Thursday, April 2, 2009

The Importance Of Live Cards

Stud poker is a game of live cards. If the cards you need to improve your hand are visible in the hands of your opponents or have been discarded by other players who have folded, then the cards you need are said to be dead. But if those cards are not visible, then your hand is live.

Many beginning Seven-Card Stud players are overjoyed to find a starting hand that contains three suited cards. But before you blithely call a bet on Third Street, look around and see how many cards of your suit are showing. If you don't see any at all, you're certainly entitled to jump for joy.

But if you see three or more of your suit cavorting in your opponents' hands, then folding your hand and patiently waiting for a better opportunity may be the only logical course of action.

Even when the next card you are dealt is the fourth of your suit and no other cards of your suit are exposed, the odds are still 1.12-to-1 against completing your flush. Of course if you complete your flush, the pot will certainly return more than 1.12-tel, so it pays to continue on with your draw. But remember: Even when you begin with four suited cards, you'll make a flush only 47 percent of the time. (The sidebar "Consider the odds" offers more statistics.)

If you don't make your flush on Fifth Street, the odds against making it increase to 1.9-tel -which means you'll get lucky only 35 percent of the time. And if you miss your flush on Sixth Street, the odds against making your flush increase t o 4.1-tel. With only one more card to come you can count on getting lucky about only 20 percent of the time.

This also holds true for straight draws. If your first four cards are 9-10-J-Q, there are four kings and an equal number of eights that will complete your straight. But if three kings and an eight have already been exposed, the odds against completing a straight are substantially higher and the deck is now stacked against you, and even the prettiest looking hands have to be released.