Wednesday, March 23, 2005

Lessons on how to play Razz from a guy who never played Razz before, but cashed in his first Razz tourney, probably because it was everyone else’s first Razz tourney too:

Position in Razz after the deal is HUGE, even if it is only for one round. This is where you get the first, best idea of your relative strength. Most people seem to simply call the bring-in bet with 8, 9, or T high (including hole cards), complete with anything lower, and fold anything higher. Seriously, watch a table. This formula seems to be pretty consistent.

I tried to make plays with a low door card, no matter my down cards, especially if everyone else showed medium cards (8 or above). If I hit a second low card, I would bet out, typically taking down pots right there. I guess everyone assumed I had two more low cards buried (why else would I complete?).

If you’re to the right of the bring-in, you can see everyone act before it gets around to you, and probably get a pretty accurate read on the quality of the hands. I saw a lot of people folding aces, deuces, and treys, seemingly unwilling to put out the bets necessary to represent a strong hand. If some limpers also bring-in, you could reasonably put them on a hand based on their door card. If the card was a face card, you could put them on A2 or A3 in the hole. If the card was a medium card (8, 9, T), you could put them on two lower cards in the hole, but NOT A2 or A3 (else they would have completed). If the card was low (less than 7) and they only bring in, you could put them on ONE low down card.

If you’re to the left of the bring-in (the equivalent of EP in Hold’Em, but only for one round), you can base your actions on the board cards for the table and your knowledge of their table habits. Completing with a door Ace and garbage underneath will win some antes. Limping with good hands can be profitable if you KNOW that some schmuck will always complete. Don’t limp unless you’re willing to complete against multiple players.

I limped once UTG with A3/2 and allowed the guy to my left (who loved to complete with mediocre hands) to complete with his door 8 and bring four callers. I promptly raised, got all five to call. Got a seven for my next card (I don’t know all the terminology yet for stud games), and noticed that there was only one card between 4-6 on the board, giving me great drawing odds to my 7-high. So I raised a bet from a guy showing 76. Four callers now. I paired my board deuces on the next card while everyone else got cards higher than 8, which I actually liked because it cut down everyone else’s draws (and me look weaker). The dual benefit was that it likely made someone’s 9 or 10 high, meaning they were likely in for the duration. I hit my four on the next card, giving me a nut-7. Someone decided to bet their 976A board which I raised. Surely he knew I made my seven by now. Nope, he called. And bet the river. Which I raised after getting a 6. He called with 7652A. And complained about me hitting my six on the river, ignoring the fact that my seven already had him beat.

Razz is still very early on the learning curve for the online poker cognoscenti, and, now that I’ve had time to reflect on it, I might try to take advantage for the next few months. I did much the same thing last year when Omaha-8 first burst onto the online poker scene. Very little analysis is available on Razz and early adopters (and adapters) should be able to pick off some of the toe-dippers that are starting to discover the “new” game in town.


At 10:11 PM, Blogger Felicia :) said...

First off, don't let anyone help you with Razz. They will all have different theories, and some will contain grave errors, as did yours, but they will simply confuse you.

Second, run, don't walk to Sklansky's Razz book. "Sklansky on Poker," which used to be called "Sklansky on Razz" until it was incorporated into a larger book.

You will find nothing it's equal, and I have read every available writing on Razz.


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