Gambling books and 7 card stud.

Just in time for this year’s World Series Of Poker, James Swain has a couple of new gambling pulp books out. deadman’s poker and deadman’s bluff are another pair of books about casino cheating consultant Tony Valentine’s attempts to catch criminals cheating the World Poker Showdown, a thinly veiled reference to the World Series of Poker.

The books are full of casino culture, grifters and their tricks, and a little light on poker.  If you enjoyed the Grifters or Ocean’s Eleven, you’ll love these two books.  Although they are continuations of other books in the series, they stand pretty well on their own.

7 card stud

I’ve been playing 7 card stud for a while now, but decided to really focus on it this last week.  My online poker diet is now NL Hold’em tournaments and 7 card stud cash games.  Of course you have to study when you play a game, so I dragged out my copy of Super System and reviewed the chapter written by Chip Reese, a guy who today is still a champion poker player.  [By the way, in the introduction Reese tells a story about being an 11 to 10 favorite over a drunken player and losing all his money.  In case you’re one of those idiots that thinks that high variance is a good style…]

My seat-of-the-pants stud game has all the classic weaknesses.  I play too many hands, and then I don’t bet enough when I have the best hand.  Reese identifies a small set of hands that make up a great starting set: trips, 3 flush cards, 3 straight cards, and pairs.  I found that if you play only those hands you really find yourself with quite a few hands to play with and you save yourself a lot of money.  The other advice he gives (that I’ve been able to digest) has to do with why you’re betting on fourth street and later: to get people out of the pot.  Given the number of cards out there, it’s very dangerous to let anyone draw for free in limit stud.  If you have the best hand, you must always bet it to put people out of the pot.

The real fun discovery I’m having though, with stud, is that it’s an excellent petri dish for practicing your hand reading.  With so many cards in your opponents hand visible, you can really put them on a narrow range of hands.  Then it’s up to you to remember what kind of player they are and act accordingly.  Hand reading skills are like a muscle, you have to constantly exercise them, and stud is an excellent workout.

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