7 Card Stud - 4th Street Strategy
Assuming you have strict starting hand requirements, I will assume that you make it to 4th street with good cards. You will need to be paying close attention to what your opponents recieve on 4th street, and how they bet it, as this will give you great insight into what they are holding.
4th Street with a Dominating Hand
I consider trips (three of a kind) and 4 of a kind to be :”powerful hands” on 4th street. Both of these will probably win the pot outright, with no further help. In the case of 4 of a kind, I would suggest slow playing. If you slow played your rolled up trips (your first 3 cards), this can work beautifully here. Wait till the bets are doubled before jamming the pot. With 4 of a kind, you want the other players to develop good hands like flushes and straights that they will raise and re-raise with! This pot is almost completely in the bag, so let everyone limp along and build hands that they will call you to the river with.
3 of a kind (trips) is somewhat trickier. While this hand has a huge chance of winning by itself, the last thing you want is for someone to draw to a flush or straight and beat you. If you feel there are several players limping along hoping for a flush or straight, do not hesitate to bet and drive some of them out. But be careful not to drive everyone out. You can beat everyone holding 2 pairs or less, and if you make a full house, then you can rake in some serious cash off players who complete their flush or straight.
4th Street with 2 Pair
This is a touchy decision based on many factors. What is your top pair? If you have Aces high, then you may be in good position to slow play here. If you have 10's as your top pair, you're probably better off jamming the pot. Two pair is strong, especially this early in the streets, but its still very beatable, if you let too many players limp along. If there are only a couple of players remaining and you sense they have weak cards, slow play is a good idea. On the other hand, if you have 4+ players in the pot, a well timed bet here might help you force out a potential flush or straight draw that could beat you later.
Slow play at your own risk though. I almost always jam the pot with 2 pair on 4th street. If someone is going to try and pray for a miracle card, make them pay to play.
4th Street with a High Pair
If you are dealt a pair and don't improve on 4th street, then you have no other option than to jam the pot and force people out. If someone has paired their doorcard and their pair beats yours, fold. If you can beat the pair on their porch, bet into them or raise their bet. If they only have the pair, they will probably just call your bet. If they have 3 of a kind, they will probably try and cap the pot. Its worth an extra bet on 4th street to find out though, rather than find out the hard way when the bets are doubled.
Also consider who it is that you are betting against. If hes a strong player who generally only plays pairs, then you are probably up against 2 pair now or even worse trips. If you get the sense you're already beat, fold your cards on the cheap streets and save your bankroll for another fight.
But the general rule is, if you were leading on 3rd street and you're not beaten in sight on 4th street, you have a good shot at still being in the lead. Bet and force everyone out. A single pair rarely wins in 7 stud, low limit poker.
4th Street with a Draw Hand
If you have 4 to a flush or 4 to an open ended straight, I would probably put in a bet here. Always watch for cards of your suit or cards that complete your straight, that unfortunately land on another player's porch. If you count more than 3 of your suit, or 2 of the cards needed for your straight, you are at a serious disadvantage. Generally though, with four of your cards already in your hand and plenty of live cards, you will be taking this hand to the river. If none of the cards you need are showing, then put in a bet here, and call if you are raised. This hand can pay off big dividends, but you have to accept the reality that it still needs help.
If after 4 cards, you are still 3 to a straight or flush, you should consider folding. If you don't see more than 3 of your flush suit or 2 of your straight cards on the board, then definitely try to stay in cheap. If on the other hand you're seeing alot of your “outs” in other people's hands, fold your cards.
4th Street with a Low Pair
The only time you should consider staying in past 4 street with a low pair is if you're getting in free or by calling one bet, and only if there are none of your pair or high kicker showing on the board. In other words, if you have a pair of 3's with Ace kicker, if another ace or 3 shows up on 4th street, and you are not the fortunate recipitent, then fold.
The only two exceptions to this are when you feel you have high hand, even with the low pair. You might jam the pot and see if everyone will fold and allow you to pick up a small pot. Secondly, if your 4th card was a high paint card, it might be a good oppurtunity to bluff. It wont be a naked bluff, because even if you are called, you still have a pair to fall back on and potential for a better hand.