HORSE is a mixture of five games. Stud is a game that tends to be favored by the older generation. It was the game to play in the seventies and eighties, especially on the East Coast.

S is for Stud

Stud is a game of deduction with a lot of information to use in the deduction. Unlike Hold’em and other flop games there is known information that is not readily visible later in the game: folded cards. These folded cards might seem unimportant at the time, but later can become important when someone starts developing a flush draw or some other hand. Remembering the folded cards really separates the veteran from the novice.

In most games, the ante structure is very small compared to the bets. Because of this, being very selective with starting hand criteria will turn a profit. Rolled up trips as your first three cards are the pocket Aces of Stud, but they are far rarer. Three flushes, three straights, premium pairs with good kickers are the basic starting requirements. Ashley Adams has a great primer on stud for hold’em players. In this video he explains how to play these hands: aggressively.  Remember that this is a game of live cards. Be sure to avoid the trap of two pair with two low pairs. This is a trap hand that is much like ignoring your kicker in hold’em.

This good start on third street puts you in a good position for fourth street. Remember that your opponents are far more likely to make calling errors rather than folding errors so you should focus on getting value with your premium holdings. In most games they are rarely betting incorrectly because they tend to play too passively. In the pictured hand from Adams upcoming 4th street video, we see that we raised with our premium pair on 3rd street.  When a paired door card bets into the third street raiser, normally our pair of Aces would be a trivial fold. However, notice that there is a Seven in our hand. This reduces that chance that Villain made trips so we should consider a raise because it is far more likely now that this is shenanigans by the open pair. If we have a really good memory and know that a seven was folded earlier, we could make a similar deduction.

Stud 4thStreet

In much the same way if fourth street looked like this and the Queens bet into us we are most likely against Queens up (two pair) or trip queens. We are rarely ahead in this situation and should just fold to paired door cards that get aggressive.

Stud 4thStreetqq

If instead you have a draw like a flush draw, and fourth street brings you the fourth card you were looking for, you will likely call all the way to the river with this huge draw. Because the betting structure is limit, you are almost always right to call down unless the aggressor’s board is particularly frightening.

Sometimes fourth street will bring a change of direction. You might have started with a straight draw and backdoor flush draw, only to find that you now have a pair plus a three flush and a three straight. This kind of good fortune will also merit going to fifth street with this pair plus draw hand. Depending on the boards that other people are showing this might be played aggressively if your hand is more of a value hand because of the pair, or more passively because most of the equity comes from getting to see cards cheaply with your draw.

Stud is a great game and will often draw a different player into the mix game where they will suffer through the flop games so they can play stud. Beware that stud players sometimes feel like they have an advantage and “deserve” to win in “their game” so will play too many hands in this part of the rotation.  Stay tight and aggressive and you should do just fine.