Razz Tournament Poker Strategies
Players who have played any type of poker, including razz, will know that tournament strategy is different than ring game strategy. Sit and Go tournaments are similar to regular tournaments except that normal tourneys usually have hundreds or thousands of players. They also have a fixed time schedule so you have to show up at a certain time, similar to how the WSOP events work. Although, normal tournaments usually have massive winnings for a relatively small buy-in fee so learning razz strategy in tournaments is really important if you get serious about playing in one.
First, there are a few goals in a razz tournament to keep in mind. The main goal is to at least make it far enough into the game to make it to the "bubble" or qualify for some portion of the pot. By doing this, you will secure your buy-ins plus a little bit of profit without having to worry about losing money. The obvious goal is to win first place and the biggest portion of the prize by winning the whole tournament.
The first part of the strategy is to stay in the game as long as possible. It may even be a good idea to sit out for a few hands and wait for the bad players to drop out, or those players that go all-in on every single hand. Be conservative here because a ton of careless players drop out like flies. Only commit yourself to go forward after the bring in only if you have a powerful hand. If you are playing at a tight table, take advantage of bluffs to steal antes and blinds to build up your chip count a little more. The objective early in the game is to at least make it to the bubble and into the money, then you can become a little more loose when you literally have nothing to lose.
In razz or any other game, the strategy between the early rounds and the bubble is nearly the same. There will still be a few dangerous and reckless players in the game but most of them will be out by now, leaving lots of tight and smart players. A regular razz tournament of lets say 5,000 people might pay out money to the last 1,000 people left in the tourney. So your objective is to get into 1,000th place at least. It is always nice to have an average or large chip count and even sit out until enough people finally drop out. You will also notice that players will be too scared to take risks and they give up the antes and blinds rather than risk losing right outside the bubble. So keep this in mind with your bluffing strategy to take advantage of this and last a little longer. Even players with big chip counts will be reluctant to risk losing a lot of chips here.
After players have reached the bubble and everyone has some guaranteed profit, the table will loosen up again. The goal is still to make it as long as you can to win more profits and eventually become the winner. Again, competition will be very strong since nearly all of the players here are very good to last this long into a tournament. So many of them will also be very tight. If you have a lot of chips, take advantage of bluffing and taking more antes as well. Read what the other players are doing and ask if they are tight and aggressive or tight and passive. The same goes for loose players as well.
If you have actually outlasted thousands of players to make it to the final table of a razz poker tournament, then congratulations to you. Hopefully you are the chip leader and there is a ton of money in the pot. The strategy for final tables is to call bets and continue the hand if you get wheel cards (A-2-3-4-5), which are most powerful in razz and then fold on all the other hands. This will ensure the best chances of winning big and actually winning the entire tournament. If you have a low chip stack, try to last as long as possible for the perfect hand and then go all in, especially if you can only survive just a few more antes or bring-in bets. If you have a large chip stack, take advantage of stealing the pot and antes when everyone else is still being extremely tight.
One thing to remember is when you are really late in the final table and there are just a few players left, perhaps in a heads up situation, it is possible to win with barely anything good. When there are a small number of people left, it means less odds that they will get a great hand, so it might be worth betting even with a weak hand. So do not get too tight where you only stay in the hand with only the best cards possible because the other player will easily be able to tell when you finally get a good hand. You will see in many professional tournaments that players will call with any hand towards the end, not necessarily raising though. Either way, if you win or lose, you will come out ahead by a lot of money.