3rd Street in Razz

written by: John

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When a poker player is learning a new poker game, nothing will ever be as important as learning the most simplest of fundamentals and strategies. This is generally because if the most basic fundamentals such as starting hands or betting techniques are ignored or neglected, then it can end up costing the player tons of money in mistakes made. It also makes their learning curve much steeper since they are learning how to play without having these fundamentals as a base to work off.

One game in particular, Razz Poker, is a game where it is very important to have an understanding of the basics such as starting hands and door cards to ensure you limit your mistakes thus limiting the amount of money that you lose which is typical when learning a new game.

Razz Poker - 3rd Street

On 3rd street in Razz poker, each player is dealt 3 cards one at a time with the last card known as the 'door card' face up. The goal here is to start with the best 3 cards possible so that players can try to draw to the best 5 card low hand with the best low possible being an ace thru 5 which is also known as a 'wheel' or a 'bike.' Pairs will hurt the hand while straights and flushes will not.

Starting Hands

In my humble opinion, your starting hand selection is probably the most important decision that you will ever make. This is simply because the starting hands you choose start to define or shape how the rest of the hand will pan out. Using a hold'em hand as an example, what would you hope to shape or define on the flop starting with a hand such as Js-6c or 10d-5s? Probably not a whole lot I would imagine. But you can start to shape a hand with starting hands such as A-K, A-Q or any pocket pair. Do you see the difference?

Ok, but we are talking about Razz here, huh. Since the goal in Razz is to make the best 5-card low hand with a wheel being the best, it would only make sense to start with hands that have 3 'wheel' cards in them. With that in mind, here are the best Razz poker hands to start with.

• A-2-3
• A-2-4
• A-3-4
• A-3-5
• A-4-5

Technically, any 3 cards that is lower than 8 are arguably 'ok' starting hands. As a beginning player however, I would suggest starting with hands that have at least two wheel cards in them to make your decisions on later streets much easier and the likeliness that your hand will be the best that much higher. Any pair in your hand or just about any card that is above an 8 should be folded. However, a few exceptions are listed below in the 'stealing antes' sections.

Door Cards

Next to starting hands in Razz, door cards are the next important concept to understand. As we mentioned above, 'door cards' are the 3rd card dealt which is dealt face up for the whole table to see. This provides an interesting twist to the game but more importantly, it provides lots of information to all of the players.

The information that door cards provide players with is, is knowing what cards are 'dead' for them in terms of outs and which ones are 'alive.' For example, if you had A-2-[3] and noticed that the 7 other door cards were A-6-K-10-J-2-3-9, then you would know that the possibility of you pairing one of your cards is much slimmer (good thing) because 3 of the cards that could hurt you are 'dead,' meaning that they are in the hands of your opponent. A good thing to catch from your opponent's door cards is that the cards you do want, a 4 and a 5, are all still 'alive' in the deck somewhere in which case you can hope that they are dealt to you.

Door cards as well as all other up cards will prove to be quite useful to use because there will be times where you have a great starting hand or draw but can figure out based on the cards that are showing whether it is feasible that you will catch your 'alive' outs. You will save tons of money in the long run as long as you pay attention to these door cards.

Stealing Antes

Door cards are also great because they can disguise your other two cards which can allow you to make periodic stabs at the antes in hopes to pick up dead money.

For example, if you were the 2nd to last person to act and had a 4 in the door while your opponents had a 7 and 9 in their door respectively, you should be able to make a raise and steal the antes regardless of what kind of hand you have, be it trips (very bad) or 2-3-[4].

Being able to spot the situations where you can steal the antes based on your door card will definitely prove to be profitable over the long run. If anything else, picking up all that dead money essentially buys you an orbit of antes.

3rd Street Strategy in Razz Poker

In any kind of game whether it is Hold'em, Omaha, Stud Hi/Lo or Razz, it is imperative that players learn the basics such as starting hands, various betting techniques or other basic strategies to ensure that the learning curve they have is as small as possible. The smaller the learning curve, the higher the profit margin and no poker player will argue with that.