I’ve been playing a lot of Stud-8 lately. I cut my poker teeth on 7 card stud, so I was already fairly familiar with the game as a poker standard. It is still probably one of the best live games played, because player reading is so important and relatively easy to do if you are at all good at it. People on-line often post about the high variance in the game, but I always figured it was supplanted by Hold’Em as the American poker game because the better player wins way too often in 7 Stud. The only really frustrating thing about Stud is that you don’t get as many raising wars as you do in Hold’em and you often have to make terrible river calls because the pot is so fricken huge by that point.
What I love about Stud-8 is that you get to freeroll very, very often. The most common case is in a heads-up pot where the hands are:
Me: (Ac 2d) 6h 5c 4s
Baddie: (?? ??) Kh Tc 6s
Because the baddie has bet on every street, I’m pretty sure he has a pair (most likely Kings). Most importantly, I know what he doesn’t have. He doesn’t have a low or even a draw to a low. He doesn’t have a flush or a realistic flush draw. If we give him credit for KQ in the hole, he is a 2:1 dog to me at this point. I am a lock for half for the pot and am freerolling on my gutshot draw (plus the Ace, plus some runner-runner crap) for a high. Even if he held rolled-up Kings, I’m still a clear favorite with four outs to the scoop and a lock on half.
I’ve seen a number of situations where I have a pat low in a four way hand on 6th street and everyone else appears to be playing for high or drawing to worse low than I already have. There aren’t that many games being played out there, but I’m enjoying the ones I’ve found.