-Moving up from lower to higher table limits
Play strategy when moving from lower to higher limit tables changes for 7 card stud. In Texas Hold ‘Em, it is argued that your starting hands, betting and play strategy should remain consistent at any limit table. This idea is not true for 7 card stud.
At a full 8-player micro-limit table, (penny and dollar limits) there may be 6-to-all-8 players seeing the fourth and fifth street cards. The play is looser in the sense that the pots are more multi-way (a lot of people in the hand), and players are less likely to fold even when the obvious flushes and straights are on the board and a few players have hit two-pair.
Many times the bring-in is not raised out and everyone gets a chance to play. The micro-limit tables are a casual and fun way to play and get experience on all of the possibilities that can occur, and an opportunity to understand when you are beat and when to lay down a hand. Early and middle round raising rarely occurs at micro-limit tables. Usually raising and re-raising will occur on the last two streets of the hand when a player has 3 of a kind or better.
‘Chasing’ as it is known, or checking-and-calling to see the next card for as inexpensively as possible to stay in a hand to the river is a very common practice at micro-limit tables. Many tables will have players seated that are known as a “calling station". To paint an example picture of, “calling station” play; with 8 people in a hand, 7 people check around the table, the last person bets, and all 7 people call behind the bettor for nearly each round to the river.
At the higher limit tables underestimating or having a lack of understanding for the betting strategy is not so forgiving. Players with Kings or Aces-up by fifth street will not hesitate to re-raise over players betting out with flushes and straights showing. Even a meager pair of 5’s will take the opportunity to re-raise over a pair of 9’s or anyone with two pair in the hopes that if there are weak or scared players in a hand, they will drop out and lay down the better hand increasing the most aggressive player's opportunity to take the pot.
This more advanced type of betting strategy is known as “protecting a hand”. When a high pair or two pair make someone’s hand they will raise and re-raise in early rounds to get other players at the table to fold down so they will not be over-drawn on later streets.
This strategy works well as a scare tactic because it makes it difficult to tell what exactly the hand is that they are playing. They could be raising or re-raising with simply a single high pair, two pair, three of a kind, a one card draw to a flush with odds for it hitting. You will not know necessarily by what cards or out, just simply by the 'feel' of the player by their previous play history at the table and the history of wins at the showdown.
I do not suggest using hand-protection strategy for micro-limit tables with multi-way pots because of the unlikely ness of players to fold in the middle rounds, often causing your nice pair or two pair to become overturned by better cards in other people's hands on later streets.
Heads-up at micro-limit tables, and definitely at higher limit tables, I do recommend that putting hand protection strategy to use.
I have included an example hand from my own personal hand history on how hand protection strategy works, at the end of this article.
All-in-all when moving from a lower limit table to a higher limit table, be prepared to adjust to different sets of opening cards that you would otherwise not normally play; a pair of 4s with an 8 kicker vs door card 10s and above that have completed the bring in bet, for example. Know that the strategy changes mostly to “bet, raise, or fold” with little, if any, checking, and definitely know when to fold. Do not be afraid when you have hit two pair that you should protect your hand early to any draws that may be coming for straights and flushes by betting, raising or re-raising. Most likely with a one-card draw to a flush on fourth street you should raise at any opportunity possible at the possibility of it hitting to increase your pay-off down the line. Also see the Advanced Strategy section of this site for more information on this type of play.
Hand Protection Example Actual Hand History (Heads Up, Micro-limit table):
Player A: brings in for 15˘
Player B: raises to 25˘
StudStrategy: calls 25˘
Player A folds. I call because I am in early position to a raise with two of my hole cards being higher than the door cards all showing behind me. The rest of the table folds. The fourth street card is dealt:
StudStrategy bets 25˘. Player B raises to 50˘. StudStrategy re-raises to 75˘. Player B calls.
My comment on for fourth street is that while Player B could have very well hit a pair of kings raising to let me know he had a higher pair, a one-card draw to a straight, or raised to protect a pair of 10's. I re-raised here on a semi-bluff to get him to fold down wanting him to think I had three of a kind, and also to protect my hand in case I hit a second pair and he does not hit a second pair by the river which adds to my pot if the hand is won. Re-raising against two over-cards with sixes showing on fourth street heads-up, probably got him to thinking about forfeiting the pot or at least made calling scary. The fifth street hand is dealt:
StudStrategy bets 50˘. Player B calls. Sixth street is dealt:
StudStrategy bets 50˘. Player B calls. The 9d in my hand lessens the possibility of him hitting the low end of a straight on the river if it was exactly the card he needed. On sixth street I am still betting strong to his over cards and initial raise. I have remained constant to betting out in this case to keep an image of good hand strength against whatever he was drawing to. The river card is dealt:
Player B: :
StudStrategy bets 50˘. Player B folds. StudStrategy is returned 50˘ uncalled. 20˘ is raked from a pot of $4.85.