Stud Hi/Lo: Miscellaneous Thoughts

“His only fault is that he has no fault.” – Pliny the Younger

In this, the penultimate article of this series, we’ll examine some important topics that have been either glossed over or ignored (so far): added outs, Razz, minimizing opponents when you hold a high hand, and reading the opposition. By far, the most important of these concepts is that of added outs.

Added Outs

Suppose you hold (A2)378, and you’re up against an opponent who is clearly going high-his board is KKJ. There’s not much chance of you winning high. You need some sort of runner-runner (most likely a wheel) and that your opponent doesn’t make a full house. Still, you have a chance of making high and your opponent has no chance of making low. The worst you can do is split the pot while that’s the best that your opponent can do.

That hand is an obvious case of you holding a hand that can’t be beaten for half the pot, and you’re free-rolling for the entire pot. Let’s change the starting hand to (A2)6. Assume that the 2 brings it in, the 4 calls, the K completes, and the 7 calls. The other players fold (upcards: 9, J, and Q). Do you recognize your added out on this hand?

Your hand isn’t that great. You have a serviceable low draw. However, you’re ahead of the 7 for low. What might happen if you were to raise? The bring-in could, of course, have a real hand; the odds, though, are that he doesn’t, and that he’ll fold. The 4 only called the bring-in and didn’t complete. Sometimes that’s meaningless; other times, it’s meaningful. Still, a raise could isolate you against the 7 and the K. Have you noticed the added outs yet?

There are actually two added outs on this hand. First, you could end up with position on the hand. In stud, unlike hold’em, position varies on each betting round; the high hand (on board) acts first (except for third street). If you raise and knock out the 2 and the 4, you will likely be last to act (the K is on your left). This is a huge advantage. Second, you hold an ace. In high-low games, aces are worth their weight in gold. You can’t make a nut low without one. Additionally, if you pair your ace you might win high. Sometimes in a battle of low hands an ace-high will win the high hand.

Look for added outs when you’re playing stud high/low. Be more inclined to play a hand (or raise) when you have added outs. Note the opposite impact. Should you have a hand lacking added outs, or where key cards (for you) have been folded, be more inclined to check (or fold).


Stud high/low is not Razz. Razz is stud played for low only (a perfect low remains A2345, with straights and flushes not counting against you). Many, many stud high/low players will play good Razz starting hands, especially at the low limits. Lets look at a couple of examples.

Do you think that either of these two hands is a good starting hand: (24)8 or (23)8? The first hand looks reasonable. You have a flush draw to go with your three low cards. Did I mention that there are five other clubs as up cards? Now what do you think of that hand?

Hopefully, not much. With five clubs gone, there are only five remaining to make your flush. The value of being three-suited has gone out the window. 842 by itself is not a good starting hand for stud high/low-it can only rarely scoop. The second hand, of course, is not a good hand for the same reason.

Remember the cardinal rule for high/low games: play hands that can scoop, and fold most of your other starting hands. In Razz, both of the above hands could be playable. That’s just not the case in stud high/low.

Minimizing the Opposition

When You Hold a High Hand

When you hold a good, high starting hand, such as (KK)J, should you try to limit your opposition or not? Does it matter if you’re playing against players going for high or for low?

In general, with high hands you want to limit the opposition. The hand above cannot win low. If you’re up against five opponents, you’re almost certainly going for half the pot. Winning halves of pots is not the way to make money in any high/low game. Thus, it should be clear that you want to limit the number of opponents you face. That means you need to bet and raise as much as possible.

However, there are many games (especially at low limts) where raising just increases the pot size and does not limit the field. In such occurrences, the value of high-only hands decreases because it’s much harder to scoop with them and the high hands are vulnerable to a low starting hand making a high (straight, flush, etc.). If I’m in a game and facing six limpers who won’t fold to a raise, I’m much less likely to raise with a high pair (and, in fact, will consider folding it) because I’ll probably have to improve to win high and I have little (if any) chance to win low.

Reading the Opposition

I’m bringing this topic up again because it’s so important. When you’re out of a hand, attempt to determine what the other players are holding. Analyze their betting patterns. You’ll learn how and why your opponents act. Yes, you will face maniacs who have no rhyme or reason for their plays; however, most of your opponents will have reasons (albeit for some they will be flawed) for what they are doing.

Take the Game Seriously

If you want to win while playing poker, you must have desire to do so. You must want to learn. You must think about what your opponents are doing and why they’re doing it. You must believe in your own actions. Everyone makes mistakes. Everyone has faults. Ruthlessly look at your own game and determine areas that need improvement. Practice at those areas. There’s nothing wrong with stepping down in limits to practice. In fact, when I’m trying out new ideas I will play in very low limit games. This limits the downside when I’m learning something new (and not executing it correctly). Of course the opposition won’t be as good as it is at higher limits. But the principles involved are the same, and I can usually factor in the skill level.

In the last lesson of this series, we’ll examine stud high/low tournaments. Unlike no-limit hold’em tournaments, the fields aren’t so huge that the luck factor is ridiculously high.


In all problems you’re playing in a $10/$20 stud high/low game with a $1 ante and a $3 bring-in. These problems look at topics covered not just today, but in all of the lessons to date.

  1. Rank these starting hands from best to worst. (a) (24)Q; (b) (AA)A; (c) (A2)3; (d) (23)4.
  2. You have the bring-in with (85)2. The next player completes the bet with the A. Everyone else calls with the following up-cards: K, 2, 2, 8, 5, and 5. Should you (a) fold, (b) call, or (c) raise to $20?
  3. You started this hand rolled-up, with (KK)K, and have caught the 3, 9, and 7. You are left with one opponent. His board reads 6543. You have bet every street, and he has called in tempo. This is your first hand at the casino, so you have no information about your opponent. You elect to bet on sixth street. Your opponent raises to $40 in tempo. What do you do? Do you (a) fold, (b) call, or (c) raise to $60?
  4. Assume the same hand as in problem three except that you check on sixth street. Your opponent bets $20. Do you (a) fold, (b) call, or (c) raise to $40?
  5. You had the bring-in with (85)2. Four players called, with up-cards of 3, Q, 8, and 6. The other up-cards were the J, J, and J. On fourth street you catch the A. The 3 catches the 7, the Q gets the 3, the 8 picks up the K, and the 6 gets the 6. The pair of sixes bets $10. Do you (a) fold, (b) call, or (c) raise to $20?
  6. Assume the same hand as in problem 5 except that the pair of sixes checks. Do you (a) check or (b) bet $10?
  7. Assume the same hands as in problem 5. You called the bet, and everyone called but the K8. On fifth street you now have (85)2A7. Your opponents show these boards: 3710, Q3J, and 662. The pair of sixes bets $20. Do you (a) fold, (b) call, or (c) raise to $40?
  8. Assume the same hand as in problem 7 except that the pair of sixes checks. Do you (a) check, or (b) bet $20?
  9. Assume the same hands as in problem 7. You raised, the T73 folded, but your other two opponents called. Here are the hands on sixth street: You: (85)2A710. Your opponents show these boards: Q3J9, and 6628. The pair of sixes checks. Do you (a) check or (b) bet $20?
  10. Assume the same hand as in problem 9. You bet, and both of your opponents called. On seventh street you get the 4. The pair of sixes bets $20. Do you (a) fold, (b) call, or (c) raise to $40?




ANSWERS: 1) From best to worst, D-C-B-A; It’s pretty clear that (a) is a trash hand. Sure, it’s nice to be rolled-up, as in problem (b), but it’s hard to win low when you’re rolled-up. Both (c) and (d) feature three to a wheel. (c) has an ace, but (d) has three to a wheel and three to a flush. That hand has the best starting potential of any in stud high/low. 2) A; You have great pot odds. However, why are your opponents calling? Isn’t it likely that they have three to a low also (except for the K)? And with two 2s, two 5s, and one 8 out, your chances of pairing up is slim. Save the $7. 3) B; This is about as ugly as it can get when you’re rolled-up. However, consider what your opponent started with. If he had 567, or 678, you will need to catch one of your ten outs to make a full house or quads. (He could also have started with a worse three to a low and you would be in the same situation.) There will also be times when he started with 456 and has two pair and you’re actually ahead! No matter, the pot is far too large to fold and you have enough outs to see seventh street. The board is so dangerous that I would have check-called (see below). 4) B; See answer to Q3. The pot is too large too fold. 5) B; It’s fairly close between a raise and a call. Yes, your starting hand was nothing special; however, you now have three to a wheel and a four-low. Only the 73 can be ahead of you for low. 6) B; I’m aggressive by nature. On this hand, perhaps a bet will get the 73 to fold. After all, as the bring-in I can have an excellent starting hand. 7) C; You have a made low and are leading for the low. You have a backdoor flush draw. You want money to be put into the pot. 8) B; Betting is mandatory in this situation. 9) B; You have a made low and a flush draw. For all your opponents know, you have a made flush. Bet. 10) B; Why did the pair of sixes bet? He improved somehow. He could have a very good low or he has a full house. Obviously, you hope he has made a full house. Given that you want your other opponent to call (he can’t win low), I would call here.