Hi/Lo Concepts

Your Goal is Scooping

In all hi/lo games your goal is to scoop, which means to win the entire pot, not just half of the pot for high or low. 

In Seven Card Stud Hi/Lo there are two ways to take the entire pot--with a two way hand or with a high hand only.  Because you need to qualify for a low (5 cards 8 or lower) sometimes your opponents who are drawing for a low will not make this hand. 

Playing for High Only

This makes high-only hands playable, but keep in mind the probable strength of your opponents hand as the cards progress. By 5th street if you are drawing at a high hand you should be drawing to a hand that is able to beat any likely high hand the low draws might make.

Ok we say draws, but if you have made your flush, boat or straight on 5th street then needless to say that works too :)

In extremely loose Stud Hi/Lo games you will have several people drawing for a low and probably a couple with high draws as well.  Because of this if you are playing for high only you want to be drawing to a hand stronger than a low straight, which is a typical strong high hand produced by low draws. 

When drawing for a flush you simply must have at least an ace of that suit (preferably both an ace and another card ten or higher) in your hand.  Don't invest in King or Queen high flush draws because they'll be very expensive when a low draw runs into a higher flush.

A good high only flush draw starter

Ace of Hearts Seven of Hearts Ten of Hearts
Hole Cards Up Card

A bad high only flush draw starter

King of Hearts Two of Hearts Jack of Hearts
Hole Cards Up Card

When starting with a high pair, if you haven't improved to at least two pair by 5th street you should probably dump your hand in a multiway pot and play very passively in a heads-up or three-way pot.  Contrast this to a stud high game where your betting aggression should increase on 5th street with the same hand.

Playing for High and Low

Your ideal starting hand will be three low cards that can participate in a straight and ideally a flush.  Good starting hands include any three wheel cards (Ace, Two, Three, Four, Five), in fact you can play pretty much any starting hand that contains three of these cards as "Good" and if one of the cards is an Ace the quality of the hand should be considered premium. Other viable starting hands include three consecutive low cards less than 8 like Four, Five, Six.  An ace is a very strong starting card and can make some more marginal holdings playable if the game is passive (like Ace, Three, Seven).

Without iterating every possible starting hand, suffice it to say that what you want is a hand that is low and that can turn into a straight or flush.  If you follow that rule you should find yourself picking decent hands that will grow into strong high and/or low hands that you can be aggressive with.

What you don't want:

Two of Spades Four of Diamonds Seven of Hearts
Hole Cards Up Card

It is very difficult for this hand to turn into a strong high (flush or straight) or a strong low (typically a low will be seven high).  This means you can be trapped on the final betting rounds calling multiple bets with almost no chance at either side of the pot.  This is a trap hand, avoid it.

What you do want:

Ace of Spades Two of Spades Three of Spades
Hole Cards Up Card
Three of Hearts Five of Diamonds Four of Hearts
Hole Cards Up Card
Ace of Clubs Four of Clubs Six of Clubs
Hole Cards Up Card

The last hand in particular is still a good two-way hand because of the strength of the flush draw and the fact that it contains an ace.  If the third card was a 2, 3 or 5 of clubs this would be an insanely good starter.