Stud: Fourth Street

“Each success only buys an admission ticket to a more difficult problem.” – Henry Kissinger

On fourth street a stud hand begins to clarify itself. If you’ve started with a strong hand and you’ve improved, you’re almost certainly in for the long run. On the other hand, if you started with trash (say you had the bring-in) and you haven’t improved, you are almost certain to fold.

Unimproved Trash

You had the bring-in with (7Q)2, and on fourth street picked up the 3 to give you a three-flush. Three other players saw fourth street; they now show 8J, K9, and 710. The K9 bets and you’re next to act. What should you do?

Fold. Who knows what you’re up against – certainly, someone can beat your pair of deuces. Perhaps the K9 is also going for a spade draw. It doesn’t matter – you’re trailing on the hand. Even if you make two pair you are likely going to be trailing. Save your money for a better hand.

Improved Trash

Assume you had the same hand, but instead of catching the 3 you caught the Q giving you a pair of Queens. Again, the K9 bets. Should you call or raise?

This is a much different situation. Your pair of Queens could be the best hand (if you are still in the hand on fourth street no one completed the action). No hand looks that threatening – I would raise and hope to knock out some of the draws. You will represent your actual hand. Of course, should the K9 have a pair of Kings you’ll be trailing, but I think it’s a worthwhile play.

Now, what if you catch the 7 on fourth street to give you a pair of sevens? Should you continue with the hand?

I probably would fold. You’re probably trailing, and you have to ask yourself what the 710 has. If he also has a pair of sevens you’re in a bad situation. Calling isn’t that bad of a play but you still need to catch another high pair to win the pot. If you caught another deuce it’s a clear fold.

Strong Hands

Several different things can happen to your strong hands on fourth street. Your hand can improve, your draw(s) can improve, your draws may not catch on fourth street, and your hand could get weaker. We’ll look at all of these cases.

1. A Strong Hand that Improves

Assume you started with (A7)A, your cards are live, and you’re up against three opponents: K, 2, J. On third street the 2 had the bring-in, you completed the bet, with the other players calling. On fourth street you catch the 7, the K gets the 8, the 2 catches the 9 and the J catches the 3. What should you do?

Your two pair is probably the best hand. (Yes, someone can be rolled up; when that happens you’re going to lose a lot of chips unless you get a good read on that player.) In low limit poker you should bet your good hands and check (or fold) your weak hands most of the time. Bet – why let the drawers catch up?

2. A Strong Hand That Doesn’t Improve.

Assume the same hands and that the third street action is the same. However, while your opponents catch the same cards you didn’t make two pair; instead, you caught the 4. What should you do? Your pair of aces is still likely the best hand. Bet.

However, assume that the J catches the J instead of the 3. Your lone pair of aces may now be trailing three Jacks. An important point to remember is that when an opponent pairs his door card (the up-card on third street), his most likely hand is three of a kind! Be wary.

An Interlude: The Double Bet on Fourth Street

On fourth street if a pair is showing a player may bet at either the lower betting level or the higher betting level. Assume you’re playing $5/$10 limit 7 card stud and there’s an open pair. That player can check, bet $5 or bet $10. If he bets the lower limit you can raise either the lower limit or the higher limit. So the next player can make it $10 or $15. Once there is a bet at the higher betting limits all other raises must be at the higher limit. Almost all of the time when an open pair is showing I will bet (or raise) the higher limit.

Returning to the example hand, the pair of Jacks might have been going after a flush draw and caught a pair. If that’s the case you’re ahead on the hand. Given that if you make two pair you’re likely to be a winner you should probably raise to limit the field. Even if everyone catches well and you don’t I’d probably continue to fifth street with your pair of Aces – it’s too good of a hand (although I’d probably just call the bet(s)).

3. Three Flushes/Straights that Don’t Improve

Assume you started with (7K)10 and only one other diamond was out. Your three remaining opponents show the 8, A (he completed the bet) and the 10. You catch a brick, the 4, while the 8 picks up the 8, the A gets the J and the 10 picks up the J. The pair of 8’s bets the maximum, the AJ raises, the JT calls and it’s your turn to act. What do you do?

The very first advice I got playing poker was that if you have a three-flush or three-straight and you don’t improve on fourth street, fold. Its still good advice today.

4. A Four Flush

Suppose the hands and actions are the same as in (3) above except that you pick up the 4 instead of the 4. What a difference a card makes – you’re likely to stay for the entire hand (unless you believe someone’s made a higher flush, a full house, etc.). You’re probably going to be doing a bunch of calling so that the pot can be large when you make your flush.

5. Four to a Straight

As I mentioned in Lesson 4, I dislike straight draws in stud. However, assume you played (JQ)K and your opponents’ hands (and fourth street cards) are as in (3) above. Assume you pick up the 10. The betting is also the same as (3) above, so that you’re facing a maximum bet and raise when it’s your turn to act. What do you do?

There are no nines out; however, one Ace is out and it is likely that two are gone. Thus, you have six outs to make the straight. Even if you make the straight you can be beat (by a flush or full house). I would call with your hand – if you make the straight you will have deceptive value (a nine will not look like a straight). But I would be very wary. However, if, say, three nines were out it would be a clear fold. You would have at most four cards to make the straight (and probably just three). Given that the odds would not be with you, why continue with the hand?

Hopefully these examples have given you a flavor for fourth street. In the next lesson we’ll look at fifth street when we have to consider scary boards (both good and bad).


In this quiz we will look at some fourth street situations in seven-card stud high/low. Assume that you’re playing in a $10/$20 stud high/low game with a $1 ante and a $3 bring-in.

  1. You brought in the action with (45)3. To your disappointment, no one completed. On fourth street, the remaining hands are: (45)38, 3A, 99, 7Q, and 84. The pair of nines bets $10, the Q7 folds, and the 84 calls. Except for the cards you can see, all of your cards are live. Do you (a) fold, (b) call, or (c) raise to $20?
  2. Assume the same hand as in problem 1 except that on fourth street you brick, catching the K. Do you (a) fold, (b) call, or (c) raise to $20?
  3. Assume the same hand as in problem 1 except that your hole cards are the 6 and J. Do you (a) fold, (b) call, or (c) raise to $20?
  4. Assume the same hand as in problem 1 except that on fourth street you catch the A. Do you (a) fold, (b) call, or (c) raise to $20?
  5. On third street you called a completion bet. Now, on fourth street, your hand becomes (67)89; your opponents hold 23, K7, 44, and 2Q. The pair of fours (who made the completion bet) bets $10, the Q2 folding. Do you (a) fold, (b) call, or (c) raise to $20?
  6. Assume the same hand as in problem 5 except that instead of catching the 9, you catch the 5. Do you (a) fold, (b) call, or (c) raise to $20?
  7. Assume the same hand as in problem 5 except that instead of catching the 9, you catch the Q. Do you (a) fold, (b) call, or (c) raise to $20?
  8. On third street, you brought in the action with (97)2, with three players calling. On fourth street, the hands are: (97)2J, 65, 4Q, and 78. The Q4 checks, the 87 checks, you check, but the 65 bets $10. The Q4 folds and the 87 calls. Do you (a) fold, (b) call, or (c) raise to $20?
  9. Assume the same hand as in problem 8 except that you catch the 3 on fourth street. The betting remains the same. Do you (a) fold, (b) call, or (c) raise to $20?
  10. Assume the same hand as in problem 8 except that you catch the 9 on fourth street; again, the betting remains the same. Do you (a) fold, (b) call, or (c) raise to $20?





ANSWERS: 1) B; Enough players are in the hand to make continuing reasonable. Folding is also ok (you did not catch good, and others did; your chances of making high aren’t great). However, you can still scoop, so I’d stick around. 2) A; You bricked, and others didn’t. Fold. It really is that easy. 3) A; You have a trash hand. Folding is clear. 4) C; You are almost certainly leading for low, and have four cards to the wheel. Sure, there will be days when you will go brick-brick-brick, but you’re quite likely to get something out of this pot. 5) B; You bricked, in the sense that you did not catch a low card. However, you did make a four-straight and you still have a three-low. Additionally, only one of your opponents caught good. The danger is, though, that the 32 may raise. Still, I’m seeing fifth street with this hand. 6) B; If my four-low and four-straight were lower, I’d raise. Here, a call seems right. 7) A; I brick, I’m done. I’m trailing for both low and high-folding is very clear. 8) A; This was a trash hand, and I picked up a trash card to boot on fourth street. 9) A; Yes, the 3? was a good card to catch on fourth street. But your hand is still trailing for low and high. Indeed, you have no real draw for high. Folding is clear. 10) A; Yes, your pair of nines is likely leading for high. However, you have almost no chance for low. Folding is very clear with this one-way hand.