question you must always address, then, is when to
play a hand straightforwardly and when to use deception.
The most important criterion for making this decision
is the ability of your opponents. The tougher they
are, the more you must consider playing a hand other
than optimally to throw them off. The weaker they
are, the more you can get away with optimum play.
Thus, if you have a good hand on an early round, you
would not put in that last raise against tough players,
but with a weaker hand you might consider putting
in an extra bet to make your opponents think your
hand is stronger than it is. For example, with a three
flush on third street in seven-card stud you might
throw in a reraise to create the wrong impression.
Now if you happen to pair on board, you have the extra
equity that your opponents may fold incorrectly, afraid
you have three-of-a-kind or two pair.
On the other hand, if you are playing against dunces
or just mediocre players, you don't gain enough in
deception to justify the cost. Against such players
you should put in an extra raise when you think you
have the best hand, but throwing in an extra bet with
a weaker hand, against someone who won't fold anyway,
simply costs you extra money. In using deception,
then, you must weigh the ability of your opponents
against the extra cost.
kicker starts to matter a lot when you have a medium
pair. For a hand to be playable, you need all three
starting cards working together. If you have a pair
of Aces, then any kicker works with it for Aces up
potential. But with a smaller pair, you need a good-sized
kicker to have a draw at a high two pair. Medium-sized
two pair, like 9s and 6s for example, are not strong
hands in seven-card stud and are probably overall
money losers for most players. Actually, medium-sized
two pair are probably long-term money losers for most
players in any popular form of poker today. A lot
of players seem to think all two pair are alike, and
this is far from correct.