8 Game Strategy Part V – Stud 8 or Better
In this week’s article on 8-Game strategy, we cover a game that is probably the most misunderstood among the 8-game mix and that is Stud 8 or Better. It is played exactly like regular Stud except for the fact that there is a split pot when a qualifying low exists. Out of all the games in 8-Game, this tends to be the one players make the most mistakes with. Here are some quick and dirty tips to improve your Stud 8 game.
Play Two Way Hands Consistently or Plan to Donate
Seven Card Stud experts and others come into Stud 8 or Better with the idea that since there isn’t always a low hand, they can pump high starting hands at will and try to force players out. The problem with this logic is that hands such as a big pair or two pair do not scoop often enough to make this type of play profitable long term in multi-way pots. It can work in heads-up pots, but you will not find heads-up pots often enough in most cases to make this feasible.
Focus on starting hands that give you solid scoop potential. You are looking for three baby cards, preferably suited and with an ace. A low pair with another baby or an ace is fair as well but must be dumped when it does not improve. About the only high hand that you will play consistently is aces, and then you will have to be careful when your hand does not improve.
Improve on Fourth Street or Dump
Many players in Stud 8 will stay in a hand until 5 street almost regardless of action because that is what they will do in Stud High. Again, this is a big mistake because when you do not improve a scoop worthy hand on fourth, you are giving yourself long odds to complete your hand by the river. The exception would be in spots where you miss and can see fifth for free or if you are in a spot where every other player hit badly. An example of this would be you staring with 3-4-5 and catching a jack and your other opponents holding low cards and also catching a nine or above.
Thin the Field on Fourth When Improving
You start with a three low hand and improve on fourth. Other opponents do not appear to have outdrawn you. It is time to thin the field a bit with a bet. Good players that do not improve will get out of your way on fourth with a bet and you can usually define your remaining player’s hand a bit better when they choose to stay in.
Bet Your Hands When You Cannot Be Scooped
Most people don’t know that Greg Raymer is a great mixed games player. Something he once mentioned to me is that he is always betting once it is clear that he cannot be scooped. This seems obvious, but most people will fail to bet when they are only locking up one side of the pot as they think they will only break even.
However, there are times where betting aggressively will force out weaker hands. For example, if you’re showing a low and betting aggressively, a player with just a pair of sixes may decide to dump their hand, figuring you have a couple of baby pair or have picked up a pair of aces or better.
The thing to remember in Stud 8 is that you are looking to scoop hands. When you do not scoop in a heads-up hand, you get your money back. When playing one-way hands in multi-way pots, you are asking to get yourself scooped or you are risking a huge amount in order to make a small profit.
Next week we look at the game most people hate to play in an 8-Game mix. That’s right, it is Razz time.