One of the hardest things to learn in Seven Card Stud, or any poker game for that matter, is to not chase cards unless it is profitable for you to do so. Learning how to calculate pot odds is your mathematical solution to making this decision. Put very simply, playing pot odds means knowing what your chances of pulling the card you need to make your hand a winner and weighing those chances against the size of the pot. Here is a very basic example of calculating pot odds.
You have Jack/Queen face down in your hand and Nine/Ten face up on the table. This can be a very costly situation in a game of seven card stud. Most experienced players who cannot calculate pot odds fold in this situation. Most inexperienced players stick around to see the next three cards. Who is right? Neither of them are correct all the time; both of them are correct sometimes. To make the correct profitable decision you have to calculate your chances of getting the card you need.
In the most basic evaluation of this situation you have eight outs, or cards that will give you a good chance of winning the hand. There are four Kings and four Eights, any of which will give you a straight. You know what four of the cards are, the two in your hand and the two on the table. This leaves 48 cards which could show up on Fifth Street. Your chances of pulling one of the eight cards you need are 8 out of 48. This gives you a 1 on 6 chance.
However, because you are playing Seven Card Stud you have a lot of extra information you need to throw into the calculation. There are eight players at the table. Each player received a face up card to start the hand and three of the players have folded. What were those three cards they had in play? When you received your first three cards you were interested in keeping up with Nines, Jacks, and Queens. Then you were dealt a Ten and the situation changed making Kings and Eights important as well.
As you can see, Seven Card Stud is a game where you have to pay close attention to every card you see and every situation which could come up in the future. In order to correctly calculate the Pot Odds you must be able to remember all cards that have hit the table and quickly calculate your chances of getting the cards you need. Luckily, playing online makes this much less difficult. If you have access to a program such as Excel you can use it to quickly calculate your chances. This does not mean you do not have to pay attention, but at least you won’t have to be a human calculator. I have created a simple Excel sheet for you to use in your calculation. Simply enter the number of cards left in the deck and the amount of the bet you are considering, and it will tell you the total amount the pot should be for you to consider calling.
In a situation where there are 37 unknown cards (15 are known: I have 4, three players have folded showing me 3 total, and 4 players are still in showing me eight total) and you have to pay $2 to stay in the hand, you fill in the top two boxes, hit enter, and the sheet looks like this:
Left In Deck 
40 


$$ Of Bet 
2 

Required Pot 



Size For Call 
# of Outs 
Percentage 
Chances  1 in 
To Make Sense 
1 
2.50% 
40.00 
80.00 
2 
5.00% 
20.00 
40.00 
3 
7.50% 
13.33 
26.67 
4 
10.00% 
10.00 
20.00 
5 
12.50% 
8.00 
16.00 
6 
15.00% 
6.67 
13.33 
7 
17.50% 
5.71 
11.43 
8 
20.00% 
5.00 
10.00 
9 
22.50% 
4.44 
8.89 
10 
25.00% 
4.00 
8.00 
11 
27.50% 
3.64 
7.27 
12 
30.00% 
3.33 
6.67 
13 
32.50% 
3.08 
6.15 
14 
35.00% 
2.86 
5.71 
15 
37.50% 
2.67 
5.33 
16 
40.00% 
2.50 
5.00 
17 
42.50% 
2.35 
4.71 
18 
45.00% 
2.22 
4.44 
19 
47.50% 
2.11 
4.21 
20 
50.00% 
2.00 
4.00 
21 
52.50% 
1.90 
3.81 
22 
55.00% 
1.82 
3.64 
23 
57.50% 
1.74 
3.48 
24 
60.00% 
1.67 
3.33 
25 
62.50% 
1.60 
0.88 
All I have to calculate is my number of outs. In the case of the open ended straight above I have eight outs (four 8s and four Kings). Let’s assume that one of the Kings is face up in someone else’s hand and this drops my number of outs to 7. By looking at the spreadsheet under the 7 Outs column I can see I have an 18.92% (or 1 in 5.29) chance of getting one of the cards I need. Then if I look over at the required pot size column, it shows that the pot amount should be at least $10.57 for me to consider calling. Keeping track of the number of unknown cards and the number of possible outs takes a lot of concentration and can be tough. You will need to practice before it becomes second nature. In the long run, a quick look at your bankroll will show you why it is all worthwhile.
5 Card Draw strategy
7 Card Stud strategy
Omaha Poker strategy
Omaha Hi/Lo Poker strategy
Texas Holdem strategy
7 Card Stud strategy
7 Card Stud variations
7 Card Stud terminology