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Getting Reraised In Stud With An Ace Up

by Kevin Haney |  Published: Jan 10, 2024

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In Seven Card Stud, having an ace showing is a great card to attack the antes with since it’s quite rare that your opponents can beat the hand you are representing. Aggressive players realize this and will seek to slow you down with a variety of holdings including lower pairs, flush draws, connecting cards, or possibly just having an ace blocker in the hole.

How to best proceed is an interesting topic since the majority of the time you will not have a pair of aces. Many players advocate flatting their entire continue range, while others attempt to incorporate a mixed strategy.

Flatting Your Entire Continue Range

When you do have aces (or other strong hands), just calling the raise misses value on third street and fails to punish your opponent when he’s taking a shot at you. However, it does serve the purpose of protecting your entire range, and sometimes we will get to recoup the value lost on third street by getting a raise in on a big bet street.

But getting this raise in on a future street as a big favorite may prove difficult since we are often going to be first to act; unless our opponent improves on board in which case we are often behind.

With position your opponent can take free cards when he wants them, but bet when he has improved. He may be aware that you are protecting your range by potentially sandbagging aces, and this may induce him to check a little more often on future streets.

Your plan to check-raise fifth street can be thwarted by your opponent knuckling back with his weaker holdings, and when he does choose to bet your overall equity advantage may not be as good as hoped. In addition, your opponent’s board may develop somewhat scary with flush and straight potential where you feel it’s in your best interest to abort the check-raise plan altogether.

Finally, when flatting your entire range you are often reducing the probability of winning when you don’t have aces. An effective mixed strategy can keep your opponent guessing and potentially increase fold equity on future streets.

Mixed Responses

So what does a well-balanced strategy look like? An efficient response would fulfill the following objectives:

1. You don’t reraise every time you have aces
2. You don’t always have aces when you reraise
3. The times you choose to re-raise your average equity position is greater than the times you don’t
4. Selection of reraises can make better hands fold at some point in the hand
5. You do not fold on third street at too high of a frequency to be exploited

When having aces, we should be reraising most of the time. Certainly you should do so when all of your cards are live and/or you have a live two flush to go along with your hand. A hand such as (ASpade Suit 5Spade Suit) AClub Suit with live cards is definitely a hand you want to come over the top with since it can possibly make deceptively big hands such as a flush or a wheel.

Conversely, a good candidate to flat is a holding such as (AClub Suit 7Heart Suit) ADiamond Suit with an ace and/or seven out. These examples demonstrate the tenet of choosing to reraise when your equity position is greater, and just calling with more limited potential. And having some aces in our flatting range is important because it prevents our opponent from indiscriminately barreling future streets when we just call.

When we don’t have aces, but instead have a buried pair higher than the up card of our opponent, we should also do a good amount of reraising. Of course, we should be more apt to put the extra money in the pot with a pair of kings or queens in the hole (especially with a two/flush) than with nines or tens.

We should mostly be flatting the times we have a wired pair that is smaller than your opponent’s up card, although there are exceptions. For example, when having a suited wheel card holding such as (5Heart Suit 5Club Suit) AClub Suit we can put in the extra action and see if our opponent can take the heat with a pair of sevens.

Having more possibilities is important because it’s easier to keep firing on future streets when picking up an additional draw. Our opponent has to consider laying down an unimproved pair of sevens on fifth street. But if he does tend to get obstinate, he will often be paying off too much against bigger pairs which constitute a large portion of our three-betting range.

We can also reraise with a three flush when all of our flush and pair cards are quite live, and just call when that is not the case. Once again, we are putting in more money when the odds are more in our favor. In addition, by playing in this manner you can show up with flushes no matter how you played third street.

We should also sometimes three-bet other hands such as (KHeart Suit 10Club Suit)AClub Suit when getting reraised by a medium card such as an eight. A holding such as this has much potential to improve one way or another where we can confidently continue our aggression and put pressure on medium pairs.

With our weaker holdings and mainly pure steals we are allowed to fold, especially in tighter games against straight-forward opponents. Some live players will not reraise an ace up card unless they actually have aces in the hole (they will slow-play rollups), or when they are really going after it they may have a holding such as (AHeart Suit JSpade Suit)JClub Suit.

When folding they will often show you the ace and say, “I knew you didn’t have it.” Don’t put money in bad trying to play sheriff against tight players.

Assuming we are playing against a more aggressive player we must defend a little more often or else we risk getting exploited. Any three over cards to a particular up card is a clear continue, as are many hands with two over cards accompanied with some flush and/or straight potential.

When you have a holding such as (9Heart Suit 8Heart Suit) AClub Suit against a queen showing, your situation is quite marginal. A fold is not obscene; however, if your cards are live you may just have enough to continue. Any pair on fourth street will generally give you a through ticket to chase all of the way and failing that any heart, seven, or ten will provide you with some additional equity as well. We might even get some free cards along the way since our opponent has to be somewhat concerned that we may have aces.

These principles also apply when you have the biggest card on board that is not an ace, for example, when we complete with a jack showing and get reraised by an eight. The difference, however, is that our three-betting frequency should be lower with both split pairs of jacks and other holdings.

The main reason for this is that our opponent has a higher probability of having the best hand, and has more potential outs to beat us when he doesn’t. That said, a mixed strategy still seems optimal. We often do have the best hand and it’s usually best to just take the immediate value and force our opponent to put more money in when he is weak.

The struggle for the antes is a key battle to win in Seven Card Stud, and thus beneficial to make our opponents realize that trying to keep us in line will often end up becoming a costly proposition. ♠

Kevin Haney is a former actuary but left the corporate job to focus on his passions for poker and fitness. The certified personal trainer owned a gym in New Jersey, but has since moved to Las Vegas. He started playing the game back in 2003, and particularly enjoys taking new players interested in mixed games under his wing and quickly making them proficient in all variants. Learn more or just say hello with an email to haneyk612@gmail.com.