Spread Limit Stud
written by: James
Although not nearly as common as the fixed limit format, 7-card Stud is still played in many brick and mortar casinos using a spread limit betting format. The spread limit format allows players to bet within a range as opposed to only betting a 'fixed' amount. For example, in a $1/$5 spread limit Stud game, players would be able to bet as little as $1 but as high as $5 on any of the betting rounds. Rules will change from casino to casino, but other variations of spread limit Stud will also allow players to bet double the amount on later streets similar to fixed limit. The other noticeable difference is that most spread limit games do not require an ante but other than that, the rest of the game is generally played the same way.
Now, even though the rest of the game is played the same way, the difference in betting from the fixed limit format will require players to take a different approach in terms of strategy.
We have further explained this for you below.
Spread Limit Stud Strategy
Stealing Antes: In fixed limit Stud, it is a reasonable strategy to attempt to steal the antes every so often and worthwhile to do so since 8 players are chipping in every hand.
However, in most cases in spread limit Stud there are no antes so the 'bring in' is the only player that initiates any sort of monetary action. In a $1/$5 spread limit game, the 'bring in' would only be required to bet $1 to get the action started. If a player were interested in stealing that $1, they would have to put in a bet of at least $1 which would more than likely be called.
The solution to this would be to bet more, say, $3 to $5; then it would be likely to get players to fold. But the problem with betting that much money into a $1 pot is that there is more risk in comparison to the return, so it really isn't worth it.
In short, stealing in spread limit Stud is really a waste of time and/or money. Players are much better off calling and seeing 4th street for cheap and only raising when they have solid hands. It is just too likely a steal of a lesser amount than $3 or so would be called and on top of that, the pot odds will start to build up after that justifying players will weaker hands to tag along.
Starting Hands: Since this version of Stud is a bit more passive, you should be allowed to see more 4th and 5th streets for relatively cheap.
For example, in a fixed Stud game I would probably stray away from playing a hand such as K-J-9 because it is gapped in two different spots putting me in difficult drawing situations later on. This would also be combined with the fact that I would more than likely lack the odds to needed to be mathematically correct in chasing these odds.
This is different in a spread limit game because the betting is so relaxed that many times players will have the corrects odds to just limp in with a hand such as K-J-9 and see what can develop.
On top of that, say that 7 players limped in for a $1 on 3rd street and you were dealt a Q on 4th street giving you a gut-shot straight draw. It is highly likely that everyone will check giving you a free shot at the draw, but if someone does come in for the minimum of a $1, then by the time the action got to you it is possible to have odds of up to 13 to 1 (provided you are last to act and everyone calls $1). Even if you were last to act, someone bet $2 and everyone called, you would still be getting almost 10 to 1 which is still an 'ok' call for a gut-shot.
In a fixed limit game, players could not start or chase with hands like this because most times often then not, the odds would simply not be there.
Odds/Folding Hands: As we previously mentioned, players are more than likely going to have the odds needed to chase hands such as backdoor flushes, straights and gut-shot odds. This is thanks to the somewhat lax betting.
While this is great for you when you have a drawing hand, it is also important to remember that your opponents will do so as well. For example, if you happen to have a A-K-[A]-9 and you notice several opponents that have hands such as -9, [K]-Q or [A]-J, then it is possible to realize that these players may be drawing to a hand that is better than yours such as a straight or even a flush. During these times, it is important to reevaluate your hand and consider how it will hold up at showdown. If it seems as if you will lose at showdown because it is likely your opponents will catch up, then it would be a good idea to save your chips and fold.
These two variations of Stud may be slightly different, but a common understanding in both is that if you cannot seem to better your hand by 5th or 6th street and seems like your opponents will catch up to a better hand, it is in your best interest to fold your hand and save your chips for a better spot.
Playing Spread Limit Stud
Although spread limit and fixed limit Stud are technically the same game, the biggest difference players will find will be how the betting allows players to be more loose and passive in spread limit when compared to fixed limit Stud. This will mean that more often than not players will be mathematically correct in chasing various kinds of draws.
If a player has a solid foundation of 7-card Stud already and can make adjustments according to the table dynamics, then there is no reason for them not to be equally as successful in spread limit Stud.