Top 10 Razz Tips
Razz is a great lowball game played like 7-card Stud but with one key difference: the lowest hand wins.
Each player gets three cards to start with, two face down and one 'up card'. Limit betting rounds follow, with the players at showdown having to make the best low 5-card hand.
At showdown, the player with the ''worst", i.e. the lowest, qualifying 5-card hand wins the pot. The best (or lowest) hand in Razz is the 'wheel', or a straight consisting of A-2-3-4-5.
While not that prevalent online, Razz is slowly becoming popular among low-stakes Hold'em players looking for a change. And if you're heading to the World Series of Poker you will find some reasonably-priced tournaments to put your skills to the test.
While we go into deeper strategy elsewhere on the OnlinePoker.com site, here are a few good pointers to get you started on the Razz road.
1 - Get Your Starting Hands Right
Good starting hand selection is essential in Razz. You need to aim for three cards between ace and 5 (with the Ace ideally being one of your down cards to disguise it).
Therefore, hands like (A-2) 3 and (A-3) 4 are solid, as are (4-3) 5. Cards that have a chance of making 6-low hands are good too, such as (6-3) 2, (A-3) 6 and (A-2) 6.
Starting with solid hands is essential in Razz. While it may seem obvious, you need to fold hands with two big cards in your down cards. Pairs are hard to improve upon as you will always be discarding one or both of them.
2 - Tight is Definitely Right
As well as sensible hand selection, sitting tight and betting premium hands strongly is a solid move.
If you come across an aggressive player who seems to be betting every street regardless, don't get sucked in; sit tight and bet your strong hands well to take advantage.
3 - Pay Attention to Folded Cards
Tracking the 'dead' cards is essential. If three players get to fifth street and fold, that's six up cards you need to remember as you continue the hand against the remaining players.
Keep good mental notes on what has been folded and this will help you work out your outs later on.
4 - Concentrate on Tight Players
Razz is a game where bluffing your draws can work wonders against tight nits.
If you're showing three low cards, and your opponent is prone to folding, throw out strong bluffs. The betting is Limit in any case, so you're not losing too much value if they call.
5 - Watch the Up Cards
Conversely, if you're following the dead cards, what about the live? It's so important to assess what other players are playing in their up cards through a hand.
Obviously, if a player is displaying (x)(x) A-3-5 and you have the (x)(x) 4-3-6 they're in a better position than you, but you also have two cards displayed that can help you make your hand (the 5 and A).
These can then be crossed off your list of outs and help you work out the correct pot odds on each draw.
6 - Slow Down To Portray Strength
In online games, particularly at low stakes, you are going to come across some loons who haven't got a clue what they're doing and will bet aggressively with anything.
If you find yourself up against someone like that, slow right down. This is especially good if you have a made hand and get to fifth street showing reasonable low up-cards.
The aggressive opponent will start to bet into you, thinking you're limping along and chasing a draw. What they won't know is that your down cards have made your low hand and you can set your trap.
7 - Betting Strong With Low Pairs
Hitting pairs can be a killer in Razz as they count against you so much of the time, especially if they're showing up (e.g. third and fourth street).
But if your down cards are low, you can still continue your betting against opponents who think you've messed up your hand. Let's say you get dealt (A-2) 3-3. While the pair of threes won't help you at all, you're still in a strong position with the remaining A-2-3.
Of course, you can bluff with a low pair like 3-3 showing, even if your down cards are high, to give the impression the pair isn't hurting your hand.
8 - Hunt Around For Games Online
You won't find too many sites offering Razz, so consider opening multiple Internet poker accounts and loading them up with a little real money each.
Even if a room offers Razz cash games, the traffic will usually be quite low; it's just not as popular a game as Texas Hold'em.
Having a few sites open means you can effectively "multi-table" Razz games and optimize your potential to earn profit.
9 - Try Cash Games and Tournaments
Good poker sites should have micro-stakes Razz games in Limit cash games, Sit 'n' Gos or tournaments, and possibly all three.
Start off with cash games, but don't be afraid to try out a few SNGs and MTTs to test your skills out at different formats.
10 - Review Your Hands Regularly
As with all online poker variants, it's important to go back and review sessions after you've finished playing.
All good sites have an in-built hand replayer so that you can assess old hands and see where you went wrong (or right!). As you see so many more hands in online poker, your learning curve will always be higher than live players, so use everything to your advantage.
Essential Play-Money Practise
The great thing about Razz online is that you can find lots of play-money tables at sites.
Always remember the rule of play-money online poker: players will be betting with all sorts of garbage as there's no risk.
But play-money tables are great for getting used to nuances like the bring-in, Limit betting, and the system of being dealt down and up-cards.
Once you've become comfortable with the free-play games, or won a little cash at play-money freerolls, you can load up your real-money account with a bit of cash and try your luck at the micro-stakes Razz cash games.