Super Stud 8 Strategy

How to Play Super Stud 8 Poker

Super Stud 8"All you paid was the looking price. Lessons are extra."
-- Lancey Howard in The Cincinnati Kid

Super Stud 8 is the same game as Stud High-Low with an eight-or better qualifier for low, except instead of being dealt three cards at the beginning, each player is dealt five, one up and four down. After the first round of betting, each player discards two of their down cards (never the face up card), then play proceeds as normal.

The two key results of this change in format are, first, anyone who plays a hand generally has something of coordinated value: three low cards, three suited cards, three of a kind, etc. Second, because everyone gets two extra cards to start, the game can only be played shorter-handed than normal stud games or you will run out of cards too often. Six-handed is most common but seven can be played with occasional reshuffling.

Super Stud 8 games have lots of action, but like Dramaha and Double Board Omaha, this is the opposite of how they should be played. The general rule of poker, especially High-Low poker is, that the more cards you get, the less hands you personally should play. However loose or tight you play regular Stud 8-or-Better, you should play Super Stud 8 tighter.

Hands like 6♢4♡2♠, a hand almost all players normally play in regular Stud 8, is garbage most of the time in Super Stud 8. (The obvious exceptions are when no one else has a low door card or the only other low card is an eight.) The reason is simple: since everybody gets five starting cards, it is very easy for anyone with a low door card to have two more low cards in the hole. And in fact, it is easy to get far superior hands like 5♡4♠3♣, 5♡3♠A♣, 5♡6♡7♡, and so on.

Most players play every weak hand that is "playable" in Stud 8 and sometimes playable in Super Stud 8. This is primarily because most players come to poker games to play hands, not fold hands. They play for fun, not profit. If you want to play Super Stud 8 for pennies or matchsticks on the kitchen table, it's a great game because the big majority of hands give you something to play. But if you are playing to make money, don't play like most people play. Don't "let's gamble" with 6♢4♡2♠ against opponents with 3♡2♡A♡ and K♡K♠K♣.

The pots to really force yourself to exercise good judgment are ones where all the starting up cards are low, and several players have entered the pot before you. The likelihood is most of the low cards are dead, and at best you are trying to get lucky against several players with hands just like yours. In these situations, it's foolish to play anything other than three suited wheel cards or something like 7♡2♡A♡, where your low suited cards are live. Playing 6♢5♡3♠ in situations like this is idiotic. Everybody has either a hand as good as yours or a much better one.

So what should you play?

First, rolled up hands. Starting with three of kind is better than any of the other types of hands, and by far too. Whether you play your rolled up hands very fast, raising and reraising immediately, or more deceptively depends upon the circumstances, but in general, blowing people out and scooping a pot earlier in a Super Stud 8 hand tends to be a lot better than you splitting or getting scooped on seventh street. This is especially true multiway... give three players low suited or straight cards and one of them will likely beat you if you don't fill up. The biggest downside to rolled up hands are to get to seventh street unimproved and have two low-looking hands betting and reraising you. You will often get scooped, but often 6432AQK is betting and 6542A6J is raising to try to get you out.

Always play rolled up big cards like KKK fast. That's what everybody will assume you have anyway, so you have nothing to disguise.

Except for rolled up hands, high hands of any kind should be generally avoided -- except for AA, especially AA with a suited wheel card. The biggest exception to this is: the highest non-ace card brings it in on the first round. So if you have the bring-in with a King, a few low cards fold, and the last player with a deuce up raises you, KKx now becomes a pretty good hand. It takes a lot for any hand with a 2 in it to grow up to be able to beat two Kings plus the four other cards you get.

Every low straight has a 4 and a 5 in it, and usually a 6. Except for rare multiway all-low hands, 456 is a much better starting hand than 234 is. It makes more straights and it makes better pairs and two pairs. Beware of any hand where you have a deuce (except three-suited) especially if your deuce is up. Some of the value in playing low hands is to get opponents with pure high hands to fold on fifth-street, but almost nobody folds to a board of 732. A Super Stud 8 board of even 743 is far more threatening.

Look for starting hands that jump out at you, ones that grab you by the throat and scream: "I must be played." Hands like 5♡4♡A♡ and 5♡4♡3♡ are much stronger than 5♢3♡2♠ or 7♢6♡4♠, especially multiway. Scooping is far better than splitting, and having a stronger starting hand allows you to take the heat if you catch a brick on any street.

The "I must be played" concept can also include a lot of weaker hands. If you have the only low card up or three cards 7 and below and the only up card is a seven or an eight, go ahead. Like all games, you are trying to play positive expected value hands. You'll usually have the best of it and will never be making much of a mistake if all your cards are lower than the next lowest up card.

Likewise, if you have a pocket pair of Kings and the bring in is a Queen, and there aren't any low cards left, this is a time when a high hand becomes "I must be played" playable.

In short look to do two things: play "I must be played" hands and "I must be played" situations.

Also always keep in mind that all Stud poker is about playing when the cards that are good for you are live. If you have 7♡6♡4♡, but the other up cards are A♡, 2♡, 5♡, 5♠ and J♡, your hand isn't as good as it would be if all the up cards were black picture cards. This also includes your other two hole cards. If you are dealt a pat 65432, you have to throw away two cards that make your hand, which means sometimes you should be folding hands that are crippled by dead cards that only you know about. When you get a hand like a 5 up and KKKK down, just fold it and imagine the fun you could be having with it if you were playing a different type of game.

Super Stud 8 is one of those action games that shouldn't have much action. Most players seem to play it as if they get five starting cards but everybody else is only getting three! In reality, three or more decent hands get dealt most hands. If you aren't rolled up, don't just play every "playable" hand that comes along. Play when you have a hand strong enough to drive the betting or stand the heat on a street where you brick. Don't try to "get lucky". Even playing only high quality starting hands, you are going to need your full share of luck to compete with a table full of people playing too aggressively in too many hands.