Razz game strategy
Razz is a seven-card game where the weakest hand wins. It is a great poker format, but even the best poker players in the world find it frustrating at times, as it’s a very strategic game.
Each player is dealt 7 cards, 5 of which should be the worst since they will be considered as winning ones in this game. In contrast to a traditional card ranking, a combination with unsuited cards – A-2-3-4-5 – considered the best hand in razz.
In this article, you will learn about important strategies, get useful pieces of advice, as well as familiarize yourself with a hand example that will prompt you how to play according to the strategy and make your game profitable.
Basic game rules to learn
Let’s consider the basic rules of this poker format, using the $2/$4 Razz game as an example. Here is how it works:
- First, all players at the table should post antes ($0.50). Next, every participant gets three cards (two cards face down and one card face up). The one whose visible card is the highest makes a forced bet: full bet ($2) or half the minimum bet ($1). Then, the rest players join the game, that is, make actions clockwise (call, raise, or fold).
- After that, the 4th street of betting begins: all players receive a 4th card face up. From this street on, the one who has the lowest visible card is first to act by either checking or betting. The minimum bet is $2.
- Now, it’s time for the fifth card to be dealt face up. Players take their decisions given that the minimum bet increases to $4.
- The sixth round of betting starts when players get the 6th card face up. The minimum bet sizing is still $4.
- Then, the seventh card is dealt face down. This is the last round of betting; the minimum bet is $4. The player with the lowest hand wins the pot, that’s it.
To improve your knowledge, we suggest that you watch a tutorial video on how to play razz from the well-known poker professional Daniel Negreanu:
Remember: in Razz games, you need to collect the weakest hand…the worse the better.
Razz poker: important features
Like any poker game, Razz also has specific features that differentiate it from all other variations:
- A max of 8 people can join the table.
- The lowest 5-card combination wins the pot.
- The following combination is the lowest one: 5-4-3-2-A (or the so-called Wheel).
- Such hands as a flush and a straight (which are considered strong hands in traditional Hold’em games) just have no value in Razz games.
- Ace never plays high; it’s a card of the lowest value.
- As usual, strong starting hands don’t include cards bigger than 7.
- Only three raises per betting round are allowed.
- If two or more participants get a card of the same value, then to define the highest starting card that is dealt face-up, suit values are taking into account. Their order is as follows: Clubs (it's the lowest one), Diamonds, Hearts and Spades (it's the highest one).
Razz game tips to note
Well, let’s discuss a few useful strategy tips and some decision options to consider in particular situations:
- Select a good starting hand
It can’t be guaranteed but any combination of unsuited cards lower than seven (7 inclusively), which don’t include pairs, is considered to be a good starting hand. Look at the opponent’s cards that are visible to you. If you see that many cards are lower than yours, then make a fold. If your cards are lower but they are not perfect, then remember that you can still improve it.
- Odds calculation
Many beginning players have a poor perception of odds. You can see both open and mucked opponents’ cards. Mucked cards are important information. Dead cards cannot influence your hand. Knowing what exactly is among the mucked cards will prompt you what cards have remained in the game. It’s very important to trace the remained cards that participate in the playing.
- Exact reads
In razz, as in any other kind of poker, there is a physiological aspect. Good players make reads skillfully while trying not to be “read” by other players. Poker tells are not just a cliché and most people give exactly the information you need.
It’s much more difficult to define online tells but the more information you observe and fix, the higher is the probability of seeing them. The players tend to obtain game habits and it’s easy to define them if you play with the same group of people every time and make a progress.
Play the cards even if they are not strong enough. You will probably not win but master bluffing can force the diffident players to fold their cards. Just don’t overdo the bluff and don’t change your manner otherwise the opponents will understand that you are bluffing.
- Adherence to politeness
You will both lose and win, no matter how good or bad player you are. Be polite in any situation and you will always be welcomed at the table.
Remember that the one who is self-controlled, pays attention to details, and who is versed in the game will be at the top. Good mix of tight and loose playing with periodic brave moves – this is a great strategy to confuse your opponents. In order to constantly win in poker, you need to show performance and to analyze the situation since experience doesn’t always lead to a victory.
Also, the winning strategy in razz is to steal ante and attack blank cards. In fact, the blank cards attack is probably the best advice that relates to this game.
Let’s assume that you have been dealt trips of aces, and all your opponents have opened cards from J to K. This is a situation when you need to raise the pot since none of your opponents have playable cards. You will usually win despite your hand is the worst.
Also, you have started the game with such a hand as A2 | 7 against the opponent who shows 3. You get Ace on the next street (now, you have a pair) and your opponent gets some high card. You should bet here again since check will evidence that your cards are paired. Here your opponent hasn’t hit the board, and you have to win this pot. If he continues to play his hand despite the blank on the 4th street, you have to win the hand on the next street. Let’s assume that we have two pairs on 5th street.
Now, our hand consists of the following cards: A2 | 7A2. It’s a bad hand in razz, but it looks strong for our opponent. This is the case where we will bet again despite the card our opponent hits since even a low card may be paired and we can take the pot here or on the next street. To speak simply, attacking the blanks and playing a computed aggressive style – this is the winning strategy in razz.
Strategic advice for playing Razz
Starting hands: when you start with no position and with no opportunity to steal – a good idea will be to stick to the hands where 3 cards are lower than 7 or better. In some cases they may be lower than 8 or 9; it depends on the situation, game, and level of competition.
As for the premium starting hands in Razz, here they are:
Check attack: in razz when a player hits the low card, he can check. Usually, it’s an instinctive reaction made by the one who multi-tables or watches TV during the game. As a rule, it is a clear sign that their cards are paired. Think carefully about a non-standard game where a player checks with a good hand. It’s not the best strategy in razz poker although some Hold’em players cannot understand it. Stay alert and fix the situations when players apply slow playing, but in general – attack, attack, and attack when an opponent checks.
Stay away from troubles: in limit razz, some players become stubborn and decide to continue a game after the 5th street in the hope to hit something. The bet limits are doubled after the 5th street, that’s why if your cards are paired and if you have hit a blank, don’t ever be afraid to slow down or to leave the game.
Although not everyone thinks that razz is an exciting kind of poker, it still remains a favorite one for many players. It's worth learning to play. Often in H.O.R.S.E. the razz is less popular, which means that short training will help you to get ahead of your opponents and the tactics, offered in this article, will make your game profitable.
How to read opponents in Razz
The biggest difficulty that people face playing Razz games is that you can’t get much information on their opponents. This makes Razz challenging but fun. Therefore, you have to be even more focused on other players than in traditional Hold’em games and use every portion of the information you can find.
How can you get that information? Just watch your rivals’ play because each time they make a bet, check or raise, you receive some information that can be pulled for your own advantage. Gathering information on opponents will help you increase your profit in the long run.
Here are things you can learn so that playing Razz games will bring you more money:
- Find those who lead an aggressive play before making a hand.
- Try to memorize opponents who enter the game too often.
- Watch for those who frequently apply bluffs during the last round of betting.
- Find opponents who stick to betting and raising only when having a good hand.
You can easily exploit each of these opponents in order to earn money from them.
Where to play Razz Poker games online
In Razz, a hand can be often destroyed by the last 3 cards, which is very frustrating especially after you have invested big money in the pot. Nonetheless, it’s a fun poker format, and many people like playing Razz games, so here is the list of poker rooms where you can find them:
The room is definitely one of the best sites where you can play Razz poker online. At peak times, there are more than twenty Razz cash tables running at different limits (from $0.04/$0.08 to $100/$200).
Stars also provide Razz tournaments. For those interested, the poker room daily hosts a few Razz MTTs. Besides, the PokerStars World Championship of Online Poker (WCOOP) includes three Razz poker events with big guarantees, where you can win solid prize money.
Full Tilt Poker
They have slightly less traffic in relation to Razz tables, but one can also find regular Razz action here. It’s the only poker room that provides Razz cash games in the heads up format. Here, you will find Razz games with stakes from $0.04/$0.08 to $100/$200.
As for Razz poker tournaments, there are a lot of Razz tournaments running each day at Full Tilt. Their buy-ins vary from $0 (freerolls) to more than $200 (for high rollers).