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A common mistake made by newcomers to 7 Card Stud is that they fall in love with their hand. I think you can see where I'm going with this. It has to do with players zeroing in only on the full hand they can see - their own. Think about that statement for a second and figure out whether you are guilty or not.

You're playing at a $1/$3 game (it could be any amount table, but let's use this example) and you're dealt a pair of Jacks down with a 6 up. You look around the table and only one hand has a power card showing. Some guy has an Ace up. On the next deal you get an unsuited 7 and still nobody pairs. The ace bets and all players call around to you. Do you raise or call?

With a 6 and 7 (unsuited) showing, you have one single move and that's to call. If you raise, you broadcast your hand to the world, you let on that you have something hidden. There is no reason for you to blow your cover with only four cards dealt. But I see people raise that hand over and over again.

Why? If someone has nothing, they'll immediately drop. If someone also has a hidden pair (maybe higher than your Jacks), a re-raise could occur. This will force you to invest more money into a hand that is barely half completed. With the drops of those with nothing, the value of the pot just diminished. You need to pay extra money, with the chance that you're already behind in the hand.

When I explain this to novices, their first remark is that you don't want someone to stay in and draw out on you. Valid reasoning, but with four cards dealt, a pair of Jacks is not like having a lock on that hand. You still need to improve to have a solid shot at that particular hand.

When I play and see a raise come from someone who merely shows an unsuited 6 and 7 on the board, you can be sure a re-raise will come from either me or some other veteran at the table. We're looking for a re-action on the part of the first bumper. Usually the novice will show hesitancy in calling and looks around the table for signs of who looks strong.

This hesitancy, or any kind of tell-tale sign, could alert the veteran that the novice is raising on the come or is not as strong as indicated by the early raise. At best, the novice could have trips, and if that's the case, an immediate re-raise would now come and the vet would have reason to drop and figure it was worth the re-raise to get a handle on how strong the original raiser was.

If the novice (first raiser), does not immediately come back with a re-raise, then everyone at the table knows that there are only two options left: an open straight or a high pair, which was the case in this example. This is just a move on the part of experienced players, to try and flush out a person, making an early raise, with no power hand showing on the board, such as a high pair or two Power Cards to a Royal.

So, let's get things straight here: I'm warning you now - giving any hint of your hand to people that you're not sure are pros, even sitting in a low stakes game, is a big mistake. The example I gave you is a snap to read because of the two cards that were showing on board (unsuited 6 and 7), but there are many combinations of cards that give a good player a pretty good idea of what the player has in the hole, based on how he/she plays those cards.

I admit having a hidden pair of Jacks is a great start but it won't be a great hand if and when a third one finds its way into the mix. Until then, don't think you've discovered the fountain of youth, just because you're starting off on a good note. There are seven cards per hand for up to six other players and they too will be drawing high pairs and even stronger cards.

Raising early in the game, with hidden power, just swings the concentration of the other players in your direction. I would've just called that 4th street bet. This way, the others are only judging my hand on the unsuited 6 and 7 that they can see. If you improve in the next card or two, there will be plenty of time to build up that pot. But it's better to keep a low profile for the first 4-5 cards and get a true feeling of how all of the others are handling their hands.

Some of you may claim: "Hey, we're talking about a small $1/$3 game, not a multi-zillion dollar pot". Well, my friends, you'd be surprised to find out how many great players, looking for a nice pay-day, go and play in these low limit games, hoping to find novices making mistakes that will allow the "pro" to cash in, hand after hand. We're talking about money here...and when money is concerned, people turn into different species. When money is involved, people will do crazy things. And in a poker game, there are pros who know every trick in the book, so don't discount the value of the table. Money is money and it's a no holds barred matter in any poker game. So watch out!

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