Stud 8 or Better is a game that is often misunderstood by new players. The object of the game is to scoop pots. However, many players get caught in the trap of playing too many hands in the hopes of splitting a pot. Let’s go over some things you should look for and some things to stay away from when playing Stud 8.
Going for the Scoop
When looking for hands to play in this game, you want a hand that gives you a solid chance to scoop. Three straight cards such as 2-3-4, 3-4-5, and 4-5-6 are among the best potential scooping hands. Three suited cards are also strong, especially if you have the ace.
Gapped and double gapped straight starters are solid starting hands. Gapped starters include hands such as 2-4-5, 3-5-6, 4-6-7. Double gapers include 2-4-6, 3-5-7, A-3-5, and 2-5-6, A-4-5, and 3-6-7.
Eight lows can be tricky to play and should be played sparingly while you are learning the game. Most of the time, an eight low will come up 2nd or even 3rd best when multiple lows go to showdown. As a result, you really want to avoid playing most eight low starting hands multi-way. Clearly, the exception to this would be three suited cards including the eight and 6-7-8. Even then, in many cases you will not be very comfortable unless you make a solid high hand.
One Way Hands
A one way hand is one that will normally only take half of the pot. Hands such as K-Q-J, big pairs with high kickers, three high suited cards and rolled up sets over eight are all hands that will only win high. Adversely, hands such as 2-3-8, 2-5-7, 2-6-8, 3-7-8 are one way hands.
Some players will take the stance of “there is not always a low” and will play a lot of high hands. If they can isolate the hands and play them heads-up, they will improve their odds, but playing high only hands in multi-way pots can lead to losing big pots if you are not careful.
Stronger players will tell you that if you are playing a one way hand, it had better be strong or the nuts. Also, they will want those pots to be multi-way. In the case of a one way low hand, if you play one heads-up, the best you can do is get your money back and maybe split some antes.
Pairs from nine to queen, three big cards, three big straight cards, and even three big flush cards can all be trap hands. From the start, you are only playing for half the pot at best and if your opponents improve their hands, you are many times a statistical dog unless you catch perfect. You want to play these hands very sparingly and very carefully if you do play them.
Remember that in Stud 8, you want to be scooping your share of pots. Look out for hands and situations that will give you the best options of taking the whole pot. In the cases where you must play a strong one way hand, make sure that it is in a multi-player pot in order to make money. Trap hands and one way hands that are not the nuts will cost you money over the long term if played too frequently. Stud 8 is a game that rewards patience and good hand selection. Practice both and you should come out a winner.