In my opinion, Seven Card Stud is the commonly played poker game that is the most difficult to master. The combination of the large number of cards that are revealed, the large number of betting rounds, and the multitude of distinct starting hands makes this game especially difficult. Despite this, Stud is probably the most commonly spread game in the world, familiar to both high stakes casino rooms and kitchen tables around the world.
The book starts with introductory remarks and then gets into the first section, play on 3rd street. The authors state that 3rd street play is especially important in Stud and they devote one fifth of the book to this very topic. A large variety of circumstances are covered here, including many topics that weren’t covered in previous editions. There are a lot of ideas discussed here, including many that I haven’t seen discussed in other places. This section has been greatly expanded in the 21st Century Edition from previous editions of this book.
Next the authors consider play on later streets. Play becomes a lot more automatic here than it is on third street, but there are a lot of exceptions. The authors cover these in part two. Part three covers some miscellaneous topics, including defending against the ante steal, playing pairs against possible draws, free cards, and other similar topics. Both of these sections are well considered and clearly written.
Parts four and five deal with playing in non-standard games, part four covering loose games, part five covering other situations, including spread limit and short handed games. The information on loose games is greatly expanded from earlier editions of the book and contains a lot of new information, although not too surprisingly, much of the ligaz11 strategy considerations are similar to those discussed in the chapters on loose games in Hold’em Poker for Advanced Players. I found the section on spread limit games to be a little brief for my tastes, although expanding on it sufficiently would have increased the length of the book significantly. This isn’t a complaint with the book, but folks with earlier editions who want more spread limit advice or folks who specifically want a lot of spread limit specific information will likely be disappointed with what they find here.
Part six includes information on other skills, including reading hands and psychology, and part seven includes questions and answers. I always greatly admire the questions and answers section in the Two Plus Two books I’ve read. The information they contain is quite good as a summary of the pertinent sections, and I’ve found that periodically going through these questions helps keep my game sharp. This is another good representative sample of the book’s most important issues. The book concludes with a few simulations of various Stud hand matchups and a glossary.
In my opinion, this book is far and away the single best source of Seven Card Stud information I’ve encountered. The material is well thought out, well organized, and easy to understand. This is especially true of the third street analysis which is not only the most in-depth coverage I’ve read, but also certainly the most logical. I would expect that the concepts in this book will help just about anyone who wants to improve their 7 Stud play.
Another issue the reader might be considering is whether it is worthwhile to upgrade to the 21st Century Edition from previous editions. The only other edition of this book that I still have is the 1994 3rd Edition. From this edition, the 21st Century Edition adds over 100 pages concentrating on 3rd street play, non-standard games, and an expanded questions and answers section. In my opinion, a lot of this new material is quite valuable and worth reading. Is it worth the additional purchase price? If one plays but doesn’t dominate middle to upper limit games and aren’t quite sure why, then I expect that reading this book will provide a significant positive return on the $30 investment. If one is already beating these games regularly, then it’s quite likely that one understands the new material already or it isn’t applicable, and passing on this book would be understandable. For myself, I believe it’s worth the price of the upgrade, even though I don’t play mid limit Stud that often. For those who have editions earlier than my 1994 edition, reasons to upgrade are probably even more compelling.
In my opinion, the best work available on Seven Card Stud is Seven Card Stud for Advanced Players. I believe one has to understand most of the concepts discussed in this book to be a winning player at any but the softest Stud games. I recommend it highly. Further, those that are playing mid limit or higher games will likely find it worth the price of admission to upgrade to the 21st Century Edition, which has a lot of new material, especially on 3rd street play and playing in non-standard games.