original £100 in the pot plus his own £5 and £5 from each of the other two players. This makes a main pot of £115 with a side pot of £30. Only players A and C are in contention for the side pot, but all three players are in contention for the main pot. 

A Sample Draw Poker Hand

Let’s look at a sample draw poker hand from start to finish. In this example, you will be in the privileged position of knowing what all of the players have in their hands. Of course, in a real game you will know for sure only what cards you hold and will have to speculate about the holdings of other players. However, as already stated, there are clues which will give you an indication of the strength of an opponent’s hand. Clues already mentioned are the pattern of betting and the number of cards a player exchanges, Other clues can be gleaned from a player’s body language (see the chapter on Reading Your Opponent) or from what you know about the player, i.e. what strength of hands he usually plays etc. So let’s get on with the sample hand. In this game there are four players (A, B, C, D). Their hands before the draw are:


A    K(hearts), 7(diamonds), 5(diamonds), 4(clubs), 3(spades) – This is a worthless hand of very low value

B    2(diamonds), 2(clubs), 2(hearts), K(hearts), 5(spades) – This hand has three 2’s, which is very good starting position.

C    Q(spades), J(spades), 9(spades), 7(hearts), 4(spades) – This hand is not worth anythig yet but if he could exchange the 7(hearts) for another spadethen he’d have a flush

D    A(spades), A(clubs), 8(spades), 8(clubs), 4(clubs) – This hand has 2 pairs, aces up, which is a very strong starting position, although it is weakerthen player B at the moment. This hand aces and eights is called "Dead man’s hand".


Player A is dealer, so player B is first to act and opens for £10. Player C has the drawing hand, so calls the bet. Player D has a very strong starting hand and so he raises £10, It is unfortunate for player D that he does not know what player B is holding, otherwise he would not have raised (indeed he might not even have called), Player A, with his very poor hand, folds. Player B, with a very strong starting hand, re-raises. Player C (with his drawing hand) now has a decision to make: should he call the bet hoping to draw the flush and probably win the pot or should he cut his losses and fold? He knows there is a risk that he will be caught between two players who are re-raising each other so he could lose a lot of money which makes him cautious. On the other hand, he is a player who is at the game to gamble and so he decides to take the risk and call the bet (which is now £20 to him, the £10 raise and the £10 re¬raise). He also knows that the one bet and three raises rule applies in this game, so the maximum he would have to put in is £40. Next it is player D who has a decision to make. If he knew for sure that player B had three twos, his correct course would be to fold, but he is not sure. He calculates that player B has a strong hand but it might only be two smaller pairs than he holds. He could re-raise again in this position, but decides that a call is the wisest course.
This leaves three players after the first round of betting, B, C and D. They now have to decide how many cards they should draw. Player B could keep his three twos and draw two cards or keep his three twos and one of the other cards as well and draw only one card, This latter course is what he decides upon, reasoning that by drawing only one card he will make his opponents think that he has only got two pair thus deceiving them about the true strength of his hand. Player C has little choice; he throws the 7(hearts) away hoping to get a spade. Player D has a choice. He could do the obvious thing by keeping his two pair and taking one card – he would be hoping to draw another ace or an eight, giving him a full house. Alternatively, he could ‘stand pat’, that is take no cards, again in the hope of disguising the value of his hand. He would be hoping that the other players would think he had a very strong hand indeed and would fold as a result of him making a bet. However, he has seen that the other two players have each drawn one card, so he in turn draws one card because he does not want the other two players to think he has a very strong hand. He wants one or other to call his bet, if he decides to make one.
The cards drawn by each player are as follows:

Player/Cards kept       Cards drawn

B  2D, 2C, 2H, KH        5D                   – Player B swapped one 5 for another 5, it’s still a strong hand but he now thinks it’s beatable.

C  QS, JS, 9S, 4S         9D                   – Player C has thrown away a 7H but got back a 9D. Hiss hand os now a pair of 9’s, not very strong at all.

D  AS, AC, 8S, 8C         6H                   – Player D has thrown away the 4C but got back a 6H, again it’s no improvement but it’s still a fairly strong hand.


In the final betting round, player B is cautious and checks. Player C could bet here trying to make the other players think that he has a strong hand; possibly they might think he has drawn a flush or a straight. If he did bet here the bet would be described as a’bluff’, that is, he would be betting with a weak hand hoping that the other players would fold allowing him to win the pot. However, player C considers that he would not get away with the bluff and also checks. Player D is encouraged by the fact that the other twoplayers have checked. He counts this as a sign of weakness on their part and thinks it is possible that he has the best hand. However, he knows that both of his opponents are capable of checking a good hand in the hope of ‘trapping’ him and getting him to bet with an inferior holding. Players who use the trapping technique a lot are, not surprisingly, called’trappers’. So player D decides to be cautious and check. The dealer tells all of the players to turn over their cards and player B wins with the best hand of three twos.



How To Play Poker

"The urge to gamble is so universal and its practice so pleasurable that I assume it must be evil"
Heywood Broun


Poker is really a generic term for a family of games. The most common vanahons are:

·     Draw Poker

·     Five-card Stud

·     Seven-card Stud

·     Texas Hold ‘Em

·     Omaha

I will start with how to play draw poker and five-card stud, with particular focus on draw poker, as all other types are derived from these two. If you can master the basics of these two games you can easily adapt to all other forms of poker.
The Basics

The Basics

Poker is played with between two and twelve people seated at either a circular or a kidney shaped table. A game of poker can last for several hours and is divided into hands. Each hand of poker takes about 3-5 minutes to play, depending on the number of  players at the table and how fast they play. Depending on the strength of his/her hand, players make bets by putting money (which is exchanged for chips if you’re playing in a casino) into the ‘pot’. The objective for each poker player, during a hand, is to win all the money in the pot of each hand. That is, to obtain the highest-ranking hand, or bet out all of the other opponents and be the sole remaining player left in contention. Pots are not all the same size so at the end of the playing session the person who has won the most money is not necessarily the person who has won most pots. The aim of the game is to win,as much money during the playing session as possible.

If you are planning to have a social game it is worth setting a limit on the stakes that are to be played for. It is also a good idea to set a finishing time in advance, as the losers, even when playing for very small stakes, usually want to continue playing until they get their money back.


The Ranking of Hands

Although there are many variations of the game of poker, the ranking of hands always remains the same. A poker hand is always made up of exactly five cards. The values of each card from the highest to the lowest are ace, king, queen, jack, 10, 9, 8, 7,6,5,4, 3, 2, ace (an ace can be high or low depending on the circumstance). In the remainder of this book, where appropriate, an ace will be shown as an’A’, a king as’K’, a queen as’Q’ and a jack as’J’.

Poker hands are ranked in the order of probability of being dealt in five-card combinations from the standard 52-card. deck. There are 2,598,960 combinations of five-card hands possible in the standard deck. The number of possible hands in each of the categories is given opposite. You will see that the high card is the commonest hand and easiest to get dealt, hence it is worth the least. By contrast, there are only four combinations of cards which will give a royal flush, making it the rarest hand and hence the most valuable.

Royal Flush – 4

The five highest cards of the same suit. Examples are

A(clubs), K(clubs), Q(clubs), J(clubs), 10(clubs) or A(hearts), K(hearts), Q(hearts), J(hearts), 10(hearts)


Straight Flush – 36

Any five cards of the same suit which are also in sequential order or rank. Examples are

7(diamonds), 8(diamonds), 9(diamonds), 10(diamonds), J(diamonds) or 3(spades), 4(spades), 5(spades), 6(spades), 7(spades)


Four of a kind – 624

Four cards of the same rank or value. Example 10(hearts), 10(diamonds), 10(spades), 10(clubs), 7 (clubs).  (Notes that most standard poker hands have 5 cards in a hand).


Full House – 3744

Three cards of the same rank or value plus a pair of different rank. Example 3(diamonds), 3(spades), 3(hearts), 9(spades), 9(clubs).


Flush – 5108

Five non-sequential cards of the same suit. Example A(clubs), K(clubs), 7(clubs), 5(clubs), 2(clubs)


Straight – 10,200

Five cards of mixed suits in sequence of rank. An example is 7(diamonds), 8(hearts), 9(diamonds), 10(diamonds), J(spades). Although the ace is normally a high card it can also play as a low card to form a five-high straight (or indeed a straight flush). Thus A(clubs), 2(diamonds), 3(hearts), 4(clubs), 5(spades) is the lowest possible straight.


Three of a kind – 54,912

Three cards of the same rank, also called a set or trips (short for triplets). Example 6(clubs), 6(hearts), 6(diamonds), 10(hearts), 9(spades).


Two Pair – 123,552

Any two cards of the same rank, plus any other two cards of the same rank, plus one odd card. Examples are A(hearts), A(clubs), 4(diamonds), 4(hearts), 5(clubs) called’ aces up’ as aces are the higher pair, or 7(clubs), 7(spades), 3(hearts), 3(diamonds), Q(hearts) called’sevens up’ as sevens are the highest pair.


One Pair – 1,098,240

Any two cards of the same rank, plus three odd cards. Example 8(hearts), 8(spades), K(hearts), J(clubs), 3(hearts)


High Card – 1,302,540

If no player has a pair or better then the highest card held wins. Examples are A(clubs), K(hearts), 10(spades), 8(clubs), 5(hearts) which is an Ace high, or 9(clubs), 8(clubs), 5(hearts), 4(diamonds), 2(spades, which is a lowly nine high.


There are some aspects of hand rankings which can be confusing for beginners. For instance, flushes are ordered in terms of their highest card, then the next highest and so on down to the fifth card, so A(clubs), K(clubs), 7(clubs), 5(clubs), 3(clubs) is a bigger flush than A(spades), K(spades), 6(spades), 5(spades), 2(spades), although both are called’ ace-high flushes’. Also, if there were two flushes exactly the same size, e.g. Q(spades), 7(spades), 5(spades), 4(spades), 2(spades) and Q(clubs), 7(clubs), 5(clubs), 4(clubs), 2(clubs), the two hands would draw and the pot would be split between both players as in poker there is no difference in the value of suits. Similarly, with two-pair hands, if two players have the same highest pair, the lower pair determines the winner, so A-A-4-4-J would beat A-A-2-2-Q and both would beat Q-Q-J-J-K. In the unlikely event of two players having the same two pair, the player with the higher fifth card would win. Thus, J-J-5-5-Q would beat J-J-5-5-9.

Gambling – Chasing Rainbows

Chasing rainbows
More than half the U.S.population gambles fairly regularly. For most players, gambling is a fun diversion from the normal routine. However, you can easily cross the dangerously thin line from pleasurable pastime to deadly addiction. One of the best ways to avoid the pitfall of addiction is through education. Your chances of winning increase dramatically ifyou understand the odds and psychology of the games you play. That’s where this article comes into play.
You can easily get caught up in the chase. Everyone enjoys winning more than losing, and no one likes to come home defeated. But you need to remember that no one wins every trip or every day or every session. Gambling is all about educating yourself about the long odds you are facing and selecting the best bets in the casino. So keep this advice in mind: Losing a small amount and walking away is far better than dumping a bundle trying desperately to get even.

The Martingale Betting System

By far, the best known and most popular progressive gambling system is the Martingale system, which has been around for centuries. On the surface, this system seems so foolproof that thousands of hopeful gamblers think they have reinvented it, only to find out later that it’s not as infallible as they thought.
The appeal of the Martingale lies in its simplicity. You start off by betting one unit – say, $5. Whenever you win, you continue with the same $5 bet, but
whenever you lose, you double the next bet. Ifyou lose the next hand, you double again ($5, $10, $20, $40, $80, $160, $320, $640, and so on).
To many gamblers, the Martingale seems perfect. However, it has a couple of fatal flaws. The first problem is that by doubling up after every loss, eventually
you bump up against the maximum allowable bets in many casinos. A $5 starting unit will exceed $500 if you lose seven straight hands (which happens far more often than you may think).
But the real problem of the system is that it doesn’t work. If you’re playing a negative expectation game, such as roulette, you can expect to lose an amount that is close to the preset house advantage of 5.26 percent. The Martingale does give you a lot more winning sessions, but they’re mostly small. Your losing trips, however, are bone rattling.

Breaking the laws of probability

Many players erroneously believe certain events are due. For example, if the roulette ball lands on a red number five times in a row, some gamblers feel black is due to hit.
It’s true that, over time, 50-50propositions Oike flipping a coin) even out and finish close to the average. But the most likely outcome for the short-term is
anything but average. It’s not unusual to have seven heads and three tails in ten flips of a coin. Even if you take time off work and meticulously keep track
of a million flips, it’s highly unlikely the results will be exactly 500,000 for each. The occurrence of heads and tails will be close to 50 percent, but there
still may be thousands more heads than tails.
How does this example relate to gambling? Don’t get sucked into illusory concepts such as hot dice, cold cards, or streaky machines. This fact is just the principle of random walk at work; short-term fluctuation is normal in any game.
But can you predict that fluctuation or make money off it? Absolutely not!

Forecasting the trends
Some gamblers mistakenly believe that trends develop in some games – and that smart players can spot these trends and use them to predict the future.

To encourage this strategy, casinos even display previous numbers hit on the roulette wheel and give players paper and pencils to track results at the baccarat table. Unless you’re planning a future career as the scorekeeper for the Lakers, such activities are a waste of time. The previous results are only meaningful if
there were a bias in the machine or wheel. But modern casinos are extremely vigilant about regulating all their games, and it’s very rare for non random events to creep into games of chance.

Succumbing to sefective memory
All gambling superstitions and misconceptions share one common denominator – they all lose in the long run. You don’t believe me? Perhaps you have a friend who always wins at slots or crushes the craps tables every trip. The truth is that people do win sometimes – otherwise no one would ever return to the casinos. But I would speculate that an average gambler finishes ahead about one out of every three trips. That’s simply short-term fluctuation at work.

The problem for most people is that they don’t keep records, and it is human nature to recall big wins and minimize losses. Consequently, many gamblers think that they’re winners when actually they’re net losers.

Getting an edge on the house edge

It’s a fact: In most casino games, the house has the edge. But you can get an edge over the casino in two ways:
– Using match play coupons to double your fun.
You can often find match play coupons in the free fun books distributed by many casinos. Rip these coupons out and tuck them underneath your bet. In most cases, they essentially double your wager without having to risk any more money.
– Taking advantage of promotions.
Promotions can be the best way to secure a positive expectation. Here are a couple of examples: I have played at several casinos where they changed the rules for a short period of time and paid out 2 to 1 on all blackjacks. This change tipped the odds enough so that even basic-strategy players had nearly a 2 percent edge over the house.

Another great promotion was when the Pioneer Casino in Laughlin, Nevada, offered Double Jackpot Time on some slot machines. Twice an hour, for a short period of time (approximately 30 seconds), they generously doubled the payout on certain jackpots. Most people shrugged off this opportunity as just another marketing gimmick, but it was verylucrative. A friend of mine made six figures a year there playing only a few minutes every hour.

Finding out about these great deals isn’t easy. However, one helpful resource for casino promotions and coupons is the Las Vegas Advisor. Another tactic is signing up for casino mailing lists to keep abreast of upcoming special events.