Card Counting in Stud
Counting cards in stud isn't necessarily making a check-list of all of the cards that are out of play and having to memorize the cards for each and every hand. Don't give up on this strategy because it sounds difficult. It is probably one of the most important strategies to use to increase your winnings.
The more people that are in the hand, the easier it is to determine which cards are live, and what type of hands are playing. If you are playing online and have selected the option of using the four-colored deck, card counting is much easier.
The method of card counting that I use at low limit tables and stud 8/b with family pots can be compared to "connect the dots". With this type of card counting you are using your own hand as the main reference for knocking dead hands and cards off of the list of possibilities.
When the first round deal is completed, look at all of the door cards. Read which cards are out that you would need to make any type of connected straight, inside or out. You do not need to memorize these numbers. Just know that you should probably consider the cards dead if you have one or more of them in your hand and you need it/them to make a pair or better. If you have 69J, you will be looking at door cards on the table for any 5, 7, 8, T, and Q, as well as any other 6, 9, or J to pair your hand.
With the example starting hand above you are not playing for a straight when you are counting the cards. (I would hope you would pick a better opener for a straight) You are only using this as a reference of what cards are out. At the end of the first comparison you have now potentially either added or eliminated 8 cards from the deck not including the card numbers in your own hand.
Count the number of same suits in comparison to your hand to make a flush. This will give you a general idea of what type of flush is dead, and which type of flush is still live. You do not need to memorize how many of each suit is out, just what type of flush is potentially dead and what is live.
On fourth street:
Once again you will be looking at the cards at the table for anything that would have potentially given your hand a straight or a flush to eliminate cards from the deck, the types of hands being played, and how live the cards in your hand are. This potentially eliminates another 8 cards from the deck as well, and begins to give you an idea of what hands other players are betting and calling with so that you have a better idea of when to fold. When checking the flush draws you will be looking at any double suited 4th street cards in a hand.
For example, if there were too many hearts on the table at the door and you see a hand that has two hearts up on fourth street with yet more hearts on the table, most likely the possibility for a heart flush is not a threat. It is especially evident that a player is on a draw if they are calling with low or medium cards with other overcards at the table. Also beware of higher pocket pairs and potentially two pair on fourth street which leaves the possibility open for an early full house.
On fifth street:
The type of hands being played becomes more obvious. Find the cards again that would have potentially given your hand a straight or a flush. Check for the live or dead cards that would make your hand. Use the past information you have collected to determine who is drawing to straights and flushes. Be aware of overcards to your hand that are calling. Pay attention to who is checking and where to perhaps get an idea of which card was potentially their strength. (For example someone checked when they turned a J and bet when they turned a 7).
Check the cards for anything that is duplicated on the board such as a K appearing in three different hands. There should be several duplicates on the board between fifth and sixth street and they can usually be considered dead to being paired in someone's hand. This is especially helpful when determining if the King that re-raised the bring-in was bluffing a split pair or has a high pocket pair and used the king for leverage to intimidate other medium paired starting hands.
If you or anyone else has cards in their hand that would make someone else's straight, they are still potentially on a draw, however do not underestimate that they may have made their straight on fifth or still have one live inside or outside card for that hand to be made.
On fifth street beware of any pairs appearing on the board that could potentially have given a player three of a kind. Also beware of any straight draws. At a full table with a lot of callers you have seen nearly half of the deck of cards. Determine if any fifth street flushes that appear are still potentially live.
With practice, by fifth and sixth street at a low limit stud-hi table, you will most likely know what type of hands are playing a good percentage of the time.
You will also have a solid grasp of what cards are still live for you to make a weak hand stronger, or possibly out draw players with early made hands by the river.