Short Handed Razz Strategy

PokerStars.comA winning short handed Razz strategy just requires you to make a few important adjustments to the normal strategy you would employ at a full 8 handed table. Given that Razz isn’t as popular as say no limit Holdem or Omaha you will often find yourself in a short handed game as you wait for the table to fill or as people dive in and out of the game. This article will deal with the adjustments you need to make to formulate a good winning short handed Razz poker strategy. It will cover three major topics stealing, starting hand ranges and defending the bring in. If you play Razz online then you’ll have been in many short handed situations, I play all of my Razz poker online at PokerStars.com and it’s not uncommon to play 4 or 5 handed for long periods of time.

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Stealing The Blinds Short Handed

When playing short handed Razz poker be it at the end of a tournament or at a cash table you can steal the blinds a lot more frequently. The general consensus when it comes to blind stealing strategy when playing Razz is that you should look for opportunities to attack the bring in when the action has been folded to you and you have the lowest door card showing. The same rule is applied when playing in short handed Razz poker games but the opportunity to steal will present itself on a much more regular basis.

This is when your read on a player comes into play much more than the cards you are actually holding. Having a good read on your opponents when playing short handed is crucial, if you know a player is quite tight then you can abuse that by stealing from them on a regular basis, if a player is loose then you can open your value raising range and take advantage of their inferior hand selection strategy.

When playing short handed the same stealing concepts apply, you will just be presented with the opportunity to steal on a more regular basis. Take that opportunity, get reads on your opponents and adjust accordingly.

Adjusting Your Starting Hands To Short Handed Razz

Adjusting your value raising range when playing short handed Razz is also crucial to a winning style. The fewer players at the table the wider range of hands you can open for value. In a normal 8 handed Razz cash game you might look to raise 6 lows and better from early position. If you’re sat at a 4 or 5 handed table then you can open up and start raising with hands like A-3|7 and even 8 low hands with two cards to a wheel. The fewer players at the table the more you can expand this range. Hand rankings go up, hands which are marginal become much more playable and even poor hands like 9-4|5 and 6-7|8 become playable as long as you are opening the pot with a raise.

You are more likely to end up in a heads up pot playing short handed and as a result it’s important that you are the aggressor in the hand. Representing strength on 3rd and 4th street will allow you to take down a lot of small pots uncontested.

Defend Your Bring In When Playing Short handed

Personally I don’t like to defend my bring in on a regular basis no matter how short handed a game is however there are situations in which defending is the best option. The nature of short handed Razz means that there will be more stealing and players will be opening with a wider range of hands. As a result of this you can defend A-2|x and A-3|x type hands even if you have brought in the action and are visibly weak. The fewer players at the table the less likely the original raiser is to have a premium holding meaning your A-2 and A-3 type hands are never in terrible shape going into 4th street. If the raiser is a loose aggressive type of opponent and is trying to exploit the fact that you are visibly weak then there’s even a chance your A-2|x is ahead of his range.

Short handed Razz strategy really does come down to the reads you have on your opponents and how aggressive you think they are. If you can get an aggressive image in a short handed Razz cash game then you put yourself in a great position to get paid off when you have a big hand.

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