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7 Card Stud
Roy West
Publisher: Poker Plus Publications (1996)
ISBN: 1-884466-21-4
Pages: 156
Reviewed: 1/97

Roy West's book on low/middle limit stud is in a sense the companion volume to Lee Jones's "Winning Low Limit Hold'em". It similarly attacks the problem of how to win specifically at low and medium limit stud games, without getting heavily into poker theory, simulation numbers, etc. It just lays out a solid strategy that beginners can use to approach the game. (It may be that West's publishers have come out with a companion hold'em book - whether or not this is the case, I think it still makes sense to compare these two books.)

West does a particularly good job of putting the strongest emphasis on points that most beginners have trouble with - e.g., playing live cards, and playing your opponents (rather than just playing your cards). He also, perhaps inevitably, takes the reader through stud strategy street by street, explaining what sorts of thought processes should be going on, and how to play particular tricky situations.

I don't always enjoy West's folksy writing in Card Player, or get much out of his columns. But I think he's written a very good book, certainly a good introduction to the basic concepts of low limit stud. Although I haven't read other beginning books on stud, I think West's book compares very well to other poker books I've read in terms of clarity, and I believe the approach he describes will take a novice player pretty far. At any rate, I'm thankful that the people I usually play stud with don't read.

As a postscript, I noticed a strange disparity in my reaction to the Jones and West books. I think at the root of it is this: a beginner needs to learn both the fundamentals - the things that more advanced players build on - and those skills necessary specifically to play against weak opposition. Both of these books certainly include both types of information. But it seems to me that Lee's book leans more towards the latter - a special strategy for beating weak hold'em games - while West's book leans towards instilling the basic skills. It's not clear to me that this doesn't just reflect a difference in either the games or how they're played, since I wouldn't fault either book for taking its particular approach.

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