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Razzmanian Devil

Let's start off with a quick pic. You'll notice the rolled up 6s, not an ideal hand in Razz. Luckily, I took down the pot preflop with my signature hand and a simple bluff raise. Of course, I showed.

I made a nice run in the Riverchasers Razz freeroll last night, placing around 28/200+. Lately, I've made it fairly deep in a variety on online tournaments, only to self-destruct right before the finish line. I find it mildly annoying, but not much more than that. After all, I just rationalize that its online poker, and not the real thing (to me, at least).

As it goes, I really enjoying playing Razz online. I kept two hand histories worth reviewing, so pull up a chair and enjoy the show.

The blinds are 60/120, with a 10 ante and 20 bring-in in the Riverchasers freeroll. I have 1422, and Hoyazo, to my immediate left, has 1619. The cards are dealt, and I have 29/5, a marginal hand at best. The rest of the table, starting with Hoy and moving around, have 6, 9, T, 8, 8, A, and 9 (followed by my 5). I have the best door card, aside from the Ace. The Ten brings it in for 20, I complete to 60, and Hoy raises to 120. Everyone else folds. Hoy is smart, no doubt about that, but I'm willing to see one card. I call.

On 4th Street, I get a 7 and Hoy gets a K, for:

Me: 29/57
Hoy: XX/6K

In most instances, the player in Hoy's position is going to fold to a bet, but I have a feeling that Hoy will be willing to call. He knows the fickle nature of Razz, and he also likely sees me as an action player. He knows the K won't help him, but he probably has great cards underneath anyway, so he'll gamble for one bet. Of course, even if I thought he'd fold, I'd still bet here, but I only add this analysis because at the time, I was fairly confident he would call with a K showing. He obliges.

On 5th Street, I get a Q and he gets a 3, for:

Me: 29/57Q
Hoy: XX/6K3

I bet, because I'm still ahead. Hoy raises me. Okay. I call, mostly because, while I am still ahead, I'm also fairly confident that we are now merely betting on the next card. If he bricks, I'm in great shape, and vice versa. I don't want to raise the pot anymore because Hoy is a great player, and I don't need to throw more money in just yet.

On 6th Street, I get another Q, and he gets a Q as well.

Me: 29/57QQ
Hoy: XX/6K3Q

This is where it gets interesting for me. Essentially, we both have Queen-high hands. We are also both looking to hit a low card on the river. Truth be told, he is ahead, as I am drawing to a 9-high and he is probably drawing to a 8-high or lower. But once again, we are no longer betting on where we are, but rather, where we are going to be. I decide to bet. Hoy gets cute here and bets. I guess he figures his Queen is good for now, and while it probably is, I raise, mostly because I am willing to bet an extra 120 that I'll hit a better river than he is. That's all I'm thinking about here. Do I wish to put another 120 on the line to bet that I hit a better river? Sure, let's go for it.

On the river, I hit a 6. I don't know what Hoy has.

Me: 29/57QQ/6
Hoy: XX/6K3Q/X

Its a tricky spot to be in, so when Hoy bets, I check. I've already made my bet (on 6th Street) that my river would be better than his, and the 6 is nice, but its no Ace. At showdown, I win with a 97-high hand. His hole cards (which are randomized by FT when they are displayed) are K, 5, and Ace. Most likely, he started with the A5 and was ahead on 3rd street. He disregarded the K on 4th street because he had three great starting cards, and he may have figured me for one weak card in the hole. The 6th street emboldened him with a sweet 6-high draw. I was still ahead at the time, but he had great possibilities at improvement. Hence, his re-raise with a K showing. It was right there for both of us to see, and I'm fairly sure he probably had me read too. That's one of the things with Razz. Even though there are opportunities at deception, there are also hands that are just fairly obvious, especially when two logical players like Hoy and I are playing against each other. The 6th Street sorta screwed us both (albeit, he pulled ahead, but not by enough to be comfortable), but since we both knew that, we were ready and willing to go to the river to decide our fates. And then, I outdrew him. Hell, this whole hand ended up in a game of reverse War. He showed King (as his river) and I showed 6, and since we are playing reverse War, my lower card wins! Ka ching!

Now its time for the second hand. This will show more of the nuances of the game. Razz is a limit game, and in any limit game, the money is in the individual bets. If you can squeeze one other bet out of an otherwise folding player, those individual bets add up. On the flipside (although that will not be seen in this hand), if you can fold and save yourself one extra bet, those too will add up, and soon you'll be sitting on a nice profit.

The blind level is now 80/160 with a 15 ante and 25 bring-in. I have 1827, and BigJay, a player I have been smacking around for a while, is sitting on my immediate left with 1221. He has the Godfather avatar, and I can't help but associate that avatar with someone who is looking to show power, regardless of timing and nuance. Its an odd read, admittedly, and as with any avatar-based read, you have to play close attention that you are not fooling yourself, but his play seemed to support my hypothesis.

I am dealt 52/A, a beautiful hand. The rest of the table, from my left ending with BigJay, have 5, A, 5, Q, 2, 6, and 8 (BigJay).

Sneak, with the Queen, brings it in. It folds to BigJay, who calls the 25 with his 8 showing. I decide to raise it to 80, as I'm wont to do with any three 8-and-under cards. It folds around to Jay, who calls. I'm looking forward to this.

The 4th Street brings me an 8, and BigJay a 3.

Me: 52/A8
Jay: XX/83

I know I'm ahead, and I also know that Jay is slightly scared of me at this point from all of the prior abuse. I decide to check here, mostly because that is such a clear sign of weakness and with his 83 showing, I assume he'll bet out and try to take the pot right here. He obliges and bets 80, and I check-raise to 160. Plain and simple, we have a situation where one of two things are happening: (1) either he has an 8-high draw right now, in which case my draw is probably in better shape, considering his failure to raise preflop [i.e., he doesn't have A2/83, or even 24/83, so I'm dominating right now] or (2) he limped with a crappy card in the hole, called because its me and Razz, and now is betting almost automatically to win the pot right away. By checking, I induce the bet in either instance. If I had bet out, he would fold if he paired the 3 (for instance), and just call if he had something like a 9 underneath. Instead, I check-raise and then he is in the, "its just one more bet" mentality. He has to call, and he does.

On the turn, I'm dealt a 7 and he is dealt a Jack.

Me: 52/A87
Jay: XX/83J

Now I'm definitely ahead, but I don't want to check, because he'll just check behind and get a free card. I bet out and he folds, and I win the hand. If I didn't check-raise 4th street, I would've received one less bet. In my estimation, he likely had at least one crap card underneath, be it a 9, Ten, or 3 (pairing his otherwise "scary" looking 4th street. Sure, it would've been nice to earn more bets with my made 8-7, but if he had a 27 underneath and then drew an Ace, I'd be the one looking stupid. So, when I saw he was fishing, I tricked him into betting again and scared him by check-raising in a game where check-raising is not as common (at this level of play). Then, when he got his crap card, I drove the nail into his coffin by betting him out of the hand. If I had KK underneath, the play would've worked just the same. Ka ching!

After the tournament, it got me thinking that Razz is really only accessible to me via online poker. I may just go back to the Razz cash games at FT with my remaining $60 or so and see what I can drum up. But all in moderation, of course.

Until next time, make mine poker!

posted by Jordan @ 9:37 PM,


At 10:54 AM, Blogger Hammer Player a.k.a Hoyazo said...

Yeah that was a fun hand last night in Razz. Glad it was you and not some donkass mofo who hit the bet river card on me.

FWIW, although you had the made hand, I believe I was actually mathematically ahead on 5th street, not you as you said in your post (and yes of course I had the A5 underneath to begin with or I would never have called with the K showing on 4th street in the first place). You've got a Q-9-7 low through five cards (I can't see the 9 of course), and I've got four cards to a monstrous 6-low, which if I fill it will already be a board-lock to beat you no matter what cards you pick up on 6th and 7th. That's why I lost so much on the hand, because I had a huge draw and was actually ahead on 5th and again on 6th streets, I knew it because I could see your board cards that meant I had to be ahead, so I bet a lot of money through the middle of the hand. Of course, such is the nature of razz, I got effed on 4th, 6th and then naturally again on 7th street while you made a low card on the end to snatch my big pot away. Like I said though, such is the nature of razz. Nice hand.

At 11:28 AM, Blogger HighOnPoker said...

You may've been mathematically ahead at 5th Street, but I didn't know your hole cards, and I was actually ahead. Whatever the case, I think you and I both knew what we were doing and down the stretch, I think we were both pretty much running neck and neck the whole way, even if the math leaned to you or me as we continued on. I really think that hand came down to a card-for-card cointoss once we hit 5th street.

At 2:08 PM, Blogger Alceste said...

If Hoyazo has any two non-paired cards below 8 there, he was at minumum a 60% favorite (here, if he has A5, you're actually pretty far behind - he's around a 67% favorite with the various dead cards out there) - unless you think he's raising you with paired cards (or 89 underneath), I don't think you can be so certain you're ahead on 5th street - isn't your hand really a draw to a 97 instead of a queen low here?

* numbers courtesy of

At 2:59 PM, Blogger slb159 said...

Trying to analyze the play in that event is as fruitless as trying to figure out who killed JFK, what really happened at Roswell, or if such creatures as Bigfoot, the Loch Ness Monster and El Chupacabras really do exist.


At 3:07 PM, Blogger HighOnPoker said...

slb says it all, but you make some fine points, Alceste. I've already admitted that maybe I wasn't as ahead as I hoped on 5th Street, but I am able to react to upcoming cards. As it were, I was confident that he had a better draw and I knew I was ahead at the moment on 5th Street. He actually caught up on 6th, but not as much as he would like. In the end though, Alceste's math doesn't change the proper play on 5th Street. I still say that you bet to get info. When he raises, you know he is ahead, but if he is 65% ahead, I still have odds to call him there. Disagree?

At 3:35 PM, Blogger Alceste said...

Don't disagree on the call at all (nor on the fifth street bet to see if he paired up) - but would just say that you're calling because you have the odds to draw and not because you have a lower hand on fifth street.

As for STB's aliens, with his raise on third street, hoy almost certainly has two cards lower than an 8 in the hole (with only the 9 and the T behind him, the need to raise to isolate is less) -- the only way jordan is meaningfully ahead here is if hoy was raising very light or the 3 paired him.

At 3:48 PM, Blogger Hammer Player a.k.a Hoyazo said...

Alceste is right on in my book. I didn't mean to say you made a bad call or anything, I was just reacting to your statement that you knew you were "ahead" on 5th street. I actually knew that I was ahead by a decent margin on 5th street. It may come down to what exactly you mean by "ahead" when you say it in your post. If you mean you had by definition the lowest 5-card hand at that point in the hand, then by that definition you were "ahead". If however you mean what I consider to be the more meaningful definition of "ahead" in light of your post -- that you were the favorite -- then you were decidedly behind on both 5th street and 6th street. That's why I bet you again on 6th when we both picked up the Queens, because I still had a draw to a 6 low, and you had at best a draw to a 7 low, and you hadn't played the hand like someone who really had a draw to a 7-low anyways. But what's the diff, razz is a donkey game and here as you have correctly pointed out it came down purely to who got luckier on 6th and 7th streets. I lost this time. Effing razz.

At 3:52 PM, Blogger StB said...

Way to run with the Devil! I wonder how I finished in the freeroll. I gave up with about 16 left. I should have played it out to see if I could take it down.

At 4:01 PM, Blogger HighOnPoker said...

I think we are splitting hairs here. When I said I was ahead, I meant for the moment, and we all agree with that. Hence, "I'm still ahead", and then I acknowledge that we are betting on the next card and I need you to brick to be in great shape. Whatever the case, I think Hoy and I were both cognizant of the fact that we were gambling to see who could outdraw the other person. Sure, he had a better draw, but there were two cards to come for both of us, and I knew I'd be seeing at least one. If his 6th street was a 9 or lower, everything changes. But it wasn't.

At 6:10 PM, Blogger KajaPoker said...

you and hoy sitting next to each other at the virtual felt is almost like those two nerdy girls with braces, glasses, pigtails and acne in high school sitting in the first row. You just know they're going to turn in their homework on time and it going to get an A+, but you also know it is going to take forever to read, the teacher is going to make you read the whole damn thing and there's no way you're ever going to get close.

Do you two have a job? Damn!

I need Waffles BableFish Translator download link.

At 9:52 AM, Blogger slb159 said...

Gotcha J, I rememeber your doggy avatar, but I do believe I saw you using something else last time I saw you playing on FT. Maybe this was just a one time deal for you though.

Glad you enjoyed the post and thx for the comment.

See you at the tables.

At 10:11 AM, Blogger HighOnPoker said...

Actually, slb, I changed it up on a whim. I should really change it back.

At 11:40 AM, Blogger slb159 said...

Yeah, happy puppies RAWK


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