When you start with a high pair, fast play to eliminate as many players as possible.
Slow play starting draw hands like 3 to a straight or a flush. You want to keep other players in to build the pot odds.
Slow play starting trips until the 5th card. You want some players around with this powerful starting hand.
Usually don't begin with a small pair unless they are concealed or your side-card can beat the board.
Don't play 3 to a low straight or a low flush.
Watch the board closely for key cards that can seriously diminish your chances of making a good hand and for opponents’ hands that look dangerous. Play cautiously and fold out early if it looks like the tide is turning against you.
Beware of the paired door card. If an opponent is playing a pair in his starting hand, and pairs his door card (first up-card), the odds are 2 out of 3 that the door card is part of his pair. A paired door card presents a strong possibility that the holder has a dangerous set of trips.
Unless you are playing a strong draw hand, usually fold if your complete hand is beaten on the board by an opponent's up-cards.
Try to find reasons to fold both your starting hands and those that develop on the later streets. Look for a dead card in the denomination that you need and for 2 or 3 dead cards in the suit that you are drawing to. Look for too much strong competition developing for the winning hand. When you can't find reasons to fold, you can then proceed aggressively.
Study your opponents, especially when you are not playing hands and can pay careful attention. Do they find more hands to play than they fold? Do they bluff? Can they be bluffed? Do they have any 'tells' (give away mannerisms) that disclose information about their hands etc.
Get caught bluffing once in a while. It is a way to vary your play and not be too predictable. You win pots that you don't deserve when your bluff works. You lose a few chips when it doesn't work but it will get you calls from weaker hands down the line when you are really strong and need the action.
The first 4 cards are the major key to winning at 7-Card Stud Poker. If your starting hands develop according to plan, you can be a strong favorite to win. If they don't, you get out early and escape the expensive second best experience. The 3-card starting hands recommended above are those with the best chance of producing a dominant 4-card hand. Good 4-card hands that are carefully played don't always win but they win a lot more than the others.