Tuesday, December 12, 2006

Hot Hand #11 -- Blogger Razz

OK today I'm back with the newest Hot Hand post, and this one, in response to numerous reader complaints requests, will be all about Razz. One of my top few poker variations to play for cash, I first played razz two or three years ago in a regular homegame I was playing in in the city at the time, and quickly got addicted. Then I learned to hate the game, as almost anyone who plays enough razz will experience. Eventually, I have come to a good place in my relationship with razz. Well, a fairly good place at least. Nowadays, I can play a razz tournament and not go crazy, most of the time, and can even remain calm and patient enough to take the thing down with a little bit of luck. I can play razz cash for hours some nights and hold my own at any level I've played at so far (as high as 20-40 on occasion). This Hot Hand post will show some of my best thoughts and guidelines for how I play razz, a game which has been highly profitable for me overall during my online poker career.

So, for this hand we're actually in the Mookie 2nd chance tournament from last week, which was a really fun setup of Turbo Razz. So the junk-kickings can come even faster and more furiously than usual. I am sitting in middle position, and I've been dealt the granddaddy of all starting razz hands -- A23. With a 2 showing, which is the lowest of all the upcards on 3rd street, I go ahead and complete the bet to 40 chips after only Tina has limped in for 10 so far:

This was an easy raise for me. Often times I find deception on the early rounds in razz to be tremendously helpful in inducing more significant calls (and even raises) on the later rounds when the bets are bigger. But, in this case, as I have the lowest upcard to start the hand, I will almost always bet or raise with no other raisers yet in the pot when I am the low man on 3rd street and where I actually hold 3 low cards to start.

After my raise, Budohorseman smooth called me with his 6 showing, and then Tina re-popped it again with her 4-up, this time to 80 chips. So here, I'm holding A23, the single greatest possible starting hand in razz, and I've raised it on third street and now I've been reraised by someone holding a 4 upcard, higher than all three of my cards to start. But there is no way Tina can know this.

What do you do here? Obviously folding is out of the question. But do I smooth call, and hope to make more bets later on when I can see how my hand develops first and the bets are double? Or, should I re-reraise here, and push things as hard as I can while I know I am the favorite at this point in the hand?

Let me know your thoughts, and I'll be back tomorrow with the next post on Hot Hand #11.

By the way, congratulations to manik79, who won the Mondays at the Hoy tournament last night in his very first time playing in this event. Manik did a great job outlasting drraz in a fairly short bout of heads-up play for his first Hoy title in his first appearance in the MATH. Congratulations, and hope to have you back next week to defend your title as only the second back-to-back Hoy winner.


Blogger manik79 said...

Thanks Hammer! I'll be there next week for sure. Back to Back is the only way I roll.

12:21 AM  
Blogger Pokerwolf said...

I'd go for the re-raise here. Nobody knows how good your hand is here (you could be pushing with a (87)2, for example). Tina likes her hand and, if you're lucky, Budohorseman has something that he'll "just call one more bet to see the next card" with as well.

Razz is too unpredictable to slowplay. Get your money in with the best of it before you possibly catch runner-runner bricks. You have the best hand now, so get as much in the pot as possible.

1:09 AM  
Blogger David Westbay said...

My read would be that Tina has a good but not great hand, and is trying to thin the field with her raise. Given the strength of your hand, you should be able to just call here and see what the next street does to both hands, plus Budo's if he also calls.

1:11 AM  
Blogger Tommy said...

You need to raise in an attempt to drive Bud out of the pot. The less people drawing out against you, the better.

1:13 AM  
Blogger smokkee said...

go ALL-IN!

oh ya, you can't do that. so much for clearing out the field.

"raise, call, call..."

1:23 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I'm with Wolf. There's already T226 in the pot before your action, this has the makings of a pretty large pot. I'd try to take control of the hand while you KNOW that you're ahead. Plus, you want to get HU as quickly as possible - too many bad things can happen in multi-way Razz pots, and quickly.

That said, I also think that she has a strong hand, something like 3-to-the-wheel like Mike said, or maybe something like A6 or 26 underneath. The limp-reraise with the second-best door card, to me, means that she thinks she has the best hand so far. Or maybe she thinks your completing is just a scare/steal attempt by you... A reraise on top would (hopefully) make her realize that she's not ahead in the hand, or at least make her start to doubt a bit, but she'll probably still call to see the next street since her hand is strong.

I reraise and see what 4th street brings, and act accordingly. If I'm still board-lock low, I bet strong and make her react to me.

1:39 AM  
Blogger Mondogarage said...

I agree with pokerwolf, slowplaying this game is a crapshoot.

Oddly enough, I was in the exact same position on Sunday, in a FTP HORSE MTT ($5+.50 or $10+1, I forget which), and had (A2)3, with one player having (xx)5 and another (xx)6. I completed, the (xx)6 raised. I got cute and slowplayed, sure I had the best hand, and did the same thing on 4th when I had (A2)34. Unfortunately, the last three streets were 8J(3), and I got stuck with an 8 high. The (xx)6 drew out to a rough 7...I think it was 7653A.

The moral of the story is, I was way ahead, and if I re-raise on 3rd street, I'm sure both call. But if I follow that up with a bet or a raise on 4th street, the rough 7 probably leaves. Given how this was level 8 of the tourney, and I was in top 10% of chips at the time, it was probably the difference between me cashing, and the fact I finished a few spots short of the bubble.

In any kind of limit stud type drawing game, I think it's imperative to get the most money you can in the pot when you have the stone cold nuts at the time. You can always re-evaluate later, but invariably, if you give someone cheap (or free) cards to catch up with, you will be caught. This strategy may lower the +EV of a given hand, but it should significantly lower the suckout quotient.

Anyway, methinks I'll actually be in the HOY next week, surely donking off chips to someone.

1:39 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

i would say teach me how to play razz first then i will comment...in my opinion since i know nothing about razz i would just call since u said ur self disguse ur hand so u can extract bets later....

1:49 AM  
Blogger jjok said...

I am such a pansy when it comes to limit games, especially razz games. I'm sure my comment will be the posterchild for not enough chip extraction

The glaring difference between Razz and Holdem is that your hand can get worse in Razz, whereas in Holdem it can't. If I have pocket Aces in Holdem, I will always have pocket aces......whereas in Razz a hand like A23 can become a nightmare within 2 cards........hence I don't like to be aggressive "pre-fourth".

This fact that you would be bringing along a third person is cause for concern, and that would be my lone and only reason to reraise.

You're A23 is the best hand, but any dealt hand in razz is vulnerable.....ANY. With one card, you can be behind in the hand.......so why not wait until after 4th. What's the point of pumping the pot when you are still needing 2 cards????

Let's say 4th brings you a 6, then start pumping the pot as much as you can knowing that you have 3 cards coming and fantastic odds to hit. Plus, by not raising pre-fourth, your hand is very well disguised.......added bonus......


Now if this is later on in the tournament and you are a short or medium stack, I might go balls to walls right then and there and bet-reraise every street unless my hand falls apart........

2:41 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I'm with tommy. Re-raise to get Bud out of the pot. Pray for less than three bricks.

4:28 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

one more thing. this is just me, but I think Tina's re-raise here is bad move. all a re-raise here will do is get more chips in the pot. with a total of three now in the pot, and only three cards played, you have no idea how good this hand will turn out to be. consecutive bricks on 4th and 5th are possible so with three or more in the pot I prefer to wait until after 4th or even 5th to re-raise.

4:34 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

It's limit, so I say get sa much money into the pot as possible when you know you've got someone beat.

5:27 AM  
Blogger Jordan said...

I'm very interested to hear what you have to say, Hoy, since I'm a Razz aficionado too. I have a lot of confidence in my game, and I think there is only one way to play this optimally, so that is really why I'm so curious as to your thoughts. I can already tell we have different philosophies.

I'd raise without a doubt, and keep raising until the cows come home. You are ahead. That's all you need to know. Get bets in now, while you can. If the next card is a K and K for your opponents and you get a 4, the hand will be over then, and you WANT it to be over as soon as possible. If you get a K and they both get low cards, you can still stand to call a bet since you started so strong. The raise here does nothing but get more money in the pot while you are ahead, which is optimal in Razz.

On another note, Budho will probably call no matter what. It's just the nature of the beast. Rarely will a player call a raise but not a re-raise, and while a re-re-raise might be scary, most players will think it is limit, so they can afford to see one more card in a drawing game like Razz, under the rationale that two bad cards for his opponents may be enough to win it outright on fourth or fifth street.

6:01 AM  
Blogger Jordan said...

Also, what is the upside to flat calling? Are you protecting yourself from losing more when you fall behind? Why? You are still ahead and there is no reason to be scared.

Are you inducing more action later with deception? Why? Most players will be too focused on your board, so they'll be no deception if you proceed to hit a bunch of low cards, and likewise, none if you start to brick out.

6:03 AM  
Blogger jeciimd said...

I like the smooth call; its still early, tina obviously likes her hand, maybe budo does too; the ideal situation would be if the two of them keep betting you can just ride along knowing exactly where u are in the hand;
no if u flop trips....thats a totally different problem altogether

6:57 AM  
Blogger Tommy said...

There are a lot of people saying you should raise to "get as much money into the pot as you can while you're ahead".

That's the right move for the wrong reason. In pretty much all variants of stud, you bet to control your opponents, not the pot size (unless controlling the pot size allows you to control your opponenets later).

You raise here, but you're speciffically raising to drive Bud out, not to get money in.

Double true in Razz, where having the lowest hand does NOT mean that you are ahead.

10:12 AM  
Blogger Tommy said...

Let me back up what I just posted with a link.


It is hard to correctly figure out where you stand without knowing what the missing door cards are, but with only the information present, Tina just needs a 62 in the hole for you to be behind here. A23 isn't always the stone cold nuts.

The door cards are critical to 3rd street play in Razz. In fact, that's why I love all variants of Stud... more information that so few people make use of.

10:55 AM  

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