May, 2013 - An Advanced Razz Poker Strategy is designed to suit the experienced Razz Poker player who is already applying fundamental strategies. The purpose of an advanced Razz strategy is to further increase profits and decrease losses, while moving up into higher levels of game play. If you’ve already read our Beginner and Intermediate Razz Poker Strategies, your poker game should already including Starting Hand and Street Betting tactics, the ability to read the Open Cards on the Board and avoid Drawing Dead. In this more advanced Razz Poker strategy, we’ll delve even farther into what it takes to master the game.
There I an old adage that has been said time and again: “Poker is not a game of cards played by people, but a game of people played with cards.” Ask any professional Stud poker player and they will confirm that poker is not just a game of cards and luck of the draw, as most novice players believe. Poker is a game of psychology. If you can sink into the mind of your opponent, you can defeat him 100% of the time.
This does not refer to psychic abilities, ESP or any other form of visually knowing what cards your opponent holds without actually seeing them. This refers to a keen ability to observe your opponents behavior and identify patterns. For instance, we can walk outside, see a big dark cloud overhead and know that it is going to rain; but a meteorologist can tell you with detailed accuracy when it will start, how much rain will fall, if there will be heavy thunder involved and when we can expect it to pass.
Yes, a meteorologist went to school to learn these tell-tale signs, but with enough experience playing poker, and a knack for observation, you can learn to predict your opponents just as accurately. Start out by focusing on a single opponent. Note how he reacts to various betting situations and holdings. Does he always Call from the Button, no matter what he’s holding? Does he bluff often? Is he a tight player that only moves on with a premium starting hand? By keeping track of these and other behavioral patterns, you can successfully predict how he will react.
Try predicting his moves and once you’ve got him down, move onto the next player. After much practice, patterns will become blatantly obvious within a few hands, and you’ll be able to pin-point each and every player at the table. Eventually, you’ll be able to guess with strong accuracy as to the holdings of your opponent. If you’ve ever watched “Poker After Dark”, you’ve probably seen Daniel Negreanu do this on multiple occasions. He’s not a psychic; he’s just very experienced at reading his opponents.
A veteran Razz Poker player knows when to bluff for profit. You cannot Bluff on a regular basis and expect to win every time. Bluffs need to be kept to an occasional minimum, or you’ll be called out. Once your called out, your success rate at bluffing drops immensely. Remember the observation skills we just discussed? Your opponents are doing the same thing. Don’t let them figure you out, or you’ll lose the option to steal Antes and small pots.
To pull off a Bluff in Razz Poker, it is best to be in a late betting position, with a premium Door Card. The Door Card is the first face-up card you receive after the initial deal. This card should be on the Wheel (Ace through 5). If most of your opponents Fold out before your turn to act, and the only players to stay have limped in, place a Raise and try to steal the pot early. If, as the streets progress, your Open Hand is phenomenally better than that of your opponents (regardless of your hidden cards), you still have a probable Bluffing opportunity. Again, place the Raise and try to steal the pot. Be sure to increase levels slowly, and only if you’ve found success at the previous and current levels. The competition becomes more brutal as you progress the stakes.
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