Saturday, March 29, 2008

Are you a Razz Catcher or an Azz Scratcher?

Who's a Razz Catcher?

The catcher is the player who is usually the player on the right side of the bring-in bettor and has a card 8 or under showing. Only one player has raised, when everyone folds to him. He decides to call this raise to try to catch the player stealing or believing his opponent is a weak player (sort of like a floater in No-limit).

The catcher has determined that the raiser is:

1. Stealing--he raised with an Ace showing, and always raises with an Ace showing.
2. Stealing--he raises with the lowest or second lowest ranking card showing, and he always raises in these situations
3. You know this player will fold if you hit good and he hits bad on 4th street.

Being the razz catcher doesn't require three cards to an eight or lower, it just requires a good card on 4th street while his opponent hits bad.

Give razz catching a try. It works real well when you are running hot.

Who's the Azz Scratcher?

A player who is always waiting for three cards to an eight, or an obvious steal situation.

Friday, March 28, 2008

Someone at the WSOP doesn't like Razz Poker

Harrah's has planned for the Event on Friday the 13th. Why move the one Razz event to Friday the 13th, when there are like 64 other No-Limit events they could move to that day?

I think it's a sign that the Harrah's people don't like Razz since they don't make as much money off of the game. Another insult to Razz...the poker game that "don't get no respect."

Thursday, March 27, 2008

Razz: Short-Handed Play

I think the strategy for Razz changes when you are short-handed...meaning you are playing at a table of 3 or 4 total players.

The one key point of difference is that stealing the antes and bring-in bet is not as profitable as when you are at a full table. So at a short-handed table, you should look for opportunities to slow-play--that is, of course, when you have three starting cards to an 8 low..

For example, when there are a total of 4 players at a table:

1. When your up card is the lowest of the board cards, and you have 8 or under...just limp if someone else could have an 8 or lower as well. You want to try to get heads up and win a big pot.

2. When your up card is the lowest of the board cards, and you have only one low card in the hole...if there is just one other low card showing...raise and try to steal.

3. When your up card is the lowest of the board cards, and you have NO low cards in the hole...if there is just one other low card showing...fold.

4. When your up card is the second lowest of the board cards, and you have two low cards to give you 8 or better...limp

5. When your up card is the second lowest of the board cards, and you have one low cards in the hole, raise to steal.

6. When your up card is the second lowest of the board cards, and you have NO low cards to give you 8 or better...fold.

7. Whenever you have three cards to an 8 low just limp...unless you have the only low card showing on the board...just raise and take down the pot.

Again, you may be drawn out when you limp but you have the opportunity to win a big pot since your opponent won't be able to put you on the two low hole cards.

And, if you raise and get called when you have a bad card in the hole, if you hit good on 4th street and your opponent hits and you should take down the pot.

Saturday, March 22, 2008

Poker: Bad seat ..good seat...myth or fact?

It's a fact. Seats run hot and cold. If you get a bad seat, you gotta leave. I had a string of 21 straight unplayable hands, and when I finally had a hand, I lost. Left that table.

At the new table, I had a good seat, but as soon as I won--everyone left.

At the last table of the was a bad I had few hands and lost again.

I did stay to watch the player who was getting hot, and the player who took my seat. No change in results--the same player was winning, and the poor guy who took over for me took a beating.

One thing to consider before entering a game may be to watch and see which seats are running hot and which ones are running cold. The trend at an 8 handed table may be 2 seats will be hot, 2 seats will be cold, and the others will just be.

Overall, tonight seems players were checking when they should be betting, raising when they should be calling, and folding instead of calling...unfortunately, I couldn't take advantage of the play...ended down $200--playing at $10-$20 games.

Lost a big hand with a 6-5 low...4 players saw the flop and I raised on 3rd get the others out...but didn't work...Everyone stayed in...I had the 6-5 on 5th street...unfortunately, one player hit the wheel...big pot...and he had just hit a wheel 4 hands earlier. Hot seat....

Didn't have many hands to play. And, unfortunately, the few I played I lost all but one...yet, I'd take the odds I was getting in all of them...just got a bad seat.

It happens.

Friday, March 21, 2008

Online Poker and Cheating: Using Software to Give You an Edge

There are software tools that make it easier to win money at online poker as it tracks the way your opponents play their hands. Why has this become an accepted practice?

1. The online sites should ban all these tools. Why don’t they? Or, just offer all this information to all their players for free?

And, if none of the above, the online site should have some type of icon next to the players who are using these devices at the table. So, everyone is aware of the situation.

2. These tools have become a widespread and accepted form of cheating. Poker is a great game and it should be an even playing field. This hurts the game.

3. Everyone who uses these tools knows they are cheating. Proof: Think back to the first time you used any of these programs. Did you think, “This is a waste of money,” or “Wow, this is going to give me an edge and help win the other guy’s money!”

4. These tools do not help to attract more players nor do they help in the reputation of online poker. Our respected poker leaders should speak out against this nonsense.

5. What if this existed at your local card room, but the card room only allowed one player at each table to use a similar tool? You wouldn’t be too happy. And, you might leave. In fact, you mentioned that you only want to play at a table where there is a fish–makes sense, but you should have to figure it out on your own.

Of course, your card room doesn’t allow devices at the table to help you win. You can’t even use your cell phone.


I know we all love technology but these tools don’t help the game they just help you take advantage of those players unaware, with information that gives you an unfair edge.

Players complain that the sites rip people off. Well, I think players are ripping other players off as well.


I bought one of these packages months ago–and it helped my limit cash game a lot…it was ridiculous how “smart” I became in my decision making. At first, I was really happy with my winnings, but later on, I had 2 thoughts:
1) I was angry that other players were probably taking advantage of my poker habits using these programs for months–meaning I felt cheated and 2) I felt like I was cheating.

As a result, I have eliminated all ring games except one that I know they don’t track–called Razz. (Yeah, I know no one likes the game.) I do play in tournaments, without the software…and have stopped using it all together.

I’m sure you and/or your visitors will shoot me down on this, but just because the other guy is doing it, doesn’t make it right. Sounds really moralistic for a poker blog, I know.

Note: I posted this as my response to the discussion of multi-tabling in online poker at a great strategy site I just discovered called

A quiet night...need more Razz poker players..

I played at the $5-$10 table for about an hour and picked up $100.

Left the game to watch Arizona lose to West Virginia. Then saw Kobe take over in the last few minutes against Utah--he clearly wanted to win this game.

Came back late and there wasn't much going on at the Razz tables. There was an opening at the $15-$30 table so I was there for a little before players left, so I left. That is a tougher game since the antes are $3 plus a bring-in of $5.

I ended up at an $8-$16 game that was nearly full, but everyone left again. Played one hand and lost.

Net--won $40.

Thursday, March 20, 2008

Insight #2: A Poker Mind is a Terrible Thing to Waste...

One of the interesting facts about Razz Poker is how little knowledge there is as to the probabilities--unlike other poker games.

If you ask a No-limit player a basic question about the game, he will know the answer. For example, ask a No-limit player if a small pair is favored over A-K, and he'll say it's "a coin flip, but the pair is the slight favorite." Heck, even my Mom knows that fact.

Ask a Razz player a basic question, like are your 3 cards to a 6 favorite over 3 cards to a 8, when there are no duplicates of your hand on the board? He doesn't have a clue, and he doesn't even care. But, he will get angry if he loses his hand since he thinks he has the better starting hand. If his opponent has a couple of duplicates on board, the 3 cards to a 6 will be the underdog!

To play winning Razz poker, you need to know the percentages because you want to maximize situations where you are the favorite.

Here is a test of your Razz knowledge:

You have (A-3) 7,5, Q
Your opponent has (x-x) 4,7, 9

You suspect he has a made 9 hand against your 7-5 draw. When he bets on 5th street, what should you do?

a) Raise--you are in the lead so you want to jam the pot
b) Call--you are not in the lead, so you want to keep the pot size small.
c) Fold--you are not in the lead, so you should fold.

Despite the experts claim that you should raise, they are all wrong!! Your opponent is most likely a 61% favorite to win the hand.

But you should not fold, as the pot odds on 5th street will require you to call even though you are behind.

Run a few hundred simulations to learn the probabilities and the odds. Or, check out my book, as I've done all the work for you.

Funny thing happened to prove my point. While playing Razz last night I mentioned my book. A player said that there's no need for a book, since Razz is "common sense." He lost all his money real fast as he clearly didn't have the common sense to learn when he was ahead and when he was behind.

Play Razz Poker to Win, not to lose. Hmm...Good title for a book.

A testimonial for my Razz Poker book...

from a player on Full Tilt:

"I love it. It's simple and the live plays are great. I love the point system, its a gem." -vincentca2004

I played at the $10-$20 actually is better than the $8-$16 since the antes are the same, and you get better odds. Of course, the results helped as after 90 minutes, I won $500.

The first two hands I had were (A-2) 3 and I lost, so I was down $100 real fast.

Things improved, even though I no longer had those great wheel draw starting hands. I had to make some tough calls on 5th and 6th street, but they paid off.

Tuesday, March 18, 2008

The Full Tilt Software Wanted Me...

To Lose from the Start.

Sometimes I get a feeling...which is either a winning one, or a bad feeling. From the beginning, I had the bad the software was going to punish me...and it did.

First, entered the $75 Event...lost all 4 times it was heads up...too big a hole to get out..and went out early.

Second, went to a $5-$10 cash game and it was not nice at was one of those 7-6 versus 7-5 type of situations....Lost $100

Finally, went to the $8-$16 game...I played two hands in an hour and lost. My favorite:

Board K-Q-9-7-10-9...the K brings it in. It is folded to me...I'm the 7 and I raise. The second 9 calls.

Heads-up on the flop:
Me: (5-8) 7
Opponent (x-x) 9

4th street:
Me: (5-8) 7-3
Opponent (x-x) 9-10

I bet figuring he'd he calls.

5th street:
Me: (5-8) 7-3-3
Opponent (x-x) 9-10-7

He checks and I bet. He raises and I re-raise. He calls.
He has a made 10 low, I have an 8-7 draw...I am the favorite even with his I also can outdraw him.

6th street:
Me: (5-8) 7-3-3-A
Opponent (x-x) 9-10-7-6

He bets! I raise. He calls. I have a made 8 against his made 9, and no doubt a good draw.

So, what does he have?

Opponent (2-4) 9-10-7-6. This means he needs an Ace, 3 or 5 to be sure he wins the pot. Well, that gives him 9 outs or 18%.

The river I hit paint and he gets his 5.

Not a fun way to go...

It was just not going to happen tonight...left after another $190 loss.

Total loss tonight...-$265. Tough to give that money from last night back. But, it happens...

Monday, March 17, 2008

Razz versus No Limit poker

If only every night went this smooth! I played for an hour and won $310.

Every hand I played fell into place....again, my one loss was starting with 3 cards to a bike and my opponent caught up on the river.

Actually, when it was only three players we were talking about Razz and how to play. Also, there was a question about it was a simulation I had run. One player had a made J and the other player had an 8 draw...the player with the J decided to gamble even though he was behind....and lost.

It turns out he thought it was like 48/52...but actually he was 40/60.

The one thing about Razz is that there are a lot fewer bad beats than in NL...even though players get more frustrated in Razz. I think it's the illusion of NL you feel you can control your outcome more by outsmarting your opponent.

The reality is that every kind of limit game--not just Razz--constrains creativity. After all an opponent just has to call one more bet.

NL is more fun since it gives players more of a rush--especially since you can risk all your money.

Still, I believe Razz is an easier game to win money at than NL...The level of skill at NL is so evenly distributed among players, while that's not the case at Razz...

Oh, I just heard from a friend on Brickin' the Nuts, that FT has a $75 buy-in game on Tuesday I'll have to check that out. There's a rumor that a site may even test pot limit Razz...interesting.

Sunday, March 16, 2008

A Day of Tilt!

I missed the time for the PS $1 million tourney by 3 hours...mixed up the starting the time I got to the event, I was on the BB and all-in. So, I got to see myself get knocked out...that was fun.

I went to play in the $8-$16 cash game, and had the best run of starting hands ever! All 3 cards to a wheel maybe 6 out of the first 10 hands...and I lost 4 of them! Unreal...I got angry and made some really dumb plays....TILT!

I was down almost $220, when I won some back, so I was only down $120.

I decided to move to the $24 buy-in tourney....but got knocked out when my first 4 cards was a 6 low and my opponent called me down showing a pair of Aces. He hit a wheel on the river to knock me out.

Bad day...I think the software was fooling with my won and I lost $150.

Saturday, March 15, 2008

Won Razz Poker Tourney-only a $24 buy-in

Won $500 for the night...

Started at the $5-$10 cash game. One player kept raising me heads up when I had the lead on 3rd, so it was capped all the time, and on 4th, and it was capped again, and then slowed down and just called when I was still ahead on 5th. But, he hit two perfect cards to beat me not just the first time but also the second time.

Called me an idiot...which was funny.

The third time he did it, he lost and right away left the game.

The table broke-up, and I went to another table...and I lost against a player who was calling my raises with a K, Q, and J...I lost every time, when he caught up and won on the river.

It was very mean going...I was down -$170.

I entered the $24 Razz event...92 players...This was a much better structure than the $10 buy-in event, as you have more chips and more time.

I only had to get lucky once, since the players were making mistakes. When it got down to the final table I had 30% of the total chips. When it was down to 3 players, I was in the lead. And, then the player to my left kept calling my raises with a Q and J--and would win by catching better cards. It was funny because when I was stealing, he folded, and when I had a good low he was calling with picture cards and beating me.

Soon I was in 3rd place...finally I started to win back the chips and I knocked out the other player.

Heads-up I had a 60/40 lead, but lost 2 big pots, and was now down 25/75. This player kept lucking out against me...hey, it happens.

I started to come back a little. And,then this player made a mistake when on 5th, he had an 8 low draw against my 9 made hand. He is of the mistaken belief that he was ahead--he was not, as I showed in my book. So, when he re-raised me, I raised again..this time he just called. Even though he improved to a 10 low, there was so much money in the pot, he called on the river and lost.

I had retaken the lead--albeit a slight one.

On the last hand, I slow-played a hand on 5th, when I was re-raised and just called --even though I knew I had the lead. On 6th street, I check raised..and was called. On the river my 6-5 low became a over! Game took longer than I thought.

Earlier tonight in the cash game, I got criticized for re-raising on 4th or 5th street to try to narrow the number of players from either 3 or 4 players...again, this is the correct play since it increases your chance of winning substantially by being heads-up.

Of course, it does backfire when the player in the lead doesn't raise to force out the other player. Oh well...

Friday, March 14, 2008

Not enough Razz players Friday night...

Only 2 short handed tables at the $5-$10 I figured I'd play at a $10 Razz tourney. I had 15 minutes until the event began, so I went to the $5-$10 game and lost one big hand when my opponent caught up on the happens...The table lost a few players so we were down to 4 players...with a few minutes to go, the only game with at least 6 players was the $15-$30 game...ante'd a few times but nothing to play and no time to identify player types......After never getting out of the starting gate at the tourney...I tried again.

I looked to play Razz again...I found 6 players at the $5-$10 game...and after a few hands everyone left except for me and two other players. Bummer...I decided to leave as well.

Total loss of $82.

Thursday, March 13, 2008

Insight #1: Razz Poker and Procter & Gamble

Since I won't have time to play tonight..Here is Insight #1...

When I worked with P&G, one of the first things I learned was the importance of consumer habits when it came to marketing. P&G spends millions and millions of dollars on studies to research our habits. If you understand people's habits, you have taken the first step in being successful in marketing. The fact is that people don't change their habits unless there is an overwhelming reason to do so.

If you need proof, look at technology. The older you are, the more ingrained you are in your habits, and the less likely you are to try something new. The younger you are, the more likely you are to be willing to try a new tech-item because you are still developing your habits. For example, how long did it take you to get your parents to try email? (These are generalizations, of course, but they are directionally fact.)

People feel uncomfortable when you try to get them to change a habit. For example, if you brush your teeth holding the brush with your right hand, it would feel a little strange if you tried to use your left hand instead. But, what if I told you that your teeth would be healthier? Would you become a lefty? At first, yes, but you're habit is so ingrained you'll be back to a right handed brusher before you know it.

The same is true for Razz poker. Players have habits. If you observe the players around you, you will witness certain habits of players. At the most basic level, here are some common player types, their habits and how to take advantage of these habits with your starting hand:

a) The ABC player: Knows that he should only start with three cards to an eight. Habit: When he believes he is ahead, he will raise. When he thinks he may be raised from a player yet to act, he will call. When he doesn't have the goods, he folds. (Sound familiar?)

When he raises, you know where he is at--three cards to an 8 low. This will make it very easy to play your hand.
When he calls, you know he has the same type of hand, but he is aware of possible lower starting hands behind him. In fact, if he has played a hand for a while, he may even be calling with a hidden 9 card for his starting low.

If you and this ABC player are the only ones with low cards on the board, raise when you are first in the hand, regardless of your hole cards. You are betting that he does not have three cards to an 8.

When he calls, and you do have a good hand, you should raise and try to get heads-up.
This is a player who you can figure out quickly since his play is on auto-pilot.

Vary your play when it looks like you are always making the same play against this opponent: The next time, only raise when you have at least one low card in the hole. You don't want to be seen as being predictable.

b) The Aggressive player: Knows he can win more pots by raising and betting, than waiting for the three cards to an eight.
Habit: Raising when first in a hand with any low card showing.

This is the type of player you will win lots of money against long term.
When he raises with a low card showing, and you have a lower card showing, re-raise and try to get heads up.
When he raises with a low card showing, and you have a higher low card showing (8 or lower), re-raise and try to get heads up.
When he raises since he has the 2nd low card remaining before the bring-in bettor, and you have the other low card, re-raise.

The reason you are making these re-raises and not calling is because you want to be heads-up and you know that if you get a better card on 4th street, you will often win with a bet. And, it gives you pot odds to call a bet when you are behind on 4th see what happens on 5th street.

Vary your play: Since this player is aggressive, you want to have the edge most of the time, so only re-raise when you have at least one low card in the hole. You should avoid calling this player, unless it is to vary your play, and not be seen as bashing this opponent.

c) The Cautious player: Wants to make sure he has the best starting hand, before he raises.
Habit: Raises only when he knows he has the best starting hand. Otherwise, he will limp.

You will rarely win a big pot against the cautious player, but you can win more pots, and also avoid losing big pots.
When he raises, and you have a good starting hand, just call.
When he calls, and you have a good starting hand, raise to get heads up.
Play straight-forward Razz poker against the cautious player. Remember if he checks, you must bet.

If you just identify these three types of players and figure out their habits, you will go from a poker player to a winning Razz poker player.

Wednesday, March 12, 2008

Razz Poker-Wednesday night

I entered the $5-$10 game tonight....I only played for one hour. Won $200.

A lot of limping and a lot of very loose calls. One player attacked me almost every time I was the first one in with a raise.

The first time I had a run of really strong starting hands--sometimes they held up and sometimes they didn't. I was only up about $50, since a couple of players beat me in big pots when they hit two perfect cards on 6th and 7th.

I wasn't happy about it, but they were chasing without the proper odds. As I say "Don't be the azz in Razz." Because it caught up to's funny but if it doesn't beat them one night, it seems to me these players get punished another night.

The big hand I won near the end was when I had 7-6-4 and the player with a 7 showing raised to $5, I re-raised, and one other player with a 10 showing called the double raise. The first raiser called.

On 4th street, I paired with a 6, the original raiser showed 7-8, and the other player has 10-4.

I bet and only the 10-4 player called. I was very happy the 7-8 player folded.

On 5th street, I hit a J, but the other player hit a Q.

The board was now:

Me: (7-6)-4-6-J
Opponent (x-x)-10-4-Q

I bet, figuring he would fold. But, he called.

The turn was a 9 for me, and a 7 for him.

Me: (7-6)-4-6-J-9
Opponent (x-x)-10-4-Q-7

The river for me was a J, so we had:

Me: (7-6)-4-6-J-9-J
Opponent (x-x)-10-4-Q-7-x

My only chance of winning was a bet. I bet. He guess is he should have called with a 10...and it's hard for me to believe he didn't have a 10.

Razz Poker-Tuesday night

Played at the $5-$10 game for 1 hour and 15 minutes..won $102.

Nothing really out of the norm...

I took the seat of a player who had been getting unlucky...first or second hand I get a beauty--A-2-3....and brick-brick-brick--I had to fold.

Another hand I was in the visible lead...but got called down...I had four 8's....hey, I tried.... final note: Jim McManus asked to send him an advance copy of my book--which was great.

Tuesday, March 11, 2008

Razz Poker-Monday night

Started off at the $5-$10 game...lost my cool...dropped $100...and moved to a new table where I won $120. This game broke up, and the only one to move to was the $8-$16 game. Thanks, to an aggressive player I ended the night ahead $320.

This aggressive player was playing her upcard as long as it was low to do the following:

1. To call a raise with a low card and hope to hit good on 4th street
2. To come in with a raise and hope to win the blinds or face just one opponent.

I suspect this player has only one low card in the hole most hands.

However, when she did have two low cards in the hole...she would win big.

Also, she would win a lot of hands uncontested as a steal from any position.


She'd have a 5 after the bring-in bettor and raise. This looked strong especially with all the other low cards. If she got called in one place, she would hope to hit good on 4th and/or 5th to take down the pot. If not, she would fold.

She's call a raise from upfront wiht here one low card calling. Again, she'd hope to hit good on 4th.

She'd always raise as the lowest card on the board or an Ace.

She's always raise if she was the second lowest card remaining on the board.

She's always raise if she had the Ace.

She's always was stupid in that she'd call too many raises as the bring-in bettor.

She ended up way ahead as the other players were folding too often.

When I figured her out, I did well and adjusted my game to play against her:

If I only had one low card in the hole, and a low upcard...she was on my right
(2 seats), so when she's raise I'd re-raise and inevitable be heads up. It was risky, but I increased my chances of winning by being heads-up.

If I hit good on 4th street, she'd fold right away. If I missed, she's bet and depending on my cards, I'd fold or call...hoping to hit good on 5th street.

Another thing which I tried was to try to get heads-up on 5th street, by re-raising on 4th street to move a player out. The only time it worked to get heads-up, I couldn't catch up--I knew I was behind since I re-raised by the initial bettor.

The other times, the player with the better hand didn't get it...and just called...leaving 3 players in the hand. Eventhough he had to be ahead...fortunately, I won some nice pots when we were 3 handed...I just wished people understood why raising to get players out is a good idea!

Sunday, March 9, 2008

Sunday night-Razz $5/$10

I played for 1.5 hours...lost $5....a bad player was chasing and she hit and I missed...but it was happening whomever she played against...she knocked out a couple of good players by hitting two perfect was funny because she was up to $500 than back down to $300..up to $750 and back down to $600...and finally left.

Results-Saturday March 8--11:15pm

Played at Full Tilt for about one hour on Razz poker....$5-$10 table...Buy in $200...left with $412...won a little over $200.

Keys to win:

1. When I tried to steal...if I hit bad on 4th...I laid it down.
2. Used the Play Razz Poker to Win starting hand point system--worked well
3. Got away from a big pot when I had both the bad draw and not in lead, although good hole cards
4. Hit good in the few hands I did play--also used the 2-level rule on 4th street
5. Some bad players who chased--Don't be the azz in Razz

Thursday, March 6, 2008

For Razz poker players

I just posted a new website called Provides free Razz tips, an excerpt from my new book called Play Razz Poker to Win, and more. Any feedback is appreciated. Thanks.

Wednesday, March 5, 2008

Book Review: Play Razz Poker to Win

If you're wondering how to be a more consistent winner at poker, there may be a better way in this book: Play Razz Poker to Win: New Strategies for Razz and HORSE poker players that are proven to work.

Razz poker is the one game where the knowledge base remains small since all the focus has been on the more popular games like No-Limit, Limit, Omaha and Stud.

This book is a precise guide on how to play every single street in Razz whether your a novice or a professional. All the strategies are based on latest hand simulation tools, probabilities and actual play. There's even a simple cheat sheet you can use while you play online at sites like Full Tilt and Poker Stars.

To learn more go to or visit

What's Your Poker IQ?