Razz Poker Beginners Strategy Guide
If you are just learning how to play razz poker, then this page is for you to learn the basic strategy. We will try to provide a few vital beginners strategies that will help out you novices but also help out some of the experienced players who may not have come across any of these tips and pointers before. This guide will start off with a few simple tips and then you can move up to the intermediate and advanced strategy guides later on or if you are already familiar with razz.
New players are highly encouraged to view the basic guide links to the right side of the page to learn the rules and just the basics. Then download Pokerstars or Full Tilt if you havent already, so that you can open up the game and get some practice playing. Once you have done this, you should always start with the "play money", which are just practice chips that dont cost any money and then join a table. Now you have a sort of work bench to start learning all of the strategies.
If you didnt already know, Razz is basically the same thing as 7 card stud played for lo and the goal is to make the lowest hand possible, known as the wheel which consists of the cards A-2-3-4-5. Beginners and novices should note that the wheel is the most powerful hand in razz poker and your ultimate goal. Straights and flushes do not have any impact on the game since they neither benefit nor hurt you. The wheel is an ace-low straight, but the fact that it is a straight doesnt mean anything. In fact, A-2-3-4-6 is the second most powerful hand in the game.
All players must pay an ante before any cards have been dealt, then the dealer passes out 3 cards with two of them facing down and one facing up, known as the door card. The best starting hands to begin with are those numbers that make up the wheel (A-2-3-4-5). Ideally, you want everything lower than 7 since these are good. It turns out that if your door card is an ace (the card that everyone can see), you can manipulate your strategy by raising big to scare your opponents out of the game early and this aggressiveness is correct strategy only during this time, but do not do it all of the time as I will discuss later.
First look at your hand. If all of your cards are less than 7 or 8, then look at your door card. If the door is an ace or 2, raise. If it is between 3 and 7, then call any bets. Beginners should also be looking at what other players have as well. This will become important later on once you get more experienced in the game. If other players have powerful door hands, you may want to be careful especially during bluffing. If they have really high cards like queens and kings (which are the weakest in razz), then betting might discourage them from playing through 5 rounds of betting. You will find that stealing the blinds this way is part of the general strategy.
So far, you have been playing through 3rd street cards (3 cards dealt). Whoever has the weakest card must pay a bring-in fee to bring in the action and start the actual betting. This is the first thing that happens after you are dealt cards. After the first round of betting is complete, 4th street is dealt (the fourth card). At this point, you should have at least 3 cards that are lower than a smooth 8. In 5th street, you should have 4 cards equal to or lower than a 9.
One thing to remember on 5th street is that the rules make bets and raises double what they were in the previous four rounds. This is just part of the game and they stay double until the end of the hand. Since this is starting to get into big money, beginners should remember that if they dont have at least 4 cards below 9 at this point, they are not likely to win and would be advised to just fold if someone else is already betting big. That way you can save more of your money with this strategy.
If you are doing well, you should have a complete 5 card hand after 6th street. Remember that in razz poker, pairs are very bad, three of a kind are worse and four of a kind are worst. Players must essentially throw any card away that was dealt and matches any cards they are currently holding. So watch your opponents up cards to see if they have pairs, high cards and face cards. Remember, the first two cards you were dealt are face down so only you can see. 3rd, 4th, 5th and 6th street are facing up so everyone on the table can see. 7th street, the last card dealt, is facing down only for you to see.
A good guide to see if you can beat other players is to look at their up-cards and see if you can beat their third most highest cards. If you can, then you have a great chance of winning. After another round of betting is the showdown where the pot is awarded and a new hand is dealt. This basic beginners guide is concluded and once you have these simple basics down, then read the intermediate guide for razz.