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Starting Hands

There are four main categories of starting hands in seven-card stud : Three of a kind, also referred to as rolled-up trips; big pairs; small and medium pairs; and the drawing hands. There are also some other hands that you occasionally should play, but a discussion of them is beyond the scope of this book. However, the starting quiz that follows this section provides a few strategy tips on how to play some of these additional hands.

Category No.1:Three of a kind . This is the best starting hand in seven-card stud, but you won’t get it very often-in fact, on the average of only once in every 425 times you are dealt in.
Because rolled-up trips are so strong, it usually doesn’t matter how you play them. Still, you don’t want to be dealt three queens and win only the antes. So if you are in an early position and think raise will drive out the other players, you should just call. On the other games, if several players are already in the pot before the action gets to you, your raise is unlikely to make them fold. But remember, although three of a kind is a powerful hand, it is not invincible and occasionally does get beat.

Category No.2: Big pairs. The big pairs are almost always playable and should be played aggressively. The exception is if you are likely to be up against someone who holds a larger pair. In this case, you should consider throwing your hand away, unless your kicker-the side card to your pair-is higher than your opponent’s probable pair.

               When you play a big pair, you generally go all the way to the river. However, if your opponent pairs his third-street card (known as the door card) or makes something else threatening-such as a four flush on board-you should fold.

Category No.3: Small and medium pairs. Determining whether to play a small or medium pair can be fairly complicated. The two most important considerations are the availability of the cards you need that is, whether your hand is live and the size of your kicker. As already noted, a high card can add value to your hand. Nevertheless, playing a pair of fours when you can see a four across the table is usually a mistake-even if your kicker is an ace.

Category No.4: The drawing hands. Hands such as three flushes and three straights are often playable. Again, the cards games you need must be available, and having a high card is helpful in determining whether to play heads up. Unlike the pairs, drawing hands have no present value; you play them because they have the potential to become very strong.