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Lightning Razz

Since I'm always getting requests for more Razz content (cough cough), here's a fun hand for you with some basic Razz strategy. I was playing in the $5 Razz MTT (100 players) on Full Tilt last night (so much for cutting down on online poker). Razz MTTs feel like they are very luck-dependent, largely because once I'm in a hand, I'm usually raising the whole way. I play any three cards 8 or lower (as opposed to Felicia's general 7 or lower requirement), and with the donkey Razz players in these MTTs, my new guilty pleasure, 8 or less is usually enough to give me an edge preflop against most of the players.

In a series of hands, I noticed that one player, BFK, would call down with terrible cards. I also noticed that he seemed to react relatively quickly. In situations like this, when I take the lead, I like to be extra-aggressive and bet as quickly as possible. It goes back to my general belief that poker, especially online poker, has its own rhythm. When my opponent starts dancing for me, I like to keep the beat moving, so that they don't have time to think about what a particular hand means. Instead, they keep doing what they are doing, which is usually calling me with worse cards. Here we go:

I'm 2nd big stack at the table, but BFK has a fairly healthy stack. I start off with 6A/7, so I'm within Felicia's tighter requirements, which means that I'm going to amp up the aggression even more, if an opportunity arises. To me, I just feel that it makes sense to raise while you think you are ahead. Fold when you think you are behind, unless you have a huge draw. Check or call when you are unsure.

Hanta, with a K showing, brings it in for 50, and I'm on his immediate left. I complete to 150 total, hoping to push out players with semi-playable hands or two low cards, since for all I know, I'm getting a brick coming up. They'll fold and I'll win it while I'm ahead, hopefully. At the very least, I'll thin the herd and hopefully be heads up, where one bad card for my opponent may open up the door I need to take down the hand.

PokerBrat, with a 3 showing, calls, and I'm a bit nervous. I played in a token race with him earlier, and he barely played 3 hands, so he's a tight player (although who knows if that translates to his Razz game). PB is on a shorter stack, but has enough to hurt me and play a bit. BFK has a 2 showing and calls as well. Hanta (K) folds.

Now, here is the thing. None of those guys raised, so I'm confident that I am not up against A23 or something really scary. But I could be up against A37 or something similar, or even A8/3, in which case I'm ahead now, but that might change. In other words, I don't know where I am at, because BFK might have T8/3 the way he plays. Regardless, I'm cautious.

On my fourth street, I am dealt a 3, for a 6A/73 (draw to a 76 low), pretty good this far into the hand. However, Brat has 34 showing, and BFK has 26. No obvious bricks, so I have to be cautious.

Brat bets out 150. BFK calls. I decide to call as well, because (a) if they had great lows before, they may've paired with their low fourth streets, and (b) they still might brick, and I might be sitting on a pat 76 in one cards' time.

And so I am. Fifth street brings a 4, for a A6/734. A 76-low is pretty strong with this level of competition, and with 5 out of 5 low cards, the chance that my opponents have a high card in the hole just went up. Plus, many players (myself included) are happy to play 8-lows or 8-low draws, so even if they have an 8 in the hole they are screwed (temporarily, at least). Beautifully, Brat was dealt a Ten, so he must be concerned. Even better, BFK was dealt the 8. So, ideally BFK has an 8-low right now. I'm 100% in the lead, so I kick into my super aggro mode, trying to stuff the pot before BFK has a chance to realize how behind he actually is. I bet 300, and Brat folds. BFK calls.

Now, the sixth street for me is an 8, so I'm still at a 76 low, but I'm worried because BFK hit a Queen. He's likely to fold if he has another low card, but then again, I've seen him make bad plays earlier. I raise immediately, practically before the cards are dealt. BFK complies and calls immediately. Basically, he is in a call-down mode. I know this, so I want to keep the pressure on, so that he doesn't have time to think or work out what my obvious betting pattern is telling him. Remember, I raised preflop which signals that I have an 8 or lower hand to most people. I hit three cards below 8 and then I start betting aggressively. Sounds like a made hand to me, but a chasing opponent won't stop to think about it if you don't let him. Go fast and often, he'll oblige, hoping to get his next card quick so he can "get luck". I'm also keeping his rhythm up (he is calling me almost as fast as I'm betting.

The seventh card is dealt facedown, and for me its a negligible 9. WIth his board, I can only lose if each of his three hole cards are exactly 4, 3, and Ace. In other words, I got a lock. So I bet, super fast, of course. And he calls, super faster.

And what did he have: 73/268Q/2, or a 87 low. If he stopped to look at my board, what could he see. He saw I had a 7348 board, which meant that he must have believed that none of my three hole cards were 5 or less. Puh-lease! I bet preflop, so he should've known that much.

Now, basically, this is an example of taking advantage of your opponent's shear stupidity. It was nothing amazing on my part. I bet when I thought I was ahead, called when I wasn't sure, and then bet when I was definitely ahead. The key was in building the rhythm for the later rounds.

By betting quickly, you can set the pace for the hand. Just like in most sports, if you set the pace, you control the game.

So, there you have a pretty typical Razz hand, for all you Razz newbies. I just use it to highlight the importance of controlling tempo during a game. You can cause other players to make stupid errors if they are dancing to your beat.

That's it for now. Thanks everyone for the comments lately. I haven't done a great job of cutting down on online play, but I have gotten a lot of sentiment from out there that I should work on fixing my leaks online. True enough, and the honesty is appreciated.

Until next time, make mine Razz!

posted by Jordan @ 11:14 PM,


At 11:50 AM, Blogger CJ said...

Hmmm... as obviously dumb as this Razz player was, I'm not sure the "rhythm" had much to do with it. He was clearly committed to calling you down and likely had the call box checked.

I think the idea of "rhythm" can be as dangerous for the player trying to set the rhythm as the player following it. Poker is a game of information and the less time you spend absorbing and processing that information, the greater chance you have of missing something that costs you money.

In this case, there was little you needed to think about. It was rather obvious that you were ahead just about the whole way once the 5th card fell.

At 12:25 PM, Blogger Jordan said...

You hit it right on the head, sorta, CJ. I didn't need to think, and he did, hence the quick betting. If he took the time to take control and slow down, he'd maybe come to a different conclusion about his play. But by keeping the pressure on, I can keep him calling without a thought of where he is at. Here, he was playing the level 1 poker player, concentrating on his own cards only and hoping to catch an 8-low. This is a lot more common in the stud-type games because there is so much more info available. Some players foolishly block it all out and only focus on their cards, hoping to hit their hand without a thought as to yours. In situations like that, I advise attacking rapidly, so that they don't get a chance to break the rhythm to slow down and think.

As for rhythm being dangerous, I'd generally agree, but only where you are so focused on rhythm that you lose track of the information available to you. Otherwise, controlling the rhythm, be it slow or fast, is akin to controlling the hand, and there is little wrong with controlling a hand.

At 1:33 PM, Blogger TripJax said...

I think I recall the same guy nailing an Ace on the river to take a hand down on you...that was around the time we were chatting.

I like the CJ comment and your response...excellent to get the back and forth going...loves me some learning.

At 3:24 PM, Blogger Unknown said...

I love beating people with a King as my doorcard :)

It usually sets up for my usual tight game to get paid off on big hands later on.


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