Becoming A Stud

November 8th, 2010 Leave a comment Go to comments

I want to talk about the part the books don't cover. Stud, like other poker flavors, is deceptively simple. Those riverboat gamblers could teach it to a rich planter in a few minutes. At least as long as Mike Sexton isn't there to throw in, “…and a lifetime to master.”


Stud is maligned by being called an old man's game. And, yeah, I know what I am – don't rub it in. The reason Hold'em took the scene over completely is it is simple to watch. TV knows it is deceptively simple to watch. So, all the other stuff got moved to a back burner. Even the $50K HORSE played out the final table for TV in Hold'em.


Because it is popular, most players that give Stud a go come with a Hold'em bias. This is a much different game. About the only real help is what hand beats what hand. People don't quickly understand that and use the wrong skill set. Most are NL players used to pushing an advantage early and aggressively. Most think two pair is the nuts. They think counting outs is easy and can quickly know whether or not to call.


There is a ton of info on the net about stud technique. The West book is an easy read. If you are anal retentive and do math problems on lunchbreak, the Sklansky book is where to go. It is the master's course in Stud; but, is dense information overload at the git go.


Hand Strength

I mentioned an old book that said the average hand is a set of nines that was laughed at in a chat session when I mentioned it. That's because a lot of hands are won with lesser hands. But, there are a lot of hands that are much bigger. Boats, flushes, straights crop up all the time. So, the Hold'em guy is going to get his buried AA and push it long and hard without regard for what the board shows.



Coming from NLH is no advantage. Implied odds are out the door and replaced by pot odds. With the tendency at low and mid stakes to see a flop, a lot of hands have the odds to participate. The secret here isn't so much starting hand as knowing when to get out. People usually don't have a clue and well talk about that. If there is one quick thing Sklansky harps on is that aggression should happen late with a made hand. Get this idea firmly embedded in you Stud psyche.


Bricks and Tombstones

Poker terms are an interesting mix. Bricks are cards that don't help your hand. With seven cards your due, the tendency is to discount the first brick. Pot odds may let you hope to sneak on but that puts you in a position of needing help two out of the three times left. You need huge pot odds. It is the most common failing you'll see.


Tombstones are my own contribution. This is about dead cards. The info that develops as cards are exposed on four streets affect you chances at success. Even on third street, there will be information at times that turns a great starting hand into bupkus. An example is having broadway suited. Nice hand. But if two of the suit are up it get a bit iffy and if three are up you can fold. But, the average player only see what he holds. I watched three jacks up on third street and all three participate in the bring-in.


Starting Hands

You'll get more and better info by doing a Google search for Stud tutorials than I am able or willing to provide. There are really two types – strong and speculative. You don't play the spec ones from early position. You reserve them for situations where the pot odds make them workable. In many respects they are a better hand than those considered strong. Why? Hit the first brick and you've limited your potential loss.



Not really. It is a tool called Stud Inspector. The free download lets you use it at the funny money tables. It shows the cards played and displays the odds for all the various possibilities. In some respects it is overkill. But, it is a great way to get the feel for how bricks and tombstones dramatically change things. If you multitask better than I do , you might find it very useful. I use it rarely at this point but it is great when you are getting your sea legs and you can decide on that after trying the funny money which is the place to start.


Bring-in and Completing

The game isn't about blinds it is an ante game. Most online sites have a reasonable ante. That's typically under 20% of the small bet. If it is more, then you need to find more hands to play or steal with. Stealing with any three is -EV. Completing in the typical multiway pot is also -EV.



There is a lot of info that develops playing Stud. On Full Tilt, they shuffle the downs so you don't know which two he began with. On UB they are shown in order – a big plus. You will make money with reads and that means keeping notes. We all do it differently but you want to have something going. I also have Poker Tracker for Stud that give a lot of info. It is a nice help but the software is so-so. I can't recommend it.


Executive Summary

Stud is a great game to add to your skill set. They say variety is the spice of life and, if that is so, you will benefit. The “old man's game” charges hides what can be a very profitable skill. The fish wear billboards. While drawouts are commonplace, the good player has the same chance and is doing it from a more powerful hand. It isn't hard to find loose-passive players/tables. That's a license to steal.

  1. November 8th, 2010 at 13:26 | #1

    Nice post. So, Josie talks nice and has her way with you? (kidding)
    "If there is one quick thing Sklansky harps on is that aggression should happen late with a made hand."
    I've found the same thing with Omaha-8 tournaments.

  2. November 8th, 2010 at 17:14 | #2

    Yeah, and she wouldn’t even need to shower.

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