Mixed Game Poker Strategy: The Importance of Fourth Street in Stud Hi-Lo
Posted at 10:26 2011-03-17
One reason that I like to play Stud Hi-Lo is due to the simple fact that most people have absolutely no clue as to how to play the game. They regularly make mistakes that puts chips at risk and when their luck is not holding, it winds up costing them money. Often I am asked what is the one tip I can give you to improve your Stud Hi-Lo game. Simply put, if you want to be a consistent winner in Stud Hi-Lo, you need to learn to fold on fourth street.
The Importance of Fourth Street
Fourth street is the most important card in Stud Hi-Lo due to the fact that it is a split pot game. You are in most cases going to chop the pot and fourth street is the key moment when you need to make the decision to play the hand or get out. I like to look at it as 33% vs 67%. If you are starting with a potential scoop hand on third street, in most cases you will need to catch two cards to make your hand. When you catch a card on fourth street that improves your hand, you are now needing to catch just one card with three streets left to do so. That equates to 33.34% of your remaining hand. If you do not catch, you now have to catch two out of three cards, which means you have to catch good 67% of the time when you don't improve on fourth street.
Typical Stud high players will play a draw to fifth street. That is a monumental disaster in Stud Hi-Lo as if you do not improve on fourth or fifth, you must catch perfect for the remaining two streets to make your hand. Feeling lucky?
Added Value of Fourth Street
When you start with a three card scooper and then catch on fourth street, most of the time your opponent will be on notice that you now have a great draw and will likely stay in the hand until the river. Should multiple players be involved in the hand, this is a good time to knock out weaker draws with a bet. If you then catch good on fifth street, you will be in the drivers seat of the hand. Many times you will find your opponent will check to you as they are now in defense mode.
Heads-up Fourth Street Considerations
When you make it to fourth street in a heads-up pot, the first consideration is whether or not you can scoop the pot. If you do not have a draw to scoop the pot, you may want to consider getting out. Sometimes a player will catch a weak four card low like 2-3-8-7 and continue in a hand just due to the fact they have a low, especially if they are against someone that looks to be drawing or has hit a high hand.
The problem with this type of thinking is that you are potentially putting in good money chasing just half of the pot. If you are playing with limits of $10 - $20 and catch a weak low on fourth street against a high hand, you will need to likely put in an additional $70 by the river to split a pot that at fourth street contains the ante's and maybe $20. If you break the pot down, assuming a completion on third and one bet to the river, the pot before ante's is $160. Chopping that gives you back the $80 bet during the hand. The antes are $16, of which $2 was your contribution. Chopping the antes gives you $8. Subtract your contribution, and a non-scooping hand will force you to put up $82 total to win $6. Sounds like you need to pick a better spot.
As you can see, your decision to play past fourth street will have a huge impact on your results in Stud Hi-Lo. To keep things simple, if you do not improve on fourth, look for a reason to fold your hand. Otherwise, Stud Hi-Lo becomes a gambling game. Save the gambling for the blackjack tables.
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