Razz to some beginning players seems like a game more based in the realm of luck rather than skill. This is certainly not the case. In fact, skilled Razz players may have a larger advantage over unskilled players than in any other poker game. Here are some tips to improve your Razz game and extract max value in each street.
Bring In and Ante Stealing
A simple tip that is easy to implement is attacking the bring in and antes. Depending on your up card and the cards of your opponents, stealing can be automatic. You can often go after the bring in if you are first in and one of the last to act. Also, if you are the lowest up card you can often try and steal regardless of your other cards. These plays are especially valuable in late position against just the bring in or will very few opponents left to act.
The best possible starting hand in Razz is A-2-3, a hand that you should clearly be betting and raising with. A-2-4 is stronger than A-6-2, but there isn’t much of a difference (especially with many more cards to come) in value as both are very strong starting hands. In general, three cards up to a 7 are in most situations always playable. If you hold three cards up to an 8 it is also usually worth playing. Of course there are will be situations that you are stealing or you suspect a steal and you will have to open up your range. Defining each starting hand an absolute value is not a great way to learn the game, as you will need to evaluate your hands situationally.
The Up Cards of Your Opponents
In many situations the up cards of your opponents can dictate your play for you and make your decisions very easy. A key aspect to success in Razz is to look for duplicate cards among’st the community cards of your opponents. An A-3-4 unduplicated is close to even money against an 8-6-5 starting hand if there are eights and sixes already out. The up cards and duplicates make a huge difference in the value of your hand and some players commit too many bets in their early streets when their edges are nonexistent or very small. It is easy to be too aggressive or spewy in the earlier rounds.
However, aggression in the right spots can be very effective. Fold equity is an important factor in Razz, as sometimes your opponents up cards force them into decisions they don’t want to make. If your opponent is getting poor or paired door cards, you should consider betting into him even if your hand is in just as bad of shape.
Often times in Razz you will start off with a decent starting hand, miss your draws and you will find yourself facing commanding boards that leave you few chances to win. Unless you have a read that your opponent has been prone to bluff, it is usually best in most cases to fold. Betting your strong hands aggressively at later streets and knowing when to let go, is an integral part of being a successful Razz player.