Selecting and Playing Best Starting HandsAs in other poker variants, making the correct starting hand selection holds great significance in Five Card Stud poker too. Continuing to play a poor or mediocre hands is easily the worst mistake a large number of beginners make in this game. Let’s learn how to select the best starting hands and play them well in Five Card Stud poker.
Good starting hands
Pairs – You can consider yourself very lucky if you get a pair in your starting hand, more so if the pair is of an ace or one of the face cards. However, getting a pair slightly lower than face cards is also good as it’ll still put you ahead of others. But avoid playing on low pairs as you may most likely get defeated by a higher pair of one of the opponents.
High-value cards – In case your starting hand doesn’t have any pair, you must check if there are any high-value cards in it. Getting a suited king and ace is also an excellent combination as it increases your chances of creating a strong pair, flush or straight in the subsequent betting rounds.
Higher than the opponents’ cards – In the event that you get neither a pair nor any of the high-value cards in your starting hand, you must compare your cards with others’ face up cards. You may still have some chance in the game if your cards rank higher than your opponents’ up cards.
High-value facedown or hole card – If your hole card is better than any up card on the table, you must continue playing your hand. Although many players prefer having ace as their hole card, even a King can help you beat your opponents.
Same suit cards – It doesn’t matter if you don’t get any of the above listed hands, if you get two cards of the same suit in your opening hand, there’s a very good chance that you may end up with a flush by the end of the game. Furthermore, if you get two high-value cards of the same suit, even if you miss the flush, there’s a high likelihood of making a high pair later.
Connectors – Although these cards don’t hold as much value in Five Card Stud poker as they do in other variants like Texas hold ‘em, you can still play them if they’re of high-value. This is because they may possibly help you make high pairs during the later stages of the game (even if you don’t manage a straight).
How to effectively play your starting hands
Playing slow – Playing slow in Five Card Stud poker is all about bloating up the pot value. However, this strategy must be used very carefully as it can turn on its head and backfire. Experts suggest that slow play should only be indulged in if you get exceptionally good hands. The ideal Five Card Stud poker strategy recommends raising on pairs and thinning the playing field to the maximum.
Bets and raises – In the event that you get a couple of high-value cards in your starting hand, you mustn’t hesitate betting on them right from the word go. Doing so will scare away any players with poor or mediocre hands. However, you must not get too obsessed with these high-value cards. And should not hesitate folding them if they don’t seem like helping in the subsequent betting rounds.
With respect to the position – In Five Card Stud poker, it’s the player having the highest or lowest face up cards/hand who starts the betting action, depending on the specific betting round you’re currently in. Hence, the starting player may change from one betting round to the next. As is self-evident, anyone who bets last gets the maximum advantage in this scenario, as he/she can fold, call a raise depending on the actions of other players.