All poker games have forced bets at the beginning of the hand to increase action. This was also the case in PokerQQ where the format was basic but involved the same tactics anyway. If there were no forced bets at all, the correct strategy would be to just wait and play only the nuts. This would make for a very boring game of poker. While the presence of these initial bets like blinds and antes forces the action, it also creates an opportunities to steal dead money on the first betting street. In seven stud poker, this happens when it folds to you on third street and you have a chance to steal the antes and the bring-in, another forced bet specific to stud games. Here we are going to look at what you should be thinking about when stealing the antes so you can increase the money you make at the table during your seven stud games.
The most important thing above all else when considering stealing in stud is the betting structure. Unlike hold’em and Omaha games where the blinds remain constant, in stud games there are antes and bring-in values of various sizes. The larger the ante and bring-in compared to the size of the small bet, the more likely you should be to steal. An eight-handed $10/20 seven stud game with a bring-in of $5 will play very differently if the antes are $1 than if the antes are $2. If the antes are less than 10% of the size of the small bet, then this is generally a sign that you should play really tight. If the antes are more than 20% of the size of the small bet, then this almost always means you should loosen up and steal the antes and bring-in much more often. If the antes are between 10% and 20%, then it’s more situational.
In hold’em and Omaha games, when you get short-handed that usually means you should be stealing the same amount, if not more often. This makes sense in those games where the amount of the dead money stays the same, but in seven stud the exact opposite applies. If it folds to you with two people left to act in an 8-handed seven stud game, there will be a lot more dead money in the pot than if it folds to you with two people left in a 4-handed seven stud game. This is very anti-intuitive for players switching over from the very popular no-limit hold’em poker format, and is worth keeping in mind.
Finally, remember that you want to leave yourself some chance to win the hand if your ante steal happens to get called. If you’re stealing with three random high cards, it’s much better for two of them to be of the same suit than for all three of them to be different suits. Similarly, it’s much better to steal with something like a pair of Threes with an Ace kicker than three unpaired cards.
Keep these principles in mind when you’re considering stealing the antes in stud games since they are the sources of profit in steal situations.