Razz Poker Strategy
Razz poker is still not as popular and well known as games like Texas Holdem or Omaha. That means that there are probably weak competitors and poor poker players who do not use correct strategy. Also, there are not too many strategy guides available to find for razz online or in books because the game is still unknown to many people and it is not as mainstream. Although, this game is just like 7 card stud played for lo and you can find even more guides for that here on our site.
The first thing people should know is that some players believe razz poker to be more about a game of luck than strategy. Weak and inexperienced players can fall for this because it simply isn't true. Razz is almost exactly like 7 card stud, which is an ancient game in the realm of poker.
Now for the strategy. One way that players can really win money and take advantage of the game is by stealing the pot when it consists of bring-ins and antes. The reason why this can work is the fact that the average win rate is about 5 out of 100 big blind rounds. For example, if you are playing at a $1/$2 fixed limit razz table, then you would be winning $10 every $100 hands (5 x $2). If you steal the pot a few times, the average would be about $1.50 in antes and the bring-in, which would be a nice boost to your average. The goal of this strategy is not to steal all the time, but once in awhile to keep your bankroll in check or add more to your profits. Recall that stealing the pot means making massive raises or going all in if you are on a no-limit table, so this sometimes backfires when people call you and you should at least have a somewhat decent hand if you get stuck in the round.
Part of this strategy involves using your exposed up cards against other players. First find out if anyone has lower cards than yours. This is really the leverage you need to influence the other players so ignore your hole cards whether they are good or bad unless you plan on having someone call your bet. For example, if you have an ace showing and everyone else has cards higher than 8, this is a great time to steal the pot since many players probably do not want to commit to a sub-par hand and risk going against your ace. Let's say you had a pair of queens for your hole cards along with that ace. This just shows that your hole cards do not matter when taking the pot in razz poker.
Learning how to steal the pot is one of the most effective strategies to use. Always be thinking about stealing the pot on every hand, but do not actually do it on every hand unless you have some really tight players who fold easily. Just watch for the opportunities because it's all free money that people are willing to give up. It might not be very much money, which is also a reason why players are less reluctant to be committed to such a small pot, but it adds up in your bankroll quite nicely over time.
A huge portion of razz strategies involve reading the player and their cards. Another strategy is to be aggressive at certain times but not all the time. One tell that gives off a warning to become more aggressive is when a player has a pair showing since these can heavily damage a hand. You should also be watching their betting actions to try getting an idea of what their hole cards might be. For instance, if you have a low door card on 3rd street and you raise and the other person calls, then watch for 4th street. Let's assume the other player is first to act on 4th street and they get a low card.
If they just check and not bet anything, there is a chance that they landed a pair since the dealt card was low and they called (or perhaps re-raised) on the previous round, which indicates they are already holding some low card, which might have just been paired. This is a great indicator to attack and raise the heck out of the player. Although, they may be drawing you into a trap by slow playing it so be cautious. Basically, it just depends on what player you are playing against and what kind of actions they did in the past. Ask yourself if the player has slow played often before. Reading the player greatly ties into strategy. It works in real offline poker rooms as well as online ones. Pokerstars and Full Tilt will let you write notes and tag them onto players so you can remember them later on and use their strategy against them. It's a handy little feature to use for serious online strategy buffs.
One obvious strategy works brilliantly if you are playing online. Browse through the lobby and view which tables are razz poker games. Then check to see if some players are playing on multiple tables. If there are a lot of multi-table players, you can take advantage of them. These players usually do not take their time to play intelligently and you can take advantage of their lack of deep concentration on a single table. You can also steal the blinds a lot easier from these players as well. You can also get some good results by putting pressure on them when they get bad cards since they will give up more easily in order to continue concentrationg on playing their big money pot on the other tables. One of the main reasons these players play on multiple tables is to play more hands per hour in order to get more chances at the big pots when they finally get their powerful hand. That also shows that you should be playing on a single table to keep a deep level of concentration on all of the players, unless you become an expert player and can handle multiple tables quite well.
Always remember to play smart and not aggressive. As I have advised above, aggressiveness is one of the most powerful strategies and attributes to use only during particular times. Many newer and inexperienced players believe that going all-in or being aggressive on every single hand is good. While you might steal the blinds often, you will eventually get caught up against a conservative tight player with an unbeatable monster hand and will lose a ton of money. This is especially true if you haven't been paying attention or have read that particular tight player throughout the game to see that they would only play with a good hand.
One of my favorite strategies that I've learned time and time again is to not get angry and upset after losing a big hand. Many players, including myself, have fallen into this trap of frustration. I'm sure you have seen players go all-in or raise the heck out of the bets immediately after losing a huge hand with a ton of money. Almost everyone knows that this player is betting a ton of money because they are disgruntled and want to win big money. They also know this usually has nothing to do with how good the cards are and smart players can take advantage of the free money this way. So if you are frustrated and upset, do not go all-in and God forbid, do not go into a room with high limit stakes. Just leave the table, close up your poker table and browse the internet for awhile to cool off. This is a paramount strategy. This is also one way casinos make a ton of money as well! So don't fall into the trap.