7 card stud hi/lo is a difficult game to learn as its strategy is quite complex. When played correctly, however, it has a fairly low variance. The simple fact that so many pots are split between the high and low hand makes it unlikely that you’ll encounter as large of a downswing that you find in other limit games, including Seven Card Stud. Being able to see your opponents’ upcards is also advantageous for a good player. This helps determine relative hand strength and whether your own cards are “dead” or “live.”
Winning players also exercise more control preflop and only enter pots with hands that have a chance of scooping the whole pot. Especially at the lower stakes, you will encounter many weak players who call down just drawing to a low hand, which costs them money in the long run. Passively drawing to only half of the pot is a losing proposition, but you see countless players doing just that, which greatly increases your potential winnings if you know how to take advantage. Good players know that even a backdoor flush or straight add significant value to your hand since the times you end up scooping the pot are incredibly profitable. If conditions don’t look favorable, they simply fold early in the hand, and rarely call down without an edge. These factors combine to make 7 card stud hi/lo lower variance for a skilled player. You will encounter some swings, of course, so don’t think that there is no risk involved, but you will be able to safely play with a smaller bankroll. A successful player can expect a solid winrate over the long run, especially at the lower stakes where you will find a lot of passive, weaker players.
7 card stud hi/lo tables will be much more active at the largest poker sites. If you are playing at a smaller site or network, there likely won’t always be a game at your level. Take a look at some of our suggested online poker rooms below.
Safe Bankroll for 7 Card Stud Hi/Lo
Due to its relatively lower variance, you can play 7 card stud hi/lo with 250 big bets in your bankroll. In order to play a $2/$4 game, for example, you should have at least $1000. More conservative or inexperienced players might want to start with a slightly larger bankroll than this until they build up more experience at their level.
Bankroll Required to Move Up in 7 Card Stud Hi/Lo
If your bankroll reaches 250 big bets at the next higher level, you can safely move up. If you are a winning player and want to take a shot with 200 big bets, you can try your luck as long as you are prepared to move down if you lose couple sessions. Downswings still do happen in 7 card stud hi/lo, so be prepared. You will also encounter a higher skill level as you move up, so be sure you are consistently beating your current level and are not just the beneficiary of a few lucky sessions. The larger your sample size, the more confident you can be of your ability to move up a level.
Bankroll Required to Move Down in 7 Card Stud Hi/Lo
It is time to move down a level if your bankroll drops to 250 big bets at the next lower limit. A $2/$4 player should drop to $1/$2 if he finds himself with $500. You shouldn’t deviate from this very much unless you are playing at the lower stakes and you are confident you can beat your current level. In this case you can play a little bit longer in hopes that your luck will turn around. You should never go below 200 big bets, however, because a couple losing sessions with that small of a bankroll would put you in serious danger.
When to Cash Out Bankroll Earnings
It’s fair game to cash out any amount over 250 big bets at your current level, which leaves you with the recommended bankroll. Since the game has a lower variance, though, you can go a bit below this guideline if you need to. Just be aware that if you run into a losing period that you will need to drop down a level in order to build your bankroll back up.
All in all, 7 card stud hi/lo is an exciting game that doesn’t require a huge bankroll to play. The split pot nature makes it lower variance than many other limit games, but a solid player can still expect to earn very good winnings over time.