Razz Board Texture and Up Cards
written by: John
One of the most important tools that a poker player can have at his disposal isn't the newest poker book, strategy article or pro tip; no, the best tool that a poker player can have is information. Information in poker is important because often times this information is 'real-time' info on how a poker player played a hand, reacted to a certain situation or maybe even how they act under stress. Players can use information like this to make better decisions that are based on reasoning far beyond just the simple mechanics and math of poker.
A type of game that demonstrates the importance of gaining information is 7-card Stud Low, commonly known as 7-card Razz or Razz Poker. This game doesn't necessarily rely solely on information gained from a player's opponents, but relies heavily on information using the board texture of a player's up cards. This information can tell a player if he has a chance to win the pot, if he is drawing dead or if he is somewhere in between and is single-handedly the most important aspect in Razz poker.
For those of you that would like to learn more about board texture in Razz and why it is so important, we have provided some examples for you below.
Razz Poker Up Cards
The goal in Razz poker is for a player to have the best 5-card low hand that has no pairs with hands such as flushes and straights having no affect to the value of the hand. The best hand that a player can aim for is an A thru 5 which is commonly known as a 'wheel' or 'bike.'
The first thing that a player will want to do when they are first dealt their cards is look around to everyone else's door cards to see which cards are 'dead' and which cards are alive. In Razz, dead cards are cards that are not available to you because they are in the hands of your opponents and alive cards are cards that are in the deck as far as you know and can be dealt to you. Evaluating everyone's door cards is important because this is the first step to determining what your hand is worth. This same practice will be done on each street to ensure that your hand is still as good as it once was.
Here are a few examples to better demonstrate what we mean.
• Your Hand: Ad-2s-[4c] | Door Cards of 8 Opponents: [2d] - [4h] - [Kc] - [10h] - [5c] -[7s ]- [Jc] - [8c]
In this hand here, you have an excellent starting hand. What makes this hand even better is that the 2d and 4c is now 'dead' to you. Meaning, you cannot catch them since they are in the hands of your opponents which ultimately means that there are 2 less cards that can pair your hand. As we mentioned above, pairs are a bad thing so it is good that they are 'dead' outs.
The slight downside to this hand is all the other low cards out there, especially the 5 that we cannot catch. Of course, we still have plenty of 'alive' outs that are available to us including four 3's, three 5's, four 6's, three 7's and three 8's. So our hand is still extremely strong.
• Your Hand: 5d-6s-[7h] | Door Cards of 8 Opponents: [Ah]-[2s]-[2d]-[3c]-[5c]-[Kd]-[Js]-[4h]
Our hand here first looked playable at first, but now after looking out all of our opponent's up cards, we are not so sure. The reason for that is that we are looking for preferably all baby cards to be dealt to us so we can try to draw to a low. However, so many of our needed outs are 'dead' which means our hand will be that much harder to make and makes our current starting hand that much weaker.
With our last example, let's get a little bit more creative.
• Your Hand: 5c-Ad-[9h]-7d | Door Cards of 8 Opponents: [Ah]-[2d]-[7s]-[3s]-[3c]-[Qs]-[Jh]-[4c] | Opponent 1: x-x-[3d]-[4c]
Ok, aside from that fact that you are probably behind in this hand, let's look at what cards are available to you in case you actually want to try to draw out on him.
If you can, try to cover the door cards of the rest of the opponents in the hand. If they were not involved in the hand, meaning that they folded, those cards would not be left out for you to see. Once you cover all these cards, try to remember what cards are available to you. It is difficult isn't it? But this information is crucial in making a good decision on whether or not you should move forward in this hand or not.
Its ok, you can look now. This hand isn't really any good for us because our opponent has a 3-4 showing which we would also more than likely need to beat him. That, and there is another 3 that was in someone else's door as well as a 2. So, we are missing a lot of cards that could make our hand better. If there were any heavy action, this would be a fold for sure.
What players should take from this is how important that information is and how they really need it to determine the strength of their hand.
Board Texture in Razz
Hopefully it has become a bit clearer how important the little information we get in poker is to us, especially in terms of up cards in Razz. It is very important that players become well versed in how to soak that information up like a sponge so that they can be sure to have the information needed to make difficult decisions in Razz and Stud based games.