Don’t chase the flush or straight
A straight or a flush is usually good enough to win at 7 card stud, but know your odds when trying to complete one or the other. For example after fifth street (2 down cards and 3 up cards) if you have “four to a flush” or “four to a straight” realize that your chances are 2-to-1 to get it on the next card, but if you don’t get it on that card then your chances aren’t so great, 4-to-1 (note: these odds vary slightly depending on what cards/suits are face up already). But as you can see the longer you chase cards, the lower your odds get for completing your desired hand. In most cases the better strategy is to fold earlier on.
Play well-disguised hands to their fullest
7 card stud is sometimes called the curious game because players have 4 cards up and 3 cards down, which keeps opponents constantly guessing what their opponents have. The only facts that your opponents have as hard evidence is your up cards, after that the rest is speculation. This means that they are constantly guessing the hidden strength of your hand, therefore the aggressiveness (or lack thereof) that you bet or raise. If you start with trips (your first three cards make three-of-a-kind) you are in a very nice situation, but all your opponents see are the one up card. Your opponents will almost always underestimate your hand, therefore limping in and checking an aggressive player is usually the best strategy.
On the other hand if you have nothing as your first two down cards but you get a couple high cards on your next 2-3 up cards then you have the recipe for a good bluff. While all you have is a high card, your opponents will usually give you a lot of respect for an Ace or King as an up card unless they know they can beat a pair of either. Being aggressive is typically a good strategy unless your opponent re-raises or appears that he may have an equally good (or better chance) at beating you.
Be wary of opponent up pairs
If your opponent is showing an up pair you should always be wary, but if you have a pair that already beats it, or you’re a card away from completing a flush or straight then it’s usually ok to stay in for a bit. But one general rule that all successful seven card stud players use is that if an opponent has a higher up pair than you do (using all your cards), then fold. For example you have 8s – 2h (down) and Jd – 9d up, if your opponent has 7d – 7s up it’s usually a good idea to fold, and if your opponent has an up pair of As – Ad then it’s almost ALWAYS a good idea to fold unless you either already have it beat or you feel your pot-to-bet odds are good enough to chase a card to complete a flush or straight.
Pay attention to the fold
Knowing what you have in comparison to what your opponents are showing as up cards is definitely important. But one key to seven card stud, more so than any other version of poker, is to pay attention to what cards other players have folded. It can give you a good indication as to whether or not they are playing very tight, and if they are and you’re playing in a showdown with them, they demand respect.