If poker is America’s holy game, then seven-card and Texas hold’em are the prayers of choice for most parishioners. In spite of what you might read about Omaha high-low split being the “…game of the future,” stud and hold’em are still played by more people, in more locales, than any other forms of poker.

 

Once you enter a cardroom, “What game do I play,” is your most important decision. When you’re just starting out, choose one you’re familiar and comfortable with. If you’ve played a lot of stud in your regular home games, but not much hold’em or Omaha, put your initials up for a stud game. You will find a lot of recreational players in these games, particularly those with lower betting limits. The games are good, and you’ll find some players who are always willing to play with poor starting cards and continue to draw and pray, regardless of what they hold. And unlike you, they will not be students of the game.

 

In a $10-$20 7-card stud game (which I’ll use as an example, though you should not start out in a game this big) each player antes $1 and the low board card brings it in for $3. This bring-in is simply a forced bet, to stimulate action. Three raises are usually allowed on each round of betting. Each player can call the $3 bring-in, or raise the pot to $10. On each succeeding round of action, the high board initiates the action, with an option of checking or betting. Betting limits are $10 until the fifth card is dealt (fifth street, in poker parlance) at which point all bets and raises are in $20 increments. (But if there’s an open pair on fourth street any player has the option to bet $20 on …