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Razz Poker Starting Hand Requirements

Starting Hands in Razz Poker - DoorCards, UpCards, Stealing Antes

Razz Poker is another 7-card Stud based game also known as Stud low. The goal here is for players to try to get the lowest 5-card poker hand with A to 5, otherwise known as a 'wheel,' being the best hand. Straights and flushes do not have any effect on the value of a player's hand.

To make it even more interesting, 'up' cards are dealt on 3rd through 6th street where players can try to get some info, or lack thereof, on the possible holdings of their opponents. Using the information they gather, they will determine if their hand is good enough to continue with in the hand. Razz Poker sure seems simple, right? Just try to draw and have the lowest hand possible by 7th street.

Well, it may seem that way. But many times players start playing Razz only to find out it is not as easy as they first may have thought. They tend to start with bad cards, chase draws, and completely over look their door cards or their opponent's door cards. To try to help those of you that are interested in learning how to play better Razz Poker while avoiding some of the common pitfalls we listed above, please continue reading our Razz Poker tips where we will discuss a few basic fundamentals to keep in mind and a few strategies to try.

Starting Hands in Razz Poker

Starting hands are the most critical fundamental to learn in any poker game. In Razz, the best hands to start with are any 3-wheel cards such as A, 2, 3, 4, and 5 with A, 2, 3 being the best. What newer players will want to try to avoid is playing mediocre starting hands such as cards 6, 7, 8, 9 or similar as these hands are easily beaten. Just as important is not starting with hands that have a face card in them. While playing 2, 3, J may arguably be ok to play depending on the card in the door and the situation at the table, hands such as 6, 8, J is not worth your time. 

Starting hands simply lay the foundation for the rest of your hand and the more solid the hands you start with, the easier the decisions are on later streets.

Razz Poker Door Cards

For those that do not know, door cards are the 'up' cards on 3rd street. Using these cards is crucial to a player's success as several bits of information can be gathered. The first thing that a player will want to look for is how many outs or 'live' cards they have. Live cards are cards that are to the best of your knowledge still in play (in the deck) for you to catch. Cards that are not outs are referred to as 'dead' cards. For example, if a player were to have 3-4-[5] and all of their opponents had 2's and A's in their doors, the player would then know that the likelihood of drawing to a wheel is slim to none. This may not keep a player from going to 4th or 5th street, but may affect whether or not they finish the hand or not.

Using Door Cards to Steal Antes

Aside from information, door cards can also be used to try to attempt a steal of the antes. For example, there are times where it may be folded to you and you can have a hand such as K-5-[A] and it may be profitable to put in a raise to try to take the antes. The hand itself is not very good, but all your opponents can see is the ace in the door. If used sparingly, it is possible to make several raises with low wheel cards in the door regardless of the hidden cards. 

Razz Poker Up Cards

It is very important to keep track of these 'up' cards on all streets for similar reasons while on 3rd street. What you want to pay attention to is the hands that may be possible for your opponent to draw to and how it compares to yours. And furthermore, you want to keep an eye out on live and dead cards to know what you can catch and what you cannot. Your hand is that much more valuable if your opponents share some of the same cards as you since this will mean that you will not have to worry about devaluing your hand by pairing one of your cards.

Similarly to using door cards to bluff, it is also possible to do so using your door cards regardless of what you may have hidden. If you have K-9-[A]-4-2 and your opponent has x-x-[3]-5-6, it very well may be possible that your opponent has a better hand than you but with a raise, it is possible to get them to fold. This also holds true if they pair one of their up cards. More times often than not, they will fold their hand.

Slow Playing Hands in Razz

Since Razz is played in a fixed limit format, it is typically a very bad idea to slow play great starting hands or made hands, as players are sure to not get the maximum value. There may be exceptions to this rule such as facing maniac players or even low stakes players who are willing to pay to draw to a hand, but most times, it is important to bet when you have a hand to make the most money possible. And to further validate this point, you do not want to give free cards to your opponents either as they can potentially catch cards that can beat you.

Razz Poker can be a difficult game to learn, let alone master with a vast majority of Razz players not having a grasp on the simplest of Razz fundamentals, especially at lower stakes. By using some simple tips and strategies such as starting hands, knowing how to analyze door cards and up cards, and by running the occasional steal in the right situation, not only will you have a grasp on the fundamentals but also you should expect to be able to hold your own when playing Razz Poker.