If you are like a large and ever-expanding portion of the population, you have probably seen some poker on TV. If so, you may have noticed that the same players consistently have success at the top level of poker. Contrary to what some may believe, this not because those players are luckier than everyone else. Those players play skillfully and consistently. Doing that over a long period of time removes luck from the poker equation.
The top players in the world involve not just the cards when making decisions and as part of their poker strategy, but also playing styles. The word style here has nothing to do with fashion – in fact, many poker players are some of the worst dressers you may ever encounter. Styles refers to one’s particular way of playing the game, in this case seven card stud, and top players not only play with their own style, but also take the usual playing styles of their opponents into account.
Seven Card Stud Poker playing styles can be classified using two sets of diametrically opposed adjectives: loose versus tight, and passive versus aggressive.
Tight/loose describes how often a player will get involved in hands. A tight player will fold most of the time, tending only to play with premium cards. A loose player takes the opposite tack, choosing to play more than their share of hands. Passive/aggressive describes how a player bets when in a hand. A passive player will often sit back and let an opponent take control of the betting on a particular hand rather than betting themselves. A player who is aggressive likes to be “in the driver’s seat,” firing away at the pot and forcing his opponents to keep up. With these two sets of descriptors, we create four classes of player: loose-passive, tight-passive, loose-aggressive, and tight-aggressive.
Any type of passive player is generally considered weak. These players will give their opponents too many free cards, allowing players to catch up and beat them, even though they previously held the best hand. This style of play is generally not profitable and ill-advised.
Most of the leading poker players advocate an aggressive style at the table. This allows you to force your opponents to make tough decisions, to make them pay to try to hit their draws. Over the long run, playing this way will result in larger pots, more of which will be pushed in your direction than if you play passively. There are plenty of players who like to play loose-aggressive, and do just very well at it, but most players would probably recommend a tight-aggressive strategy. That is, play only good hands, and play them fast.
This is not to stay that once you have adopted a particular style that you should always play this way – quite the opposite, in fact. It is important to vary one’s play in order to keep opponents from getting a read on a poker tell. A tight player, for instance, may sometimes raise with a junk hand in order to steal a pot or just to alter the way the other players see him. Predictability at a poker table spells trouble.
As alluded to a few times above, just as important as your own poker playing style is that of your opponents. You need to be able to read your opponents to get an idea of what they are playing at what times and why.
In seven card stud, you have the added advantage of being able to see most of your opponent’s hand. Use this information, combined with how you have seen them play previously, when making your decisions.
Hopefully this seven card stud playing styles article is of some help to your poker strategy.