Razz: 3rd Street Play

3rd Street Play - Don't Be the Azz in Razz

There are many things Razz players do, which they should not do. As a result hands that can be won, instead are lost. Hands that should be folded, instead end up being costly. Don't chase without the proper odds. Don't be the azz in Razz.

  1. Don't ignore the action when you have folded your hand on 3rd street.

    Watch how your opponents' play their hands:

    - Do they come-in with a raise all the time or do they just call?
    - How often do they raise?
    - How strong are their hands when they call and when they raise?
    - How often do they steal? Too often or not at all?
    - How often do they defend their bring-in bet? In what situations?
    - Do they chase when they are behind?
    - Which street do they decide to fold when they seem behind?
    - Do they ever slow-play? With which hands?
    - Do they check-raise or check-raise bluff? On what streets?

    All players have tendencies that you can use to help you make the right decision.
  2. Don't defend your bring-in bet when your exposed card is two-levels higher than your opponent.

    Razz players will defend their bring-in bet too often, especially when their hole cards look good. This is a mistake.
    When you are the bring-in bettor, here are the odds you are getting to call if you have two good hole cards and your opponent has the hand he is representing:

    - Your exposed card is four-levels higher than your opponent (like 9 versus 5). You are 10-1 to catch up on 4th street.
    - Your exposed card is three-levels higher than your opponent (like 10 versus 7). You are 6-1 to catch up on 4th street.
    - Your exposed card is two-levels higher than your opponent (like J versus 9). You are 4-1 to catch up on
    4th street.
    - Your exposed card is one-level higher than your opponent (like 9 versus 8). You are almost 3-1 to catch up on 4th street.

    Example 1:
    You are the bring-in bettor with (A-2) K, and everyone folds to the player to your right who shows a 4 and
    You believe he is stealing, and want to call. The problem is that you may be wrong, and you may be chasing a strong hand. Also, you are hoping to hit good on 4th street, and your opponent to hit a K on 4th street. And, even if he hits a King on 4th street, you are hoping to hit better than your opponent on 5th street as well. The combination of these outcomes points to a clear fold.

    Example 2:
    You are the bring-in bettor with (A-2) 10, and everyone folds to the player to your right who shows an 8 and raises. While there is a better chance your opponent will get a card 10 or higher than in the previous example, it is still a bad play.

    Example 3:
    You are the bring-in bettor with (A-2) 9, and everyone folds to the player to your right who shows an 8 and
    raises. If the board shows you have three duplicates, you should call. If it does not, and you believe your opponent is stealing, you can call just to mix up your play. You don't want to always fold your bring-in bet to the player to your right.

  3. Don't get carried away with trying to win with your bring-in bet hand, even though one or more players just called.

    Sometimes you will see this bring-in bettor try to win the hand with a bet on 4th street hoping his opponents will fold. They don't fold and when he misses on 5th street, he has wasted a bet.

    Example 4:
    You have (7-9) J and bring it in. Two players call, one showing a 6 and the other showing an 8. On 4th street, both players hit bad cards—each with a Q, and you hit a 5.

    While you have improved your hand, don't bet since your opponents will not fold. Wait to see what happens on 5th street.
    If the same thing happens on 5th street, you can bet and have confidence that your opponents will fold.

  4. Don't rule out slow-playing your starting hands. Slow-playing a strong hand with just a call is often a very profitable play in Razz.

    The benefits to slow-playing are the following:

    - when you just call, opponents believe your hand is weaker than it is
    - when you just call, any opponent who raises, defines the strength of his hand. But, he does not know the strength of your hand—which gives you an edge.
    - if you both hit good cards on 4th street, your opponent will think you are chasing when you may be ahead
    - if you hit a good card on 4th street and your opponent does not, when you bet your opponent will mostly likely call and be the one chasing. This is an ideal situation for you to win a big pot.

    Slow-playing is even more powerful against the too aggressive Razz player. You can trap this player for a big pot by allowing him to bet all the way to 7th street, and calling or raising on the end.
  5. Don't be one of those players who always raises with an Ace showing.

    While it is a good play to try to steal with your Ace up card, don't do it every time. Your opponents will notice, and they will take advantage of this play. A good way to randomly decide when to raise with your exposed Ace is to wait for when you have one low card in the hole.
  6. Don't forget that players can't see your hole cards.

    This seems obvious but players give a winnable pot away when all they look at is their own hand. On 3rd street, it is most obvious with stealing opportunities like the example above. On 4th street and later streets, the player who checks a hand when in the "visible" lead often loses the hand.

    Example 5:
    You have (2-3) 5 and raise. Another player with an A showing re-raises you, and you call. On the flop you get an 8, and your opponent hits a 4. He acts first and checks! Is he setting a trap?
    Most likely he is not. Most likely the 4 has paired his hand, so you can bet as you have the lead.

  7. Don't forget to adjust your starting hand requirements for shorthanded play and look to steal more often.

    The value of your exposed card and position increases as the number of players decrease. For example, when you are at a four handed table, the first player to raise with a low exposed card will raise as a steal, as he only has to get past two other players and the bring-in bettor.