Give me seven cards
Hello from Germany, where we are basking in the afterglow of the European Poker Tour returning to Berlin. It's always a great time, and one aspect of the schedule I really liked this year was the inclusion of a couple of seven-card stud events, one of which is a pot-limit event. There was even a five-card stud event this time, too (also pot-limit)!
My background is of course in seven-card stud, as I won my WSOP bracelet in a $1,500 7CS event back in 2007. It's a wonderful game -- perhaps a somewhat technical game like Omaha hi/lo -- and I really think it deserves to be more popular than it is.
Seven-card stud requires completely different skills than hold'em, because you have to pay attention to other players' up cards and make different calculations when it comes to making hands. It's a challenging game that requires players to concentrate a lot on every hand, focusing both on the exposed cards as well as on how opponents play their hands. It's a lot different from the flop games where there aren't so many cards to keep up with and you can focus more on opponents' tells and the psychology of the game, and where the math of the game is somewhat less complicated, too.
The fact is, stud requires a completely different mindset than no-limit hold'em. A player I really admire is Jeffrey Lisandro, an excellent stud player who has won several bracelets in stud games. He has a very analytical mind and it translates especially well to the stud games.
Stud also actually has a lot of parallels to this new open-face Chinese poker that is becoming increasingly popular of late. That game actually requires more skill than regular Chinese poker, and in fact I've seen Lisandro play very well at open-face Chinese poker which is no surprise to me. He has exactly the mindset for the game.
During the last European Poker Championship in Austria there were a couple of seven-card stud cash games going. Normally I'm one of the oldest guys at the table, but in those games I was one of the youngest. That's usually the case, with older guys more used to the game and therefore playing in it, although the truth was the stud games were softer than the no-limit hold'em games and so they presented a great opportunity for those who wanted to play.
Seven-card stud certainly takes more time to learn in the beginning than does hold'em, which is probably one reason why hold'em is more popular. But it's worth the effort, I think. If you can play with focus and concentrate, you can definitely have an edge that will translate into profit for you. You can make more money in stud than in no-limit hold'em or pot-limit Omaha (in my opinion), and you experience less variance, too.
Like I say, I very much appreciated all of the stud events being included on the EPT Berlin schedule this time. There are also some more opportunities coming up soon for stud players to play in tournaments such as in the Spring Championship of Online Poker in May as well as at the World Series of Poker this summer in Las Vegas. It's a great time to jump into the game, if you haven't already!
Michael Keiner is a member of Team PokerStars Pro