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.


StB said...

I can see folding. You are not only behind to the 9, but may be bbehind on the 4 as well. You may be looking at two perfect cards to take down this pot.

Mitchell said...

Thanks--this is how I view it.

You are giving up too much equity in the hand if you fold.

For example...let's say it is a $10-$20 cash table, with 8 players and $1 ante, and a $3 bring-in bet. Most likely what has happened is the following:

On 3rd street, there is a raise and a call. Pot is $31.

On 4th street, there is a bet and a call. Pot is $51.

On 5th street, there is a $20 bet.

You are getting 2.5-1 on your bet, and those odds make it way too attractive to fold. You are giving up on the hand too can't assume the worst will happen especially with that good of a draw, in my opinion.

See what happens on 6th street, you may find yourself ahead going to the river!

Alan Bostick said...

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

Who needs knowledge of the probabilities when you can count them on your fingers? (Of course, remembering dead cards is a big help, too.)

What's Your Poker IQ?