Category Archives: Razz Poker

Using strategy in razz poker tournaments

Tournaments are much different than regular ring games and so is the strategy. I wrote a few detailed guides about razz poker tournament strategy guide and strategy for razz poker sit and go games but I will go through a short summary of these here on the blog. Basically, a sit and go tournament works much the same way as a regular tournament. The only difference is that sit and go tourneys are inherently smaller scale contests while a regular tournament may accept 10,000 players or even more than 100,000 at a single time as you will find at Pokerstars. Also, regular tournaments start at a scheduled date and time whereas a sit and go starts immediately once the require number of people have registered and joined the event.

This page is about razz strategy when playing in these tournaments. The first thing you will notice is the very aggressive and reckless players betting away everything they have. One of the strategies you should do at the beginning of the round is to become a tight player and let these other reckless players drop out like flies for awhile. This happens in every single tournament where tons of people will drop out within the first few minutes of the game.

After about a half hour or so, many of the weak players are gone and players are warmed up and ready to loosen up a bit. Now there are two main goals in a tournament and the most important one is to make it to the bubble, which is where you “make it into the money”. Usually a tournament might pay out money to the top 100 people in a 1000 player tournament or so. This top 100 places is known as the bubble and these players will win enough money to recover their buy-in costs plus a small profit. The top 75 players may win twice as much money and the higher up you climb in the ladder, the more money you make.

So in razz poker or in any other type of poker tournament, the strategy is to become more conservative as you near the bubble. Tables will run extremely slowly as everyone wants to hang around long enough to make it into the money, then you can lose and still profit a little. It is always good to play when you have nothing to lose. A few things to take advantage of during this time of the game is to bluff and be more aggressive. Players are more concerned about not taking risks and risking being kicked out right before reaching the bubble, so they will fold. The goal is to steal the antes and blinds much easier. Note that you should do this when you have a decent amount of chips. If you have a short stack, the larger players will purposely attack you in order to “push you off the hill” and get closer to the bubble.

Once you reach the bubble, players obviously become much looser since they all make guaranteed money. You should still stay conservative and make it higher up the ladder once people become loose. There will be many players hanging on by a thread trying to get into the bubble and many of them will suddenly drop out soon after.

Eventually, you should make it to the final table. If you are playing razz and make it to the table in a large tournament, that is an impressive and amazing feat, specially if there are 10,000 players. I’ve done this before and it took over 5 hours to do! When you get to the final table, you will want to call only when you get the wheel cards (A-2-3-4-5) as starting hands. Be conservative until more people drop out. If you are losing and do not have many chips left, wait until you get these powerful hands and attack aggressively. Again, if the table is really tight and you are the chip leader, it might be wise to bluff and steal the antes. It just depends on what kind of players are there.

Once players drop out and you are nearly heads up, it may be wise to start bluffing again. Your chances of winning hands are best when there are fewer people playing. If there are tight players, keep being aggressive but not all the time though in case they finally do get that good hand. In a heads up situation, even sub-par starting hands and final hands can be good since there are only two people and the chances are higher that no one has a good hand. This happens a lot during heads up where people can become much looser. Still, you should stay smart and at least get some kind of hand before betting a ton of money. In the end, both players are going to win big.

Playing razz poker when being dealt pairs of cards

One of the worst things that can happen to a player in razz is for them to get a pair of some card, three of a kind, four of a kind or full house. This blog post will give a few details in summary of my article about how to play with pairs in razz poker. We all know that if you are dealt a pair in razz, they do not count. You have to discount one of the pairs or essentially throw it out of the game. For instance, if you are dealt a starting hand of K-K-A, then you have a pair of kings and one of them doesn’t count, so you only have a 2 card hand of K-A instead.

There are a few strategies you can do when you are dealt a pair or if someone else does. The worst possible scenario is when you have a pair showing on your open cards or the ones facing up so everyone can see. It is even worse if you are attempting to bluff and have put in big money into the pot because everyone knows pairs are terrible. Usually they will attack that and raise a lot of money in order to get you to fold. You can also use the same strategy and many experts recommend doing this as well, especially if there are two pairs or multiple pairs.

If the pair is concealed, straight bluffing might be best to your advantage only if you have a very low door card and the other players have fair cards facing up. The reason is that you should always ignore your concealed hole cards (the ones that only you can see) when bluffing. For instance, you might have a hand like K-K-A with the ace facing up, but everyone else might assume you have other very low “wheel” cards that make up the most powerful hand of A-2-3-4-5. This is straight bluffing and it is especially risky to do if you stay in too long, but it is great for cutting the number of players down early and stealing the antes.

Check out the article mentioned above for the entire step by step guide on how to deal with pairs.

When and how to bluff in razz poker

Bluffing is actually a pretty big deal in razz because the game has the property of high variance. I will write a little bit about bluffing in razz poker and you can read the full detailed guide in my article about how to bluff when playing razz poker. Players who are involved in a game with high variance will want to knock players out early in the game. The reason is because razz poker deals out 7 cards and you need to make a 5 card hand. Each player’s hand will vary by a lot and it is likely that they will come up with some type of good hand with that many cards being dealt.

Also, there is a strategy that players need to take advantage of when bluffing and that is to steal the pot or take the antes and bring-in bet as well to beef up your own chip stack. Players are more likely to fold when you bluff right after being dealt the starting 3 card hand because there are 5 rounds of betting and the pot usually grows by a lot. That means players are less likely to be committed to wagering this much money unless they have a decent hand.

Also, you do not want chasers to stay in either since high variance properties of razz poker will allow for these chasers to finally catch the hand that they are chasing and end up winning the whole pot, even if they started with a poor hand. So one of the main points of straight bluffing at the beginning of a hand is to knock out these players early by raising. You should have a low and powerful door card showing as well in order to make your bluff more relevant and convincing and other players should have high and weaker door cards.

The goal in any hand of razz is to get the fewest number of competitors on the table, ideally heads up with one other player or just to have them all fold. Your odds are pretty much 50/50 if you knock out everyone except one player. If there are 6 people playing with a good chance of all of them making decent hands, your odds are 1 in 6 of winning. 50/50 is much better odds to play with considering your opponent may have a hand that looks like it might be powerful but it actually isn’t.

Later in the round, you will want to semi-bluff because many players will usually call the bluff after they have invested so much money into the pot so far. Semi-bluffing should be done on 5th street or later on after you have a 5 card hand. Note that on 5th street, the blinds get doubled from what they were on 3rd and 4th street so this is also a time for players to fold before the money starts getting much bigger, so keep this in mind as well.

Part 4 – Advanced guide to razz poker expert strategy

This is the last part of the 4 part strategy guide to razz poker. Check out the in-depth detailed article about advanced razz poker strategy for the informative strategy. I will write a basic run down of the strategy here in this post. Yesterday, we talked about different kinds of bluffing and when to really use the bluffs. Today we will talk about 4 common types of players you will come across and how to use advanced strategy to take advantage of each type of player.

There are four main types of players:

Tight and Aggressive

Tight and Passive

Loose and Aggressive

Loose and Passive

In short, the tight and aggressive player is very easy to spot. Tight players are conservative and tend to fold often but aggressive players tend to go all-in or raise when they get something good. So if you see a player folding on every hand and then suddenly raising like crazy, then you know that this is a player of the first type. The strategy with these players is to bluff more often and steal the antes early in the game since they will usually fold. If they suddenly start betting aggressively, this means they finally got their powerful hand that they have been waiting for, so it is wise to fold during this time.

The tight and passive player is harder to detect. They will usually fold often but when they get something good, they will just call your bets without raising aggressively. Watch these players to see how often they fold. If they fold often but then suddenly start calling your bets, they may be trying to slow-play their powerful cards and draw more money out of you so be cautious. Passive players tend to be more advanced and experts like to use the passive strategy often.

The loose player who is aggressive is another easy one to spot. They will usually bet money on every hand and call often, but they will become aggressive once they get something good. The strategy here is to not try bluffing them often because they are loose and will probably call your bluff. If the become aggressive, watch out because they will usually have the strong hand.

The loose and passive player is indisputably the most dangerous. They bet on every hand and will call all the bets, but they will not become aggressive when they get a killer razz poker hand. They will slow-play their powerful hand until the end and will usually draw out lots of money from other players at the same time. Again, restrain your bluffing and play tight with these kinds of players since they tend to be the most advanced.

Experts tend to use a combination of these player types in order to throw their opponents and competitors off their game. What I would recommend is tagging a note to each player and write down what kind of strategy they use. This way if you come across them in the future, you can remember their ways and take advantage of their playing style to win more money.

Part 3 – The intermediate strategy guide to razz poker

Yesterday I talked about the beginners guide to razz poker. Today I am going to go through a short version of the intermediate guide to razz poker and go through some of the mid-level topics that are important to razz. You should be comfortable and pretty well versed in the rules of the game and experienced with some basic bluffing by now as well as reading players more easily. This guide will go through more intermediate and advanced methods of bluffing.

There are two types of bluffing known as straight bluffs and semi-bluffs. Both of these are generally used only during certain parts of a hand. Straight bluffing is essentially used most effectively at the beginning of the hand after players have been dealt their starting hand. You need to take advantage of the door cards on the table. Straight bluffs actually means that you are bluffing but would surely lose the hand if someone called your bluff. So on a 3 card hand, everyone knows that you do not have a full 5 card hand obviously and this would count as a straight bluff.

Players are supposed to get the impression that you have 2 powerful hole cards with that powerful door card. In fact, you might have K-K-A with the ace showing, which would be a horrible hand, but no one knows about the kinds so ignore all of your hole cards when bluffing. If everyone else has higher door cards, then raise and try bluffing.

Later on, semi-bluffing becomes more effective after you have 5 cards dealt already. More players will be less willing to fold to a bluff after they have committed so much money to the pot after 4 or 5 rounds of betting, so a semi-bluff is much smarter than a straight bluff. In a semi-bluff, you should have at least a decent hand or be chasing a likely good hand. That way if a showdown occurs, you still have a chance of winning. If other players do not call your bluff, then you win the hand anyways without a showdown. Use semi-bluffs on 5th, 6th and 7th street.

There is much more to this intermediate guide when you read the article in the link above so I encourage you to read the full details there. I will write about the final advanced guide tomorrow along with the expert’s article.

Part 2 – The beginners guide to razz poker strategy

Continuing from yesterday, I will write a basic version of razz poker beginners strategy and continue the second part of the strategy guide. This guide is intended for novices and beginners who are just learning razz poker or have never played it before. This information will go through a few basic things you should learn in order to get good at razz strategy before moving on to the intermediate and advanced guides.

I wrote a detailed guide in the link to the article above but I will go through the same thing in shorter words. Beginners should read the rules and learn how to play the game by reading the articles in the link above. Basically, you are trying to make the lowest 5 card hand out of 7 cards possible. If you have played 7 card stud played for the lower pot, then this game is essentially the same thing. A-2-3-4-5 is the lowest and strongest possible hand in razz and this is your goal.

Straights and flushes do not count for anything in the game so you can ignore those. You should pay attention to pairs though because these are always damaging and you must throw out an extra matching cards as you can only count one. The dealer will deal out 3 cards at the beginning after everyone has paid the ante. Two are face down and one is face up, known as the door card. Whoever has the highest door card, which is also the weakest, must be the first to bring in action by making a bring-in bet.

Now the beginners strategy should focus on the door cards on the starting hand. This card is facing up for everyone to see and this becomes an important aspect to take advantage of. If you have an ace or a 2 showing, you should raise the pot because these are strong. If you have a 3 through 7, just call. If you have anything higher, it might just be wise to fold.

There is a little bit of bluffing you can do as well. Remember, do not bluff on every single hand or else everyone will get used to it. The first thing in bluffing is to ignore the 2 hole cards in your starting hand (the cards facing down that only you can see). Make sure your door card is strong with an ace or 2 and make sure everyone else has high door cards before bluffing. Since a lot of money needs to be invested through 5 rounds of betting in razz, more people are likely to fold if you raise really early with an ace showing for example. This is a great way to steal the antes as well, but make sure everyone else has weaker cards showing.

For the rest of the game, watch 4th, 5th and 6th street or the 3 next cards to be dealt that are open or facing up for the table to see. If players get a pair showing, this is very bad and you should attack the heck out of that and become aggressive, especially if the rest of their cards are low. There is a great chance they will fold in this situation and you can take the pot. You do not want to keep too many players so late into the game since they might actually get a great hand after being dealt 7 cards, even with a pair.

So the main goal as a beginner is just become more comfortable with the rules and learn how to bluff better. Focus on door cards and watching what players have with their face up open cards.

Part 1 – A few basics of razz poker strategy

I am going to write a basic 4 part guide to general razz poker strategy over the next few days that will include an beginners, intermediate and advanced guide to strategy. There are a few basic things that players should keep in mind, particularly about razz poker. Razz is a game that is not as well known as many other poker games. Just this fact alone suggests that there will be fewer people to play against in poker rooms.

When there are fewer people in play, then you can get to know certain players better and write notes on them. By doing this, you can keep track of different kinds of players over a long time and take advantage of various player times to become more profitable in the long term. Also, there are many inexperienced players that are just trying out razz poker to see what the game is like and this is another profitable advantage if you use this fact in your strategy.

One of the main strategies that you will learn in razz poker is to steal the pot and get players out of the game quickly. The reason behind this strategy is the fact that razz poker is a game of high variance. Because players are dealt 7 cards, there is a higher chance of them getting a decent hand by the end of the round. You are less likely to win if there are many players during the last round of betting before the showdown. Also, you can take advantage of the fact that 5 rounds of betting usually requires a lot of money to be invested into the pot and many players do not want to commit to doing this after only a 3 card starting hand.

So the goal is to bluff and steal the antes and bring-in bet early in the game. Keep out the “chasers” who are trying to get to the end without betting much and catching a powerful hand later on. This high variance property of razz ensures a high probability that these chasers will “catch” their high ranking hand. So get these players out early on 3rd street (when the 3 cards are dealt on the starting hand) either by bluffing or raising them. You will find that the strategies will mostly all revolve around these concepts.

Why it is good to practice razz poker for free online

Yesterday I talked a little bit about PokerStars and the games there. In addition, I noticed that Carbonpoker room has some razz tables that actually go up to $1000/$2000 stakes. Now for practicing the game, both places offer free chips or “play money” to use on free tables. This is actually an excellent way to practice the game with no risks of losing money and I would highly recommend doing this if you are learning how to play razz.

So when you practice razz poker, all you need to do is find any room that is using play money. Typically, there will be about 6 players in each room and the game is more casual. There are a few warnings that you should know about if you are going to seriously practice the game as a way to build experience and skill in razz.

The first thing to watch out for is the fact that many people in these “fake” rooms will not be playing as seriously as they would be with real money. So bluffing and other strategies will be irrelevant since players will just call your bets to see what happens in the end. This really isn’t effective practice because no one is really taking the game seriously. Although, these rooms are perfect if you are just learning the basics of the game, the rules and how to play.

If you already know the basics and want to get good at strategy and bluffing, then I would recommend moving to the micro-limit stakes in the $0.04/$0.08 rooms. These are the lowest money limits available at pokerstars.com. When there is real money at play, even small stakes, about 90% of the players will become serious and you will start learning some actual razz poker skills. Obviously, the higher the stakes get, the tighter players become and the more serious the game starts to be played. These are just a few things you should keep in mind as you begin practice exercises.

Playing razz poker online at PokerStars.com

We all known that Carbon Poker is one of the best online poker rooms to play razz. One of the number one reasons why is because there is simply a large number of other players available to play this game with. Unlike the famous Texas holdem game, razz is nowhere near as popular even though it has been played for decades at the WSOP and there is a major main event for razz each year as well.

In case you were wondering, there is about 200 players for razz on an average day, but often times it will jump up to a few thousand during certain parts of the day when people are not at work and can play online. This is particular true on the weekends and holidays as well. One thing that is common among all PokerStars and Full Tilt tables is that razz poker games are fixed limit. This is the only table variation available at the moment, but some have claimed that no limit tables are also available when things get busy.

Players can play free stakes with play money and practice the game for free as well. The most common stakes is $0.04/$0.08 which would be considered micro-limit. The reason you will not see $0.01/$0.02 stakes except during special circumstances is because the antes and bring-in bets need to be some ratio of the small blind or $0.04. It would be hard to divide fractions of $0.01 so you will rarely see this kind of table.

On the high end stakes is the very high limit $100/$200 room as well, which is fixed limit of course. In between, you will see these kinds of limits as well:

$0.10/$0.20

$0.25/$.50

$0.50/$1

$1/$2

$2/$4

$3/$6

$5/$10

$10/$20

$30/$60

So there is a very large variety of table to play at. Many people enjoy trying to start off at the bottom, earn some certain goal or “conquer” the table limit and level up to a higher limit before eventually making it to the $100/$200 tables. It does take some time but it is not unusual for players to actually do this. Note that these are just the casual ring-table or cash games. There are also many tournaments with buy-ins that range from as low as $1 to $1000. The same goes for sit and go tournaments as well, so PokerStars is like a nice playground for razz poker players and there is a ton of stuff. Check them out if you haven’t already.

How to determine if razz poker starting hands are good

This post will continue on with the discussion yesterday about good hand rankings and we will talk about determining good razz poker starting hands. This is actually an important topic to learn because there are some guidelines that players should use to determine what types of starting hands are good and which ones are fair. I will go through each of the four different classifications of each hand and a few examples of what would be good to continue playing on. Note that the starting hand is dealt after each player as paid the ante bet. Two cards will be facing down so only you can see them and one card will be facing up so everyone else can see it, known as the door card.

Excellent starting hands are those which contain the wheel card numbers or numbers that make up the most powerful hand in razz poker. These would be the cards such as A-2-3-4-5. You want all three of these cards to contain one of these numbers but you do not want pairs of these numbers as I explained yesterday.

Good hands are the same as excellent varieties of cards, except the highest card would be a 6 and two others would be lower. Fair hands are the same as good or excellent starting hands except the highest cards would be 7 or 8. Having a 7 high would be much more favorable to have instead.

Finally, the poor hands are those which have a high card of 9 or higher. The general razz strategy is to fold on any poor starting hands such as 7-8-9 or something like that. In many cases, A-2-9 would be considered a poor starting hand even though the A-2 part would be excellent on it’s own. The choice to call the bring-in with this hand depends on how aggressive the other players are and whether the ace or nine is showing to everyone else. If the ace is showing, you can use a bluffing strategy but I will write about that another day.