7 Card Stud for Bonus Clearing

pokersource.com offers great bonuses and gifts for completing certain requirements at their affiliate poker sites. While the vast majority of players out there use Texas Hold'em as their main game to complete these requirements, many should consider 7 Card Stud as an effective way to not only complete bonuses, but also to build their arsenal of poker games.

Chances are that if you’re an online poker player then Hold Em is your game. It’s the "Cadillac of Poker". It’s the game the professionals play on TV. And, let’s face it, it’s a great deal of fun.

Bonuses are great because they enhance the gaming experience in a variety of ways. A cash bonus can either pad your winnings or prop up your bankroll if you’ve found a dry spell of cards. An affiliate bonus like PSO’s point system is further icing on the cake -- your play can earn you free stuff on top of whatever money (including a poker room cash bonus) you take off the table.

Using your Hold Em game to clear a bonus is sometimes a laborious activity, however, especially at lower limits. A bonus may be released only after you play a certain amount of “raked hands”. For some poker rooms, the house must not only rake the hand you play but you must have contributed to the pot. If you’re a skilled Hold Em player you may only choose to get involved in a pot with quality hands or when you have a positional advantage. Therefore, bonus clearing via Hold Em can seem like a grind, where hours and hours at the table while slowly counting qualify hands through selective play.

Those players should consider 7 Card Stud as an alternative way of completing those bonuses, for at least some of the hands.

Play at 7 Card Stud can offer you a number of advantages:

- Poker experts agree that it is important to your growth as a poker player to diversify your game repertoire. The more variety you have in your poker experience the better your understanding will be of poker theory in general.

- 7 Card stud is an ante game: you will contribute to each and every pot via ante. Therefore, if your bonus requirement stipulates that you must contribute, you’ve already done so via your ante.

- There’s an extra round of betting in a 7 Card Stud game vs. a Hold Em game. Thus, there’s a greater chance that the pot will be raked even at lower limits.

- 7 Card Stud is not as popular as Hold Em. People chase cards, and often the play is poor. Aggressive but smart play on your part can be rewarded.

The order of play at 7 Card Stud is straightforward, with only a few differences for someone familiar with only Hold Em:

- A full ring usually seats 7 or 8 people. Bonus question: What happens in an 8-handed 7 Card Stud game if all 8 people decide to stay in until the river (8 people x 7 cards = 56 cards)? Answer at the end of this article.

- Everyone is forced to make a mandatory ante, usually $.10 or $.20 at tables with a $.50/$1.00 limit or lower.

- Players are dealt 3 cards; two face down and one face up (the “up” card). Notice that there is no flop. 7 Card Stud is not a flop game. This will feel strange to you if you’re making a transition to 7 Card Stud from exclusively play at Hold Em.

- The player with the lowest ranking “up” card opens the betting with a forced bet known as the “bring in” bet. This bet may be half or the entire minimum bet ($.25 or $.50 in a $.50/$1.00 game for example).

Each player may call, raise, or fold after the bring in bet. Betting goes in a clockwise order.

After this initial round of betting, each player receives a fourth card. Betting starts with the player showing the highest ranking up cards. On fourth street, betting is at the minimum ($.50 in a $.50/$1.00 game).

On both Fifth and Sixth Streets, betting progresses to the maximum ($1.00 in a $.50/$1.00 game). As with each round of betting, players have the option to check, call, raise, or fold. A round of betting always starts with the player showing the highest ranking up cards.

Seventh Street is dealt face down. One final round of betting occurs, after which all cards are exposed and the best poker hand is awarded the pot.

It truly is an easy game to understand. It won’t take long for those of you coming from a Hold Em background to understand a 7 Card Stud game. Both games involve seven cards, and a good hand in one game is a good hand in the other. Here are a few tips to get you started:

Examining the board in 7 Card Stud doesn’t involve analyzing the Flop but instead analyzing your opponent’s up cards. What are they showing? What are they representing with their betting pattern? What might they be drawing to? How many of the cards you’re drawing to, cards you need to complete a flush or a straight, are already dead?

Open with good quality starting hands, only: a pocket pair or a set, or a flush or straight draw to a high card. Notice your opponents up cards before opening. If you hold two tens but two of your opponents each show a ten, then tens are “dead”. Your pair of tens won’t itself improve to three of a kind, for example.

Good pairs and high-card starters won’t take as many pots at lower-limit Seven Card Stud as they might at comparable limit Hold Em. A pair of kings in your starting hand may not win as often as you’d like unless it improves. You have 4 cards to come, but so do your opponents. Much can happen in those last 4 cards.

That said, open with a raise! You’re only playing with quality hands, so make others pay for chasing their long shot draws. Weed out opponents who aren’t willing to take a gamble and chase. Raise-up your starting pair of kings and see what kind of action you get back.

Quite often, you’ll find that people will call in the early rounds of betting to chase cards. Make them pay for it and keep the pressure on. Pay close attention to their up cards, however. If they are betting back at you aggressively with what may be a made draw by Fifth or Sixth Street, then consider folding.

If you are still on a draw by Fifth or Sixth Street and you can’t beat what your opponents are showing through their up cards, then re-evaluate the strength of your draw and consider folding.

Fold your starting hand if you’ve got an Ace showing and bricks in the hole. Your quality opponents will respect your raises with other hands if they see you occasionally fold an Ace up.

Mix up your game. Get caught bluffing once in a while and sometimes limp in with a powerhouse. Like Hold Em, you want to keep yourself and your play hard to read.

When you hit the tables for the first time, start out smart, tight, and aggressive. Make them chase, and make them pay for chasing. Poker is poker, after all. You’ll find 7 Card Stud to be quite enjoyable and you’ll become a more well-rounded poker player via your experience at the 7 Card Stud tables, and that your bonus completing will go much faster in the process.

Bonus Answer: What happens at an 8 seat 7 Card Stud table if everyone stays in until Seventh Street? Officially in this case Seventh Street is dealt as a community card. The ultimate irony for the Hold Em player, a flop at last!