Razz Poker Strategy – Online Razz Poker Tips
Razz Poker is an intimidating form of poker to begin playing, simply because it is very different from Texas Holdem, the most popular poker variation. However, once you get the basics down, Razz is a surprisingly simple and profitable poker game. Using good Razz Poker strategy, you can quickly become a solid winning player. If you do not know the basics of Razz Poker, read my guide to Razz Poker rules first.
Once you have the dealing and betting sequences understood, you can begin to expand your wealth of knowledge towards becoming a Razz Poker expert. Only through knowledge, experience, and creativity can you become truly proficient at any form of poker. Here are a few Razz Poker tips to start you on your way to mastery.
Razz Poker Starting Hands
As with any poker game, your starting hand selection is the cornerstone of your successful Razz strategy.
You must be willing to be patient, fold often, and play premium starting hands past third street. Many of the best Razz Poker players fold more than 75% of their hands after looking at just the first three cards. By doing this, they have an inherent advantage over other players who play more, and thus weaker, starting hands. The more hands you play, the more likely those hands suck.
The best starting hand in Razz is A-2-3, the three lowest cards in the game, but a combination of any three cards lower than five is a wonderful starting hand and should be raised.
An acceptable tight-aggressive starting hand strategy for Razz is to only play three card eights or better. For example, A-4-7 or 3-6-8. However, if you have the patience to play only three card sevens or better, that is a much better strategy, especially when you are a newer player. When you get more comfortable playing fourth street and beyond, and keeping track of dead cards, you can start playing more hands. The more experience and skill you have, the better you can play your marginal hands.
- If you are playing against better players who play relatively tight opening hands, you can tighten up a bit to three card sevens. You will not be playing many hands though, and need to be more aggressive when you do have a playable hand. You will want to win bigger hands when you do win. This is because you will be winning less hands. When you win less hands, you try to win as much as possible in those hands. This is the basis for tight-aggressive play.
- If you are playing against very loose players who play too many hands, and hold on to them too long, you can loosen up and play to three card nines. Make sure that you do not play your weaker hands too far though when it is obvious that your opponent(s) have a strong hand.
Exceptions to Razz Starting Hand Rules
There are two exceptions to playing only strong (three card eights or better) starting hands when playing Razz:
- You are in a good position to steal the antes and bring in. You have a small card showing and everyone else has folded except for one player or two, whom both show big cards. You can often raise against these players and win the antes regardless of what your hole cards are. You are showing that you have a strong hand. It doesn’t matter if you do or not, because you can see that your opponent doesn’t.
- Your door card is lower that your opponents’ and you have two low hole cards. An example is if you have a nine showing and have a 2-3 in the hole. Your opponents’ show nothing lower than a 10. It doesn’t matter that your hand isn’t very good. It is better than all of your opponents’ hands. You have the best hand right now. It’s very cut-and-dry.
Keeping Track Of Dead Cards In Razz
The most important skill in Razz Poker is to keep track of ‘dead cards’. Dead cards are cards that you have seen in other players’ hands. By keeping track of the cards already eliminated from the deck, you can apply two very important Razz strategies:
- You have a better idea of what will be dealt on future streets. Let’s say your first three cards are 3-6-8 and you are trying to decide whether to play or not. There are seven other players in the game and their upcards are 3-5-8-8-6-J-K. Remember that the most important things to avoid in Razz are pairs. Fortunately, many of the cards that would pair your hand have already been dealt to other players – they are ‘dead’. This makes your hand stronger, because your chance of being dealt a pair greatly decreases.
- You know how strong your hand is compared to your opponents’ hands. If you pay attention in Razz, you can get a lot of concrete information about how strong your hand is compared to other players.
If you would like to practice your Razz Poker strategy, I would suggest playing at PokerStars.
You can also read my review of the best Razz online poker rooms.