Magnificent 7 Stud!

Dec 30, 2003 3:56 AM

Seven Card Stud. Now, there’s a name for a real poker game. It ain’t flippity-flop bingo.

Those who prefer the floppy ’n’ sloppy were faced with a problem ”” how to make their game sound more macho to attract rough, tough poker players. So, they called it Texas Hold’em.

But, the fact remains. Stud is the Stomping Grounds. Here, the end comes not with the flick of a flop, but with slow, nerve-wracking cuts and stabs.

Seven-Stud is not a trap shoot like Hold’em, where you just holler "Pull!" and when the flop flies, you either hit it or miss it. In 7-Stud, you have to stalk your prey.

The deeper you go into the 7-Stud Wilderness, the less certain it becomes who is the hunter and who is the hunted. Consequently, good players have a keen sense of smell.

Seven-Stud is like a Western movie. It could be called For a Few Dollars More. Players face off on the main street of Potsville and march toward each other. With each card, they can draw and fire.

The Stud Frontier is a harsh, unforgiving place. There are only the quick and the dead.

Some days you’re John Wayne, able to beat all the bad guys without even getting dirty. Other days you’re at the Alamo.

Stud is deliberate. You can’t rush to judgment like you can in Hold’em. More often than in Hold’em, it seems the life you take may be your own.

For the most part, Stud Country is in the East. Out West, the preference is for Hold’em, Omaha High-Low, and Pai Gow.

More than three-quarters of the players in Atlantic City belong to the Stud Herd. There’s little Hold’em action. Studs often consider Hold’em a "kinky" kind of card combat.

T. Nolan Dalla wrote an article in which he examined why it is that 7-Stud "remains king" in Atlantic City. He concluded it’s the game most Easterners grew up playing.

Dalla sounds like he thinks Eastern players are afflicted with a bad gene. He says the preference for Stud is "carried from one family member to another, and from one generation to the next."

In his opinion, he doesn’t think things will change much. He makes reference to "old dogs" and "new tricks."

For Dalla, game preference seems to be largely a matter of culture. There are, however, some strong reasons for considering Stud over other games.

Poker "scientist" Mason Malmuth has compelling reasons for playing Stud over other games. He points out that "Stud is more complex. This means that real experts can play significantly better than the typical player."

There are about 250,000 possible hands in a deck of cards. But, in Hold’em or Omaha, once the flop flies, there is only a good hand or two.

In Stud, upcards give the experienced player a greater advantage over the less experienced player. The expert has more information and the skills to use it.

When poker author Bob Ciaffone became a prop player at Hollywood Park Casino a couple of years ago, one of the games he played was $15-30 Stud. Since becoming a poker pro in the ’70s, he had played very little Stud.

"I now look at the game through a new pair of eyes," Ciaffone writes. "There’s a lot more to the game than many players realize."

In a tournament, the 7-Stud event is a long, hard trip to market. Most don’t make it. The bones of the busted are scattered along the trail.

Only a few players in a 7-Stud tournament make it to the final roundup. Some are lost along the way, some are taken down by rustlers, and most end up as chipped beef.

In a tournament, members of the Stud Herd sniff, snort, and paw the ground. Eventually, a player lowers his head and charges into the center ring. When another player responds likewise, there can be quite a collision in the cash corral.

Although 7-Stud seems simple, the fact of the matter is, it’s one of the most difficult, demanding, exciting, and challenging poker games. A player must make calculations, evaluations, bets, threats, checks, and calls.

To play winning 7-Stud poker requires knowledge, experience, and a great deal of self-discipline. Bet on it.