Poker Tournaments

Poker TournamentsPoker is one of the most popular table games in casinos around the world, and this popularity has led to players that are so practiced, skilled, and familiar with strategy that they’re practically professionals.

With some of the world’s biggest poker tournaments, they get a shot at being professional—with a wad of cash to help prove just how good they are. Poker tournaments are fairly common, ranging from casino-run tournaments for some of their high rollers to world-class tournaments that are televised and have prizes up in the hundreds of thousands of dollars.

If you’re interested in playing in poker tournaments, it’s suggested that you practice locally at first. Establish yourself within your local gaming community. See if there are poker groups who play regularly instead of going to a casino.

Once you’re comfortable with your skills, you can expand to a larger playing group or try your luck at a casino.

If you do start playing at casinos, expect to get to know the dealers and/or the managers, because the more the managers and dealers recognize you as a player willing to bet money on the tables, the more likely you’ll be to get invited to tournaments they may be holding. These tournaments can have prizes ranging from cash to free rooms in the casino hotel, and are usually treated as wine ‘n’ dine affairs.

The upper crust of poker players, however, are the ones who are invited to the top tournaments in the world. In order to get where they are, these players have developed themselves as not only local threats, but as players who are capable of holding their own against internationally renowned competition.

One of the most well known poker tournaments is the World Series of Poker. It is the longest ongoing poker tournament in the world. The first game, held in 1970, was held at the Horseshoe Casino in Las Vegas.

While some tournaments are one event and one game, the World Series of Poker encompasses more than 60 events, and its prize pool usually extends into the multi-millions. The World Series of Poker works by having winners win “bracelets,” and the person to win the most—to win the most games—is the one who wins the final pool.

The World Poker Tour is another large tournament. These are the events most people end up seeing televised. While this tournament began in the 2000s, much later than the World Series of Poker, it has rapidly gained popularity, drawing players from around the world. Its prize isn’t as large as the World Series of Poker’s, but it also usually extends into the millions.

Poker tournaments usually involve set “buy-in” prices, where players must put down a specific amount of money in order to even be able to play. This money can go partially toward the player i the form of a starting amount of chips, and partially toward the pool for the winner, but, like all gambling, if you walk away outside of the top few spots, you can end up with nothing.

Smaller-scale tournaments can have buy-ins as low as $20, but larger tournaments can have buy-ins in the hundreds of thousands. Players can also have sponsorships, and often portions of the winnings or all of the winnings will go toward charities.

Other notable poker tournaments:

  • The Super Bowl of Poker
  • The Asia Pacific Poker Tour Macau
  • The Crown Australian Poker Championship
  • The National Heads-Up Poker Championship

Playing Cards at Casinos

Walking out of casinos with a handful of chips isn’t unusual—in fact, casino chips are the number one most popular souvenir from casinos. They’re a risky one, too; most casinos circulate and change out their chips, so wait too long to come back and your chips may lose their value. But a somewhat less popular souvenir can also be found at the tables: casino playing cards.

We’re not saying dealers will hand you the cards they’re dealing out—don’t ask for them, that’s a round way to get yourself shown the door—but most casinos offer decks of collectible cards in their gift shops. These cards may be stock, simple off-the-rack cards the casino ordered for the express purpose of selling, or they may be branded with the casino’s name and logo.

The value of these cards varies. A few Vegas souvenir shops offer casino decks for a dollar or at discount prices for tourists, but MGM sells decks of their branded cards on Amazon for around $20 a pop. The Las Vegas Gift Shop offers cards from almost every casino in the city, and most have branded boxes—and they’re around $2 a deck.

So that covers the tourism and souvenir aspect of playing cards . . . but is the rumor that casinos never reuse a deck of cards true? According to StackExchange’s Board and Card Games discussion boards, absolutely.

Casinos have rigorous systems in place to prevent cheating. Video cameras, sharp-eyed dealers, and managers who walk the floor all play their part in keeping you from walking out with a little too much money.

There are plenty of ways to (try to) cheat at a casino, but the easiest, obviously, is to mark a card and sit at the table for a few more rounds, aware of which denomination of card is marked, or which specific card is marked. In order to prevent this, casino dealers discard each deck after each round of play, so no marked or bent or folded cards will slip by and allow someone to cheat.

Not only are cards discarded from play, they’re also stricken from being used ever again—so you can imagine how many decks of cards a casino goes through a day! These decks are the ones you’ll see on sale at souvenir shops or “used” online. They’ve been used by the casino and will be sold at a small profit in order to recoup the (undoubtedly bulk) price the casino paid for them.

In order to strike cards from being played again—or being bought as souvenirs and then brought in to “add” to the number of cards actually in play—casinos will use machines to punch holes through them, negating them from being allowed on a table.

Casinos’ particular brands of preferred cards vary. There’s no “standard” casino card deck brand. However, does list the most recommended playing cards to buy, so if you’re looking for the casino feel in your own home without having to worry about striking them and with the added plus of durability, here’s the tops: KEM plastic cards, which are durable and washable, Copaq plastic cards, which are PVC-coated, and official World Poker Tour playing cards.

Casino Cash Vault Introduction to Blackjack Strategy

Blackjack is one of the most popular games in any casino. It is easy to learn and to play. The game is one of the more social in the casino as well, as all of the players are competing against the dealer and often win (or lose) as a group.

Blackjack is usually played with a shoe containing 4 to 6 regular 52 card decks.  You can sometimes find single and double deck blackjack games, but they are usually at higher stakes.

The biggest mistake most beginning players make understanding the object of the game. While Blackjack is also referred to as “21”, the object of the game is to beat the dealer, not to get 21. A 21 is simply the best possible hand you can get.

How the Game is played.

Each player places a wager in the box in front of their seat.  The dealer deals the cards face up from left to right one at a time until each player and the dealer has two cards. Only one of the dealer’s cards is face up.

If any player has a blackjack, two cards that total 21, the dealer immediately pays that player. Blackjack traditionally paid 3-to-2, but in many Las Vegas casinos the trend is to now pay 6-to-5.

If the Dealer has a Face card showing, she will check to see if she has a blackjack. If so, she will turn her cards over, take the losing wagers and move on to the next hand.

If the Dealer is showing an Ace, she will over Insurance. If a player wishes to take Insurance they play a wager of one-half their original wager in the insurance box located directly above their bet. If the dealer has blackjack the insurance bet will pay 2-to-1, resulting in the player breaking even. If the dealer does not have blackjack, the player loses the insurance bet and play continues as normal. The insurance bet is considered a bad bet and should seldom be made.

After the Dealer has paid any blackjacks and checked for blackjack, action returns to the player on the Dealer’s left (called “first base”) and moves left to right.

Each player has one of five options:

  • Hit – To take another card. A player can hit until they reach a total they are comfortable with or until their hand total exceeds 21.
  • Stand – To play the two cards dealt and not take another card.
  • Double – To make an additional wager equal to the current one in order to receive only one additional card.  All casinos allow players to double on a total of 10 or 11; some casinos will allow you to double on any two cards.
  • Split – If the two cards are the same the player may choose to play two hands by splitting. The player places a bet equal to the original bet and the Dealer will move on card in front of the new wager. The hands play as normal from that point on.
  • Surrender – When a player feels he is destined to lose, he can surrender and forfeit one-half of his bet.

When it is the Dealer’s turn to act her actions are dictated by the house rules. The Dealer must hit any hand totally 16 or less and stand on all hands totally 17 or more. The only variable is when the dealer has a “soft 17” a hand consisting of an Ace and a 6. Some casinos require the dealer to hit and others require them to stand. The rules for the casino will always be printed on the layout directly in front of the dealer.

If you play perfect strategy, the house edge is blackjack is only 1.5%. To help you play perfect strategy we are including a strategy card at the end of this Casino Cash Vault installment.

Basic Blackjack Strategy

  • If the dealers up card is 6 or less
    • Hit on any hand less than 10
    • Double on any 10 or 11
    • Stand on Any hand 12 or higher
    • If the dealers up card is 7 or higher
      • Surrender with a 16 against a face card.
      • Hit on any hand 16 or lower
      • Stand on any hand 17 or higher
      • Double on any 11
      • If your hand totals 10 or 11
        • Double with a 10 against any dealer card. Some players don’t double if the dealer is showing an Ace or 10.
        • Double with any 11 against any dealer card.
        • Splitting – Refer to the rules for splitting on our chart below. Note that you always split Eights and Aces.

Blackjack is one of the easiest games in the casino and is fun as well.  With just a few minutes of study you can have the basic rules down, and you can even take your strategy card to the table with you.

Good Luck at the tables.bj_4d_s17

Basic Craps Part 5

In our final installment of Casino Cash Vault’s Casino School series on craps, we’ll look at some basic betting strategies and take a trip on the Dark Side.

As we’ve noted in various Casino School articles the craps table is the loudest and most action packed table at the casino.  However if you scan the table closely there is often one player that is very quiet and seldom celebrates wins with the rest of the table and, in fact, seldom shows any enthusiasm at all.  This player is usually the “Don’t” player; one that most players say has gone to the “Dark Side”.


Right above the Pass line you will see a small area labeled Don’t Pass.  The Don’t Pass line works the exact opposite of the Pass Line. The Don’t Pass player loses if the shooter throws a 7 or 11 on the come out roll, and wins with a roll of a 2 or 3. A roll of 12 is a push.

After a point is established the Don’t Pass player wins if the shooter rolls a 7 before making his point.

The Don’t Pass can also make an odds bet, with the only difference being that the Don’t player is laying the odds.  For the 4 and 10, he must bet 4 units to win 2, 5 and 9 a 3 unit bet wins 2, and for 6 and 8 a 6 unit bet wins 5.

Unlike a Pass line bet the Don’t Pass bet is not a contract bet and can be taken down at any time. This is because the Don’t player is playing with the house and the casino has no real edge other than the push on a come out roll of 12.

Just above the Don’t Pass line is a small box labeled Don’t Come. This is the exact opposite of the Come Bet, with the 12 once again being a push.


Betting Strategies

If you want to be a long term winner, the best bet on the table is the Don’t Pass.  You’re playing with the house and the odds are definitely in your favor.  Frankly being a Don’t Player, while profitable, is not as exciting or as fun as playing the Pass Line.

Strategy 1

Make a pass line bet and take 2 times odds.

Make a Come bet and take 2 times odds on the point.

Make one more additional Come bet and once again take 2 times odds.

Strategy 2

Make a pass line bet and take 2 times odds.

Make a place bet of 2 units on the 6 and 8. Meaning you would be betting $12 at a normal table. When the number hits take down one unit.  When the number hits for the third time, start to press your bet by one unit until the shooter 7 outs.

Bet $12 on 6 or 8.

Roll of 6 = $14 pay out. Profit $14.00

Reduce bet to $6

Roll of 6 = $7 payout Profit $21

Roll of 6 = $7 payout profit $28

Increase Bet to $12

Roll of 6 = $14 payout or profit of $42.

Roll of 7 = loss of $12 profit $16.

Strategy 3

Some players only make place bets on the 6 and 8 using the betting pattern in strategy 2.  These players will often pull their bet down after the third win.

These are by no means the only betting strategies for craps. These are fairly conservative ones.

Before placing any bet take a few minutes to watch the table. You want a “hot” table where a lot of players are making points. If the only table available is a cold table, don’t hesitate to play the Don’ts.dontpass

Basic Craps Part 4

In our fourth Casino Cash Vault’s Casino School lesson on Craps, we look at the proposition bets. These are the bets located in the section of the layout closest to the stickman.  The proposition bets attract a lot of action due to the high payouts. The house edge is very high on the proposition bets and they are not considered good bets.

There are     single roll bets.

Any Seven – A bet that a seven will be rolled on the next roll. Pays 4 to 1.

Any Craps – A bet that the next number rolled will be two, three or 12. Pays 7 to 1.

Craps 2 – A bet that the next number rolled will be a two or “snake eyes” Pays 30 to 1.

Craps 3 – A bet that the next number rolled will bet a three. Pays 15 to 1.

Craps 12 – A bet that the next number rolled will be 12 or “midnight” or “boxcars”. Pays 30 to 1.

Eleven – A bet that the next number rolled will be 11. Eleven is called “yo” at the craps table to avoid confusion with the number 7. Pays 15 to 1.

Horn Bet – A bet that one of four numbers; 2, 3, 12 or 11 will be rolled next. Players often make a $5 bet on the horn. Three of the numbers will have a $1 bet and one number will have a $2 wager. The number with the $2 wager is called “Horn High”.  Players indicate which number is high when they place their bet by telling the dealer “Horn High Yo”, “Horn High Midnight” “Horn High Snake Eyes” or “Horn High 3”.  The payouts vary based on which number is rolled.

C & E – This stands for Craps (2, 3, and 12) and Eleven. These bets have the same payouts as the corresponding bets on the inside. Many players make this bet on the come out roll and therefore the bets are placed in the small circles to indicate they are working on the come out.

The Hard Ways

There are four hard way bets listed above the proposition bets; the 4, 6, 8 and 10. A hard way bet wins when the number is hit hard, meaning 2-2, 3-3, 4-4 or 5-5. The bet loses if a 7 is rolled or if the number is thrown any other way.  The four and ten pay 7 to 1; the six and eight pay 9 to 1. (Some layouts will list the payouts as 8 for 1 or 10 for 1. This is the same payout just a different way of expressing it.)

The following table shows the payouts and house edge for the Hard way and Proposition Bets.

Bet Payout House Edge
Any Seven 4 to 1 16.7%
Any Craps 7 to 1 11.1%
Craps 2 30 to 1 13.9%
Craps 3 15 to 1 11.1%
Craps 12 30 to 1 13.9%
Eleven (Yo) 15 to 1 11.1%
Hard 4 7 to 1 11.1%
Hard 6 9 to 1 9.1%
Hard 8 9 to 1 9.1%
Hard 10 7 to 1 11.1%


In our next installment of Casino Cash Vault’s Casino School we will look at paying “the dark side.”

Basic Craps Part 3


In this installment of Casino Cash Vault’s Casino School we continue to look at one of the most exciting games in the casino; craps.


In this installment, we will look at place bets.


At the top of the table, you see a row of boxes with the numbers 4, 5, 6, 8, 9, 10.




This area has several purposes.


The puck is placed there to indicate the point.


Come bets are moved there once a come point is established.


Place/buy bets are placed there.


Place bets are where a great deal of the action in craps occurs.  If the player is hot and making lots of points, you can make a lot of profit on place bets.


To make a place bet, just toss your chip on the table and tell your dealer what number you wish to bet.  He’ll place your bet on the number for you.


You can make a place bet at any time. Unlike a pass line bet, a place bet is not a contract bet and you can take it down at any time.  Place bets stay active until the shooter rolls a 7.


Place bets also pay odds based on the number.


4 & 10 pays 9 to 5


5 & 9 pays 7 to 5


6 & 8 pays 7 to 6


As you recall from our lesson on free odds on the Pass Line these are not true odds. The house takes a cut.


You can buy the number rather than place it to receive true odds on your bet. The casino charges a 5% commission on a buy bet. Some casinos charge the commission when you make your bet, which gives them a 4.8% edge. Others charge the commission only on winning bets, lowering the house edge to 1.6%. Ask your dealer which method they use.


The best numbers to buy are the 4 and 10, if your bet is $20.00 or more. This will get you full odd of 2 to 1. (With a $20 place bet hitting the 4 or 10 pays $36. Buying the number for the same $20 pays a net of $39 ($40 – $1 commission)).


You can also bet against a number being rolled. This is called a Lay Bet. You win if a 7 comes up before your number.  When you lay a bet you would be wager $10 to win $5 on 4 and 10, $15 to win $10 on 5 and 9, and $24 to win $20. The house also charges a commission on lay bets.


The two numbers that come up most frequently, other than a 7, are the 6 and 8. Most players will make place bets on every roll.


In the next Casino Cash Vault Casino School lesson on Craps, we’ll look at the bets with the most enticing odds, the Horn, C&E, and the Hard Ways.


Basic Craps Part 2

In this installment of Casino Cash Vault’s Casino School we continue to look at one of the most exciting games in the casino; craps.

Craps has tons of action and more betting opportunities than any other game.

In this installment, we will look at betting areas on the table that take up a lot of space and are very prominent on the layout.

Come Bet

A large area in the middle of the table is labeled “Come”.

A Come bet can be placed after a point has been established.

The Come bet works exactly like a Pass Line bet. A roll of a 7 or 11 wins. A roll of 2, 3 or 12 loses. Any other number becomes the point. The bet moved to the middle of the point. If that point is rolled before a 7 the wager is a winner.

Just like a Pass Line bet, you are allowed to take true odds on a Come bet and the odds payout is the same as the Pass Line odds bets.


The Field Bet

Right in the middle of the table is a large are called the Field.

The field bet is a one roll bet on any of the numbers listed in the box, namely 2, 3, 4, 9, 10, 11 and 12.

The field bet looks enticing, but the most commonly rolled numbers; 6, 8 and 7 as well as the 5 are not included.

All of the bets pay even money with two exceptions. The 2 pays 2-to-1 and the 12 pays 3-to-1 in most casinos. The house edge for field bets is 2.78%. (In casino’s that pay 2-to-1 on both the 2 and the twelve the house edges jumps to over 5%. So when you have a choice play at casinos that have the better payout.)

Opinions on the Field bet are mixed. Some players (and dealers) love the Field bet and others dislike it.  Other bets have better payouts and better odds.

New players will often play the Field on the come out roll. This means when a 7 is rolled they break even. In craps you don’t want to take away any opportunity.  If you play the Field, do so after the point has been set.

Big 6/8

The Big 6/8 is found on the corner of most table layouts.

This bet is called a “tourist”, or in less kind circles a “sucker”, bet.

A bet placed on the Big 6 or Big 8 pays even money. Since the bet works exactly like a place bet on either of the two numbers, with the exception that it pays even money. This is a really terrible bet and should never be made.

big 6

Many casinos are replacing this bet with a Low Dice/High Dice bet.


This bet is a one roll bet. Players can choose Low or High. Low is 2, 3, 4, 5, and 6 and High is 8,9,10, 11, and 12. The bet is paid even money with the exception of a 5-to-1 payout for the 2 and 12.

This is also considered a tourist bet.

In our next installment we will explore the place bets.

How to Play Craps: Part 1

If you are ever trying to find the craps table in any casino, just stop for a second and listen for the loudest group of people. Follow the sound and odds are you are at the craps table.

Craps is the most action packed game in the casino and when a shooter is hot, a very lively game.

Craps is intimidating to some due to the fast action and the number of bets allowed.

Casino Cash Vault’s Casino School series on craps will walk you through every bet on the table and offer you some betting advice.

Game Structure

Craps has its own language and most of the common craps terms can be found in the Casino Cash Vault’s Casino School article Craps 101: The Terminology.

You have four casino employees at the table.

Two dealers are at each end of the table. One dealer in the middle is the stickman (easily recognized because he holds a stick). The other casino employee is also in the middle of the table and usually is dressed in a suit; he is the boxman or the box. He is a casino supervisor and watches the table.

The dealers on the end are responsible for paying winning bets and keeping track of the bets from the players on their end of the table.

The stickman calls the action, tells the players what to pay, and keeps track of the hardway, C&E, and Horn bets.

Players take turns shooting the dice and the action moves clockwise around the table. A player must have a bet on the pass line to shoot. A player may also decline to shoot the dice.


Pass Line

The Pass Line bet is the first wager you need to understand.

You make your pass line bet before a point has been established. You do so by placing your chip(s) in the middle of the Pass Line box directly in front of you.

The stickman will offer the shooter 5 dice and the shooter will pick 2. He then rolls the dice to the back wall of the table at the opposite end of the table.

If the shooter rolls a 7 or 11, it is a winner and all pass line bets are paid even money.

If the shooter rolls a 2, 3 or 12 all of the pass line bets lose, but the shooter keeps the dice.

If any other number comes up that number becomes the point. The dealers will take the Puck and turn in so that “On” side is up and place it on the number at the top of the table.

on button

The shooter will continue to roll until either the point comes up or she rolls a 7.

If the shooter hits the point, all of the pass line bets are paid even money and the same shooter rolls again.

If a 7 is rolled before the point is rolled all of the pass line bets lose and the dice pass to the next shooter.

Odds Bets

The pass line bet pays even money, which is obviously a nice benefit for the house. However all casinos allow you to back up your pass line bet with an odds bet. The odds bet pays true odds if the point is rolled. You make you odds bet by placing the bet behind your pass line bet.


The true odd for the points are:

4 & 10 2-to-1
5 & 9 3-to-3
6 & 8 6-to-5

The odds bet is the best bet in craps as there is no house edge. The amount you can wager on the odds bet varies from casino to casino. Most offer “2X” odds, meaning if you bet $5 on the pass line you can bet $10 on the odds bets. However 10X and even 100X odds can be found.

The mathematically best true odds bet is 2X as this reduces the house edge to the lowest possible number. The higher odds bets also reduce the house edge but not by a significant margin.

You should always make an odds bet.

In the next installment, we’ll start our tour around the table and show why craps is such an action game.


Introduction to Razz

We finish up our Casino Cash Vault Casino School series on 7-card Stud Variations with Razz.

Razz has been described in a lot of ways. It’s called an “old man’s game” and is often one of the most frustrating games in poker.

Razz had almost disappeared from the poker world. The WSOP Razz bracelet event and its role as the “R” in H.O.R.S.E were mainly providing a lifeline to the game until online poker gave Razz a shot in the arm. The game is regularly found online in both ring games and tournaments.

Razz is a lowball version of 7-Card Stud, meaning the “worst” hand wins.

The structure of Razz is the basically the same as in 7-Card Stud:

All players ante and receive two down cards and one face up (the door card).

The highest door card must make the bring in bet.

On fourth street and beyond the lowest hand acts first.

Betting Limits Double on Fifth Street.

Aces are always low.

Straights and Flushes don’t count against you.

There is no qualifying low. A full house will win if against a higher full house.


Starting Hands

Like all 7-Card Stud games Razz is a drawing game.

A three card 7 or better is an excellent starting hand. Often you will see players enter the pot with a 9 showing. Unless the 9 is the lowest door card this is a very weak play.

Low pairs with a low kicker are playable, especially if the kicker is an Ace.


Giving free cards in Razz is a big mistake. When you have the lowest door card always raise.

Bet aggressively. Your hand can go south on any street. While pairing one of your cards is not a total disaster, you are now far more vulnerable.

You want to maintain your aggression on every street. When your opponent catches bad, say a high card or high pair, bet out.  You should also bet whenever your opponent checks to you if you have any reasonable hand. Razz players are relatively straightforward. A check is usually a legitimate sign of weakness.

Strong hands are hard to come by and you want to make as much profit from them as possible. In Razz you have to be willing to make thin value bets with non-nut hands.

Weaker Razz players have a tendency to check-call on every street hoping to catch a miracle card. You should either bet, raise or fold when the action is to you.



Know Your Outs

Just like in other Stud games you have to know which of your outs are live.


Running a successful bluff in Razz is slightly easier than in other Stud games.  Just remember that your bluff has to tell a consistent story. Set up your bluffs on the first round of betting, just remember that you have to have a very good door cards.  A 2, 3 or 4 are ok if you have the one of the lowest door cards on the board. You can make this bluff regardless of your hole cards, even high pocket pairs. You hope to catch a good low card on fifth and for your opponent to catch bad.

Have a Plan

Once you look at your hand you need to develop a plan.  Be aware of what you need to continue and start to put your opponents on a range of hands. You should know exactly where you stand on Fifth Street when the betting limits double.  Drawing thin and hoping to catch a miracle card is not a blueprint for success.

Yes, Razz is frustrating; especially when you watch your strong hand evaporate on Fourth and Fifth Street. The game is also a lot of fun and one that rewards sound strategy and patience.


Introduction to 7-Card Stud Hi/Low

In this continuation of Casino Cash Vault’s Casino School lesson on 7-Card stud we will look at one of the main variations of the game; 7-Card Stud Hi/Low.

7-Card Stud Hi/Low with is also called 7-Card Stud 8 or better (8b) is seldom spread as a ring game in brick and mortar casinos, but can be found regularly at online poker sites.  The game is also a standard part of mixed game formats; both online and in land based poker rooms.  The game is also a tournament staple and is the “E” in HORSE.

This game is also called 7-Card Stud 8 or better (8b). A qualifying low hand consists of five cards all ranked 8 or lower and no pairs. Aces are low, high or both and straights and flushes do not count against you for low hands.

The general concepts discussed in the Casino School Introduction to 7-Card Stud apply to the 8b variant as well. However, there are some specific strategies for 8b. Remember you can’t learn a bunch of starting hands and most of the time you can’t bully the table.

Reading Hands – Low hands are read from high to low. An 8-5-4-3-2 is a better than 8-6-3-2-A.

Hole Cards – You can play different hole cards to make your high and low.

Starting Hands – Your goal is to scoop the pot, so ideally you want two-way hands. A suited Ace with 2 wheel cards is very strong. Rolled-up hands (3 of a kind), high pair, whether split or hidden, and 3 cards to a straight or flush are playable even though you are most likely playing for only half the pot with those hands. Avoid drawing to middle straights or low flushes as these hands are not only unlikely to scoop, they are most likely losers.

Stay Focused – Paying attention to every hand is a key trait of winning poker players regardless of the game. In 7-Card Stud Hi/Low you have to watch every street. Note how players play particular door cards. Do they chase when many of their outs are dead? Do they frequently fold to a three-bet?  Do they slow down on 5th street when the bets double?

Tracking Your Outs – We mentioned this is the Introduction to 7-Card Stud, but it is worth repeating. You must keep track of the cards that are out. Failing to remember that one of your outs was another player’s door card which he folded can prove costly.

Patience – Most players do not join a game planning to fold. You should. You simply don’t get strong hands that often which leads to boredom, which leads to playing marginal hands, which leads to your chips going into someone else’s stack.

Playing Low – In Omaha 8b it is often a mistake to play low only hands. That is not the case with 7-Card Stud 8b as you odds of getting quartered are less. Play your low only hands aggressively especially if you have two players that are obviously battling for high. Raise and re-raise on every opportunity.

Betting – Bet aggressively. If you have three cards to a wheel with the low door card always complete as opposed to making the standard bring-in.  Stud is a drawing game and you want to make your opponents draws as expensive as possible.

As Stud regains a bit of its former prominence, you’ll find many weaker players at the table. Use a conservative strategy as you start out and develop your own style as you gain experience. The game can be fairly profitable.

In our next and final installment of Casino Cash Vault’s Casino School section on 7-Card Stud games we will look at what many consider to be poker’s most frustrating game; Razz.