Seven Card Stud Hi-lo is a very intricate game that is a hybrid that exists mostly because of how online play has helped to encourage less traditional games for those players who want a little extra spice in their playing. One thing to understand about 7 Card Stud Hi-Lo is that the same aggressiveness found in the best stud players is also found in the best stud hi-lo players. The hidden cards can cause even the most statistically capable of people to get a migraine. With highs and lows, and three hidden cards to every player’s hidden hand, the math can be crazy.
One of the first things you need to understand about Seven Card Stud Hi-Lo, also commonly just referred to as Seven Card Hi-Lo, is that as with all Hi-Lo games, many players are so enamored with the possibility of splitting the pot with a low hand that they end up overvaluing low hands, especially when they don’t have a straight or flush forming to at least give them a chance at a high hand. Chasing lows doesn’t make a lot of sense, so when players keep raising you with nothing showing, be cautious, but always watch what they show, and don’t back down if you have a good high hand.
The other is to always play strong. You can be tempted to slow play, but without community cards you can’t have a good idea of what hands every single player at the table has. Given enough time and attention, you can spot tells and patterns from players and tell the bluffers from the conservatives, and the loose aggressive players from the smart aggressive players. This will help you know when to push your bluff, or fold unless you have strength.
Suppose you have this hand, with five of seven cards dealt:
|Hole Cards:||Showing Cards:|
|:td: :6d:||:2c: :ah: :2d:|
This is not a strong hand at all. In fact, unless you were the large blind and no one raised, there really is no reason you should have limped in with this hand. But with the A-2 showing, you should raise, because A-2 is the strongest start to a low hand. Ideally in this situation you have 4-5 in the blinds. You have nothing close to this, but if everyone just limped, then one bet should often separate at least some of the junk. With the second two, that doesn’t help you out a lot, because it makes it less likely you have a low, but what if you have A-2 in the blinds?
The likelihood of that is next to nothing, but if the betting is weak and no one is willing to re-raise, then you may be able to force several folds, especially if people refuse to raise, and are chasing lows themselves. Playing strong also will help raise the pot in the unlikely scenario where you get another three, get two runners to make a low hand, flush, or straight. Playing strong here, even if you fail, is also beneficial. Everyone calls down and you lose, but what happens next time when you show A-2, but this is your hand?
|Hole Cards:||Showing Cards:|
|:2c: :3c:||:ac: :4d:|
Not only is your chance at getting a low hand, and the best low hand, incredible, but the chance of getting a flush is very real, as well as a straight, and there is still a strong chance at a high hand. Suppose you get a five of clubs next? You get to keep pushing it, knowing you are going to take at least part of the pot, and everyone is going to feed it despite the warning signs because playing aggressive early lets you play aggressive late.