Seven card stud hi lo is a game that should be more popular than it is. Unfortunately, it was the community card games that ended up with majority share of the poker explosion. But you’ll usually find a few seven card hi lo games online and these are some good tactics to ponder over.
YOU CAN CALL WITH AVERAGE LOW HANDS
In Omaha hi lo, it is difficult to call the river with 2-4-x-x when the board is K-6-7-8-Q and expect to win the low half of the pot. You will usually find a player in there with A-3-x-x or 2-3-x-x or even A-4-x-x (not to mention A-2-x-x every now and again).
But in seven card hi lo, you’ll often find that when you make a low, you’ll be the only person in the pot with a hand that qualifies for the low half of the pot. For example, if you have (5-7)-6-J-3-8-(10) and your two opponents have (x-x)-A-K-9-8-(x) and the other has (x-x)-J-6-6-Q-(x), there is a very good chance that you are the only player in the pot with a low hand. But this comes down to watching your opponents’ exposed cards and taking an educated guess regarding their hole cards based on their betting patterns throughout the hand.
For example, let’s say a relatively conservative player brings it is with a raise and has (x-x)-K. If, by sixth street, he has (x-x)-K-8-5-A, it would be fair to say that he wouldn’t have a low. This player is somewhat conservative, so we know that his starting requirements will be reasonable. As such, we can pretty much rule out the possibility of him starting with a hand like (2-4)-K. Furthermore, this player raised, which makes me almost certain that ONE of his two hole cards is either an ace, a king or a queen. Therefore, if he has (x-[A/K/Q])-K-6-5-A, he couldn’t possibly have a low on sixth street. As such, if you have an average low in this spot, you must call because you know that he doesn’t have a low.
NEVER CALL HEADS UP WITH A LOW DRAW, NOT MATTER HOW GOOD
The cardinal error of seven card stud is chasing a low heads up. I regularly see players who start with strong low draws and simply can’t let go and in the long run, those contests cost them a lot of money.
For example, you starts with (A-2)-3 and your opponent brings it in with a raise with (x-x)-Q. Everyone else folds and it’s heads up. On forth street, you have (A-2)-3-J and your opponent now has (x-x)-Q-Q. In this spot, you must certainly give up your low draw. You could be looking at trips or two pair, in which case, you will have to catch a string of miracles to win the high.
Moreover, if you opponent brought it in with a raise and by fourth street, he had (x-x)-Q-Q, you can pretty much guarantee that he doesn’t have any sort of low draw. As a result, it doesn’t matter whether you are drawing to a low with (A-2)-3 or (6-5)-8 because either will win half the pot. Accordingly, it makes no sense to draw with the former but not that latter.
If you want to draw simply for the low, do so when it is a multi-way pot. One of the beauties of seven card hi lo is that you will be splitting very few pots when you qualify for the low. This is in stark contrast to Omaha hi lo, where you will occasionally split the low half with another player when you both have A-2-x-x or A-3-x-x. But one of the down sides is that seven card hi lo will not have as many large multiway pots as Omaha hi lo. Therefore, if you purely want to draw to a low and it will cost you to draw in seven card hi lo, make sure there is value in the pot before pursuing it.
THE RULE OF THE “EIGHT”
If you are going for a low draw, there is one important rule that you must keep in mind: if there are several other players in the pot that seem to be going for lows as well, you must give it up if you have an eight.
Hands like (A-3)-8-K-4 seem attractive on fifth. But if two opponents have hands like (x-x)-5-6-2 and (x-x)-A-J-7 by fifth street, this is probably a good spot to fold. Let’s look at this first opponent’s hand in more detail so that you can understand the significance of the “Rule of ‘Eight’”:
a) HE MAY HAVE A LOW: His (x-x)-5-6-2 could be (A-3)-5-6-2 or maybe (2-4)-5-6-2, in which case, you have to catch two very good low cards to win the low.
b) HE MAY HAVE A LOW DRAW: Let’s say that he didn’t have a low, but has a hand like (4-5)-5-6-2. In this case, you will still need to catch two low cards if this player improves to a low as well. Even if he catches an eight, a 7 will not give you a better low in this spot.
c) YOU HAVE THE BETTER LOW DRAW: Let’s say he has (K-8)-5-6-2. Again, if he catches a 3 or an ace or even a 4, a 7 will not improve you to a better low hand. And you certainly don’t want to find yourself with a low and drawing for a better low!
All in all, you should see the enormous downside of a drawing to a low when you have an eight and your opponents also appear to be on low draws. Quite often, a seven is not a legitimate out for you and you may have to hit two good low cards to win the low half of the pot.