Razz is a fun and exciting form of Seven Card Stud and, as the name implies, can cause some heartbreak and frustration. While somewhat rarely seen alone, Razz is a common and spicy addition to many mixed games, both in cash games and tournaments. While the game is known for the wild swings and changes of fortune during a hand, it also offers many interesting opportunities to apply strategic concepts and outwit your opponents. If you follow the suggestions below, you will increase your chances of making a profit at the Razz tables.
Draw From the Bottom Up
Players new to Razz and other Lowball games often don’t realize that there is a huge difference between a hand like A-2-3-7 and 3-4-5-7. After all, in both hands you are drawing to a seven low, right. While that fact is correct, and if you fill either you will beat any eight low or worse with either hand, the first hand is MUCH more powerful because any time you catch the same higher card as your opponent, the former will win. So, while the highest card in your hand is going to determine the absolute strength of your hand, the others are very important in the event of a tie on the highest card, which is not at all uncommon in this game.
Stealing on Third Street
When most novice players begin playing Razz, they look at the highest card in their hand on third street and then compare that to the door cards of the rest of the players at the table in order to decide if they want to continue to the next street. What they sometimes forget is that their opponents have no idea what they have in the hole because they can only see their first up card. Therefore, if you have a hand such as a five up, and everyone has folded to you with players with medium or high cards left to act behind you, it makes little difference whether you have A-2 in the hole or K-Q; a raise is probably going to win you the pot. Even if one of your opponents suspects that you may be stealing and calls you on third street, then unless they both catch good AND you catch bad on the next card, a second shot will often win you the pot on fourth street. Obviously, this is an extremely common scenario in Razz, and a good eye for when to attempt to capitalize on these spots will give you a very significant edge in the game, especially in tournaments where picking up the blinds and antes is so important as the levels rise and players are looking to play tighter.
Remember the Mucked Cards
One of the cornerstones to any good player at any form of Stud is the ability to remember the up cards folded by your opponents on earlier streets. While a photographic memory would be a great help in any form of poker, it would give you an absolutely huge advantage in Stud games, and Razz is certainly no exception. Often the most important decisions in Razz are often made on fifth street when the betting limits have doubled, and it’s now time to decide if you’re going to see the hand through to the river or let it go and cut your losses. When you are faced with borderline decisions in this situation, it often helps to mentally go through the mucked cards to determine how live your outs are, and therefore if it makes sense to continue. For instance, say that on fifth street you feel that your opponent has made his 7-5 low, and you hold 3-4-56-K and thus feel that you need an ace or deuce to win. If between your opponent’s up cards and the cards mucked on earlier streets you’ve seen three deuces and two aces, then that leaves only three cards left in the deck for you to catch, and you may want to abandon ship. On the other hand, if you haven’t’ seen any of them so far, then there are as many as seven left in the deck (your opponent much have at least one in his hand to have a seven-five low) and in this case your drawing odds are much better and you have a much better reason to continue with the hand.
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