If you like the idea of playing a poker game that is over a couple hundred years old, and is the original version, then 5-card Stud is the right one to choose. In this quick primer on basic winning strategies it is assumed that you know the hierarchies, values and names of poker hands.
Although 5-card Stud is one of the most elemental forms of the game, along with Draw Poker (both of which are often played in the home and taught to children without cash betting), there is infinite depth if you are willing to keep your mind open.
Particularly when it comes to reading your opponents and the art of bluffs, 5-card Stud has endless fascination. (Did you know that this game had the power to give soldiers in the Civil War a needed respite and distraction from their troubles?) Now let’s run through some basic best practices, from most easy to more advanced concepts.
Learn the Rules Inside and Out
A few things are particular to 5-card Stud, such as its variable betting order, its combination of a hole card at the beginning of each round as well as the fifth and last, and so forth. If you are used to other forms of poker, it is possible to get momentarily confused, at the wrong moment.
Not only is it absolutely necessary to get the rules of 5-card Stud straight in one’s head, the reflex for those rules must be second nature. To some extent this merely takes practice and direct experience. Playing online games can help preparation before actual sessions.
Never Bank on Your Up Cards
Your 3 showing board cards cannot be the strongest part of your hand, since they are visible to other players who therefore can read your precise position it they are all you’ve got. This is a very simple, beginner’s rule, but bears stressing.
A Pair or Better
If the cards you have received don’t hold a pair or something better than that, then why not fold and be patient? You may be eager to gain experience with actual gameplay, so that sitting out rounds may seem like a waste of time, but don’t look at things that way.
In fact, you be very choosy about your hands, and take every opportunity to reject poor cards by folding. Whenever you do, you’ll have a great opportunity to study others’ body language, their tells, and also pick up valuable lessons about the game indirectly. Many things you will learn this way better, since the pressure of playing your own hand will not be there.
Careful with Raising and Bluffing
Finally, a common mistake that newbies and learners make is to think that they can raise and bluff whenever they feel like they might look more confident than other players. Remember that many poker players are good actors, and your impressions of their confidence may be way off.
A great rule of thumb for smart bluffing is that you should have very good intelligence, if you will, about how other players react to doubtful hands in relation to you. Don’t bluff unless you feel quite sure it will work in a given context. As far as raising goes, just don’t do it unless you have a superior hand.
Playing the Classic
After you get the hang of 5-card Stud, let alone get some real skills, you will begin to enjoy the fact that you are playing one of the most historic, most interesting poker variations possible. Just think: this is the game that all your favourite cowboys and gunslingers were playing in those saloons in movies!