Stud: More on game selection


by Adam "STUDstood" Roberts

I have been getting some positive feedback with regards to this game selection topic so I would like to continue with it.

In addition to what we have already covered, other factors should be paid attention to when choosing which game(s) to compete in.

  • Do you prefer playing heads-up or short-handed?
  • There are many opportunities to do this, especially online. If and when the game you’re in fills up, quitting it and either joining a different short-handed game, or starting a heads-up game with someone else should not a problem, especially if you are able to play different game types and limits.

  • Does your playing style suit itself to heads-up, short-handed, or full games?
  • This is something only you will be able to determine, either by feel or results. Just remember that the “speed of the game” (both in actual hands dealt and the style of play), as well as the value of hands, differ as the amount of players in the game changes. One thing you do have to take into consideration is that heads-up and short-handed games may break down at a moment’s notice. If you are either stuck money in that game or on a positive “rush,”, you may not want that to happen. With full games, you can usually see when a game is in a precarious position to break down and then be able to act accordingly.

  • You usually have the option to start a short-handed game.


  • This way, you can get the seat you enjoy being in. This also may be prudent if you know that a certain “live one” is going to show up; your game is already going and will have open seats when this player arrives.

  • If you enjoy playing in multiple games online, it may be hard to play in short-handed or heads-up tables.
  • The concentration needed to play short games is tremendous, as opposed to playing in full games. Some people thrive on this, but others just can’t keep up. The type of game plays a part in this, too. For instance, although Stud is my best game, it is very hard for me to play in two Stud games at the same time, as opposed to Stud Hi/Lo or Razz, which take less concentration because of the style and structure of the game. In all of those games, there is also a premium on remembering the exposed cards, and the more Stud-style tables you play, the more difficult this is to do. Hold’em (whether limit, pot limit, or no limit) is better for playing in more games because remembering cards on each hand is not necessary.

  • Some players enjoy jumping from game to game, based on who is in the game at a given moment.
  • I try not to jump games just to seek out one player. You never know when that player is going to quit, who is going to join the game you just left, etc. I generally stay in the same game (or multiple games if I am online), because they are the most profitable for me. I know most of the regular players, and I have invested some time and energy in getting the feel for that particular game; every table change is like starting over. Plus, you never know who may show up.

  • If you know when your favorite game usually begins and ends, you may want to adjust your schedule to allow you to get in the most hours in that game.
  • This will sometimes be possible, and when it is, can help your profitability.

  • Do not berate the “live players”. In fact, try to be even nicer to them.
  • We covered this issue in a previous blog, but I want to reiterate it. Selecting a good game has little value if you yourself turn it into a bad one. Whether you are a professional or not, there is nothing a winning player can do that is worse than making a losing player feel uncomfortable, leading to him/her to either try and play better (to avoid being criticized or abused) or to quit your game completely. I will cover “game persona,” “table demeanor “and “gamesmanship” more in my next blog.

  • Try to not let your ego get in the way of who you are competing against
  • .

    You may want to try and play against the “best of the best,” even though you don’t have an edge in that spot. This is okay is if you are only playing poker for enjoyment. Playing with better players might help you improve your game (by watching their strategy at the table), but it will probably not be profitable, and if you are playing to win, you should avoid playing with better players.

    On the flip side, although you do want to play with inferior players, you should be sure that your game strategy against them does not become “personal,” where your own solid play veers off-line because of their poor play. Bad play and bad beats can put some people on tilt – don’t let it bother you.

    Thank you for reading my blogs, and for your feedback.

    You can find me in the $10/$20 and $30/$60 limit games in our Stud section, as well as in our weekly $215 buy-in tournaments. Please check the starting times of each of those events for your geographic area under Tourney > Special in the PokerStars lobby.

    Feel free to contact me with any questions, suggestions or thoughts at adamr@pokerstars.com. See you at the tables!

    Brad Willis
    @BradWillis in Strategy