Top Razz Strategy
Although it's often seen as a fringe game with "strange" rules, Razz strategy isn't actually that dissimilar from the skills you'd use in Hold'em.
Of course, the flow of the game will be slightly different, but the main poker concepts that contribute to effective play in the world of two-card poker are equally applicable in the lowball world.
The first mission any aspiring online Razz poker player needs to complete is the basics. Unlike No Limit Texas Hold'em or Pot Limit Omaha, Razz is a lowball game which means the lowest hand takes the pot. In fact, were it not for this stipulation, Razz would actually be a simple game of 7-card Stud.
How to Play Razz
Each new game begins with active players being dealt two cards face down and one card face up. At this point the player with the highest up card is required to make the "bring in" bet (the ante defined by the stakes of the table) and the action begins. As the action develops, players are dealt three more cards face up before the final one is placed face down.
Each new card signals a new round of betting and the action starts each time with the player showing the lowest up card.
TEventually, if a showdown occurs, the player with the lowest ranking hand is declared the winner. But how do you determine the lowest ranked hand? Simple, the value of your hand is determined by the highest value card you hold.
Low Hands Equal High Profits
In general, a pair, set or full house won't win the pot. Straights and flushes don't count, so the main hand you're looking to make it one containing a random mixture of low cards. Another point to note is that aces are classed as low in Razz, so the best hand possible would be A-2-3-4-5.
In the event that a player's highest card ties with an opponent's, the second highest card is then taken into account and this continues until a winner is determined.
To give you more of an idea of how hand rankings in Razz work, check out the following examples:
(A-2) 5-K-3-5 (4)
Best hand = 5-4-3-2-A
This hand would therefore beat
(2-6) 7-5-A-3 (8):
Best hand = 6-5-3-2-A
(3-7) Q-6-K-5 (4)
Best hand = 7-6-5-4-3
This would therefore beat
(8-9) 6-10-2-A (4)
Best hand = 8-6-4-2-A
Razz Starting Hands
Now that you've got a handle on how Razz works from a structural point of view, how do you go about winning some money?
The first Razz strategy consideration you need to make is your starting hand. If you don't get off on the right foot in a game of Razz online it can be extremely hard to recover.
The reason for this is that the game is often played in a Limit or Pot Limit format which means bluffing is a lot more difficult in Razz than it is in a game like Hold'em. Therefore, choosing the right hand to play from the off is crucial.
To give you a good starting point to build from, here's a breakdown of the hands you should play and those you shouldn't.
Excellent Hands are hands which start with three cards that could potentially make a wheel. For example: 4-3-A, 5-4-3 or 3-2-A.
Good Hands are hands which have three low cards that could potentially make a 6-low. For example: 6-3-2, 6-2-A and 6-3-A.
Fair Hands are hands that can make a 7 or 8-low. You then rank fair hands by how low the cards are. For example, 8-3-A would be considered a good fair hand while 7-6-5 would be considered a poorer fair hand.
Poor Hands are considered to be three cards which make up a bad 8-low hand such as 8-7-5, or hands which make up a 9-low.
Key Razz Lessons
Although Razz doesn't follow the same format as Hold'em in terms of a button moving around the table (the bring-in is determined by the highest card after the initial deal), you should still be aware of position.
Watch what everyone does ahead of you and take note of the cards they are dealt. Knowing whether or not a card that helps your hand has been dealt should determine whether you call, raise or fold.
Raise Whenever Possible
If you're playing Limit Razz then betting and raising are crucial. Because you don't have the ability to put in as much cash as you might want, you shouldn't miss an opportunity to bet.
Instead of slow-playing as you would in Hold'em, the best Razz strategy suggests that you bet and raise when you're strong. This approach will allow you to extract as much value as possible and improve your overall EV.
Start Small, Then Go Fishing
Table selection is an important Razz strategy, but the best players will often start off in micro limit games before they up their ante.
As a general rule, most micro stakes players won't be particularly strong which means any game you sit down in should be profitable, proving you apply solid fundamentals. Once you're comfortable with the game, you can then start looking for tables with low aggression levels and loose pre-flop players.
Making money at Razz online is actually a lot easier than you'd expect. In general, the average Razz player isn't as skilled as the average Hold'em player and that means you can make money by simply implementing solid fundamentals.
Although it may be boring, ABC poker and constant value betting will prove extremely profitable in the long run. Moreover, if you take advantage of the bonuses offered at our recommended Razz sites, win rates are even easier to come by.
Top Razz Tip
If there was one Razz tip we'd urge you to bear in mind when you ante-up online, it's "think low".
The average online poker player will be used to making the best hand possible at showdown, but Razz is different.
Take time to learn the hand rankings as thoroughly as you can and always remember that your highest card determines the overall strength of your hand. Once you've got a handle on the rules, attack the play-money tables online and practise some skills before you hit the micro-stakes cash games.