Just A Few Things When Playing Razz by Jennifer Harman

The rules:

For those of you who aren’t familiar with Razz, it is a game played like 7-card stud. The twist is that in Razz, the worst hand wins. Straights and flushes don’t count for anything, but pairs are bad. Aces are always low cards. A five-high (or wheel — remember that straights don’t count against you) is the worst — or I should say the best — possible hand for this game. A-2-3-4-5.

Starting hands:

When playing this game, it’s important that you start with 3 little cards. You shouldn’t play with any card bigger than an eight in your hand. But there are two exceptions to this rule.

1. You have a nine showing when the hand is dealt, everyone else’s up card is bigger than a nine, and you have two low cards in the hole. In this case, you have the best starting hand.

2. You are in steal position with a baby showing, and the remaining player (or even the remaining two players) has a big card showing. You can often raise in this spot to steal the antes regardless of what your hole cards are. If somearticle calls, you hope that their next card (fourth street) is a big card and yours is a baby. If your opponent catches a baby and you catch big, you should let it go. There’s no point in continuing with the bluff.

Tracking cards:

Are your cards dead? This is another important thing to know when playing Razz. What do I mean by ‘dead card’? A dead card is a card that is no longer in the deck. You know this because you have seen it in someone else’s hand. Keeping track of the dead cards allows you to know how many of the remaining cards can hurt you, and how many will improve your hand. For example: your first three cards are 2-5-8. There are seven other players in the game, and their upcards are: 2, 5, 8, 8, 2, 7, J. Remember that pairs are bad in Razz. Fortunately, many of the cards that will pair you are in other players’ hands, or ‘dead’. Now suppose your opponent is holding 7-3-A. He needs a lot of the cards that are on the board (dead) to make his hand. The cards you need to make your hand are still available. In this situation, you are a little more than a 56% favorite. By tracking cards, you can more accurately make decisions based on your real equity at any given time.

Jennifer Harman