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Stud: Reraising An Ace On Third Street

by Kevin Haney |  Published: Jan 24, 2024

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The ace is the premium steal card in Stud High and most players will not miss many opportunities to attack the antes with it. It is therefore our job to slow our opponents down, at least to a certain degree.

Consider an eight-handed, high-ante game where the action folds to someone showing the ADiamond Suit with only a 7Spade Suit and the deuce bring-in left to act. In this situation, even my mother (who has never played Stud but has some card sense) will be open-completing a ton of hands, if not all of them.

If we are the player with the 7Spade Suit, listed below are several holdings (along with how often we are dealt them), that we should consider defending with.

Three-Card Hand Dealt
Pair in Hole 5.9%
Pair 7s 11.7%
Spade Flush Draw 5.6%
7-8-9 1.3%
6-7-8 1.3%
5-6-7 1.3%
Total 27.1%

We don’t have to be defending all of those all of the time. For example, if our holding is marginal and key cards that we need are not very live, we should probably fold. In other words, we shouldn’t be anxious to play wired threes if another three is out, or a spade flush draw with three or more of our suit on board. When the ace does have a strong hand, it’s important to have a decent chance of improving.

It may seem as if we are not defending quite enough, however, the bring-in also shoulders some of the responsibility to keep the ace relatively honest. Plus, the ace is the premium card in the game and the player wielding it is “entitled” to a theoretical profit in this particular spot.

Our goal is to simply limit this profit to a manageable level. If we go overboard in our re-steal attempts, we will likely be harming ourselves more than our opponent.

Since our range is mostly pair-heavy we should generally look to defend by reraising any hand that we choose to play. In addition, it’s possible that our aggressive action will cause the bring-in to fold a slightly better hand which is a huge win when the ace is weak. And getting the ace to fold anything is a good result, even if it means he had two napkins in the hole.

Below are some “hot/cold” equities versus an ace that has two random cards in the hole.

Three-Card Hand Equity
(3Diamond Suit 7Club Suit) 7Spade Suit 58%
(9Diamond Suit 8Diamond Suit) 7Spade Suit 51%
(XSpade Suit XSpade Suit) 7Spade Suit 52%

As you can see we are doing relatively well, but will still overall be taking slightly the worst of it when reraising as it allows the ace to come over the top with the better hands. However, it’s still worth it as it punishes him when he is weak, it will often get the pot heads-up, and we are doing just fine considering the dead money that is in the pot.

When we do bump into a pair of aces, we have around 34% equity when holding (3Diamond Suit 7Club Suit) 7Spade Suit. Not ideal, but if your cards are completely live you will actually fare better than this. And one may be pleasantly surprised to learn we have approximately 59% equity against (10Club Suit 8Diamond Suit) ADiamond Suit and are a pure 50% coin flip against a powerful draw such as (10Diamond Suit 8Diamond Suit) ADiamond Suit.

“Hot/cold” equity is not all there is to poker and a good player will put a lot of pressure on you with a hand such as (10Diamond Suit 8Diamond Suit) ADiamond Suit which may cause you to fold unimproved sevens before showdown. However, against a more passive player you will often realize your equity. And against anyone you will frequently be able to do so when you improve, which is why it’s important that your hand be live when putting in the action on third street to begin with.

One other possible re-steal hand you can play is when you hold an ace in the hole and reraise your opponent due to the blocker effect. For example, when you hold (ASpade Suit 4Club Suit) 9Heart Suit and re-raise the ADiamond Suit. The gameplan here is to try and win the pot immediately or by fifth street through sheer aggression.

This is a play that I am not particularly a fan of for the following reasons:

There’s no good plan B as your prospects of making a decent hand are limited.

While the probability that your opponent has aces is reduced, if he does have them (or a wired pair better than nines) you will often be reraised and be forced to fold immediately.

Your opponent may also reraise with their drawing hands, but you don’t know what they have and your hand ends up in the muck.

Even when he has very little, all he needs to do is make one small pair to generally give him a through ticket to the river with his ace kicker.

If your opponent’s flatting range includes aces you are often sending bets into a black hole never to return.

Perhaps if your door card was higher and you are up against the right type of player this can be a good play, however, in stud it can seem hard enough to win even when starting out with a legitimate hand.

If your aggression in the right spots can induce your opponent to sometimes open-fold with an ace showing in the future when he might have otherwise tried to steal, you have achieved a great deal. This will in turn open up more stealing opportunities for you against the bring-in, who usually has nothing and just wants to get to the next hand.

Winning the struggle for the antes is one of, if not the most important battle to win in stud and timely aggressive re-steals against a likely theft in progress is the way to achieve this desired result. ♠

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.