Poker Beginners Guide: Opponent's Best Hand
As we have already seen, hand values in Seven-Card Stud are exactly the same as those in Hold’em. However, in Seven-Card Stud each player receives their own seven cards, for use by them and them alone. In Hold’em there is only one possible best hand for everyone, the nuts. In Seven-Card Stud, on the other hand, everyone has a different board. The best possible hand for one player will therefore almost always be different to that of another.
Since there are four up cards and only three down cards, at least one down card must be used, but you may of course use two down cards or even all three. Since your opponent must use at least two of his up cards means that you can always get a pretty idea of what his best possible hand is, just by analysing his board.
Let’s take a look at how this might work in practice.
In this example there are a whole range of hands that the opponent could be holding. For example, if he has A-K-Q as his three down cards then he could even have a royal flush (A-K-Q-J-10)! He could also have a smaller straight flush if two of his three down cards are either K-Q, Q-8 or 8-7.
For now, let’s assume that he doesn’t have a straight flush, what is his next best holding? Here it would be J-J-J for quad Jacks with a Ten kicker (J-J-J-J-10).
After quad (four of a kind) possibilities, his next best possible holding would be Jacks full of Tens. In that case he would need J-J-10 as his three down cards for a five-card hand of J-J-J-10-10. Note that in order to make a full house he must have a pair in his down cards if there is not one among the four up cards.
If he doesn’t have either a straight flush, or a pair/trips in his down cards, then his best possible holding would be an Ace-high flush. In that case he would need the Ace of spades together with another spade in his down cards.
It he were without either two spades or a pair/trips in his down cards, his next best possible holding would be A-K-Q for an Ace-high (broadway) straight: A-K-Q-J-10. Of course, other straights are also possible, along with trips, two pair, one pair and no pair.
We can therefore see that in Seven-Card Stud a wide range of hands are always possible for your opponent. The next section contains some tests based on the theme of reading your opponent’s board.
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