Razz Strategy Tips and Advice
Razz is a game many players love to hate. Most of the hate comes from Hold’em players who are used to a game that is often about having their best starting hand hold up. In Razz, the game is a different beast, where having the best hand improves odds; but really, a hand is not complete until the later streets. The game requires a paradigm shift of sorts, for those used to playing strictly high games. For good players once their prospective on Razz changes, many fall in love with Razz, as over the long term, Razz is one of the more profitable poker games for experienced players. For the purpose of this article we will already assume you know how to play razz poker.
I’ve done well playing Razz, though my study of Razz strategy has been limited to only a couple of articles, a small section on Razz strategy in Doyle Brunson’s Super Systems (the original), and a little time logged on the tables. While my sample size is still somewhat small, I’ve been a 3.2BB/100 hand winner in 30/60 Razz at PokerStars.com over 14,000 hands and have made the final table and won several Razz MTTs at both PokerStars and Full Tilt. I’ll share with you here the basics of the Razz strategy I have developed.
Having an understanding of Razz strategy and having experienced some success, I prefer games with meaningful antes and bring-ins in relation to the stakes. I also prefer the bring-in to not be so small that it prices the bring-in player in too often, as Razz is a game where early bluffing is critical, because ultimately Razz is a game that is a struggle for blinds (the bring-in) and antes . For example, in a $2/4 Pokerstars.com game, the bring is $1 (half the betting stakes), where in $30/$60 it is $10 (one-third the betting stakes). Razz strategy needs to be adjusted depending how high the antes and bring-ins are in relation to the stakes. I prefer games with a one-third bring-in, but this is just a personal preference.
Winning Razz strategy is as much about playing good hands as it is about stealing ante’s and attacking bricks. In fact attacking bricks is probably one of the best razz poker tips we can offer you. Let’s say you’re dealt trip aces, yet all your opponents are showing face cards to start. This is a situation where you’d want to raise the pot, as none of your opponents are showing a playable hand, and often you’re going to win the pot despite having been dealt the worst starting hand. Also, say you’ve started with a hand like A2 | 7 against an opponent showing a 3. On the next street, you catch an Ace (now paired), but your opponent catches a face card. Here, you’ll want to bet again, as checking would reveal you’re paired, and your opponent caught bad and you want to win this pot. If he continues the hand despite catching a brick on fourth, you might win the hand later on. Let’s say we make two pair on fifth street: our hand is now A-2 | 7 A 2 . This is a horrible Razz hand, but it looks good to our opponent. This is a spot where we’re going to again bet, regardless of what card our opponent caught, as even a low card may have been paired and we can pick up the pot here or on the next street. Simply put, attacking bricks and playing a calculated aggressive style is winning Razz strategy.
Additional Razz Strategy
Razz Starting Hands: When starting out of position, without the opportunity steal, it’s a good idea to stick to hands which have three cards to a seven low or better. This can be modified in some cases to an eight or nine low, and it depends on the situation, game, and level of competition.
Attack Checks: In Razz, when a player catches a low card and then checks. This is often a gut reaction made by someone multi tabling or watching TV while playing. It is generally a clear sign they’ve paired up. Be careful though of odd play where a player checks with a good hand. in Razz, this is not a great play; though some hold’em players might not realize this, it is not optimal Razz strategy. Keep an eye out and make notes when players are slow playing; but, in general, when a player checks: Attack, Attack Attack!
Stay out of Trouble: In limit Razz games, some players get stubborn and decide to continue beyond fifth-street hoping to catch. After fifth, the betting stakes are double, so if you’re paired and have caught a brick, never be afraid to slow down or get out of the hand then. While aggression is important in Razz, careless-aggression is spewy and will make the difference between a winning Razz player and a losing Razz player.
3 Betting on third street: 3 Betting in Razz
Limping Strategy – Limping in Razz
More of a tournament player then check this article out: Razz Tournament Strategy
Finding yourself in short handed Razz games a lot, check out this article: Short Handed Razz Strategy
Tournaments or Cash Games? Razz SNG’s vs Cash Games
Need some bankroll management advice? Razz Bankroll Management
Razz Strategy Books
“Sklansky on Razz” is widely considered to have been the best Razz Strategy book written. The book is out of print, but its entire body is included in “Skansky on Poker”, which is a great read for all players. In the original version of Doyle Brunson’s Super Systems, there are seven pages on Razz strategy in the lowball sections. This book in its entirety is strongly recommended reading for all serious poker players.
For additional Razz Strategy, we suggest searching the forums at twoplustwo.com, and checking the Full Tilt Poker website, which has Razz Strategy written by Razz Bracelet winners Ted Forrest and Huck Seed.