For the uninitiated, lets have a look at this game so that you too can join in the near universal dislike yet grudging acceptance of this poker variant.
A while ago I waxed nostalgic for some of my favorite versions of poker, 7 card stud and midnight baseball to be precise. So how about we talk about a version that people tend to HATE. I am speaking of course about Razz. A terribly frustrating game that people play yet bellyache about the whole while. Not surprisingly, I like this game. I should be careful or before long you readers in cyberspace will being to think me to be some species of poker sadist (or maybe just a masochist).
The rules are very simple. In fact the “rules” are exactly the same as Texas Hold ’em. One small blind to the left of the dealer and another big blind to left of him who places in double the small blind value to start the action. Each player is dealt two cards face down and a round of betting ensues. A flop of three community cards are revealed then another round of betting. A fourth ‘turn” card is shown, betting again, then a fifth “river” card is followed by a final betting round.
The difference is in hand values. They are reversed! Instead of the traditional Pocket Rockets making a player jump for joy, it is now the dreaded 7,2 that lights up the eyes of a razz player. The lowest possible value hand in traditional poker rules, in Razz, is actually of the highest value and vice versa.
This slight variation forces a poker player to shift his mental gears so severely and constantly that the complaints leveled against this game are, I must admit, well justified. It is very psychologically draining to have to constantly second guess oneself in regards to such quick reactions such as excitement when your hole cards pair the board. That millisecond of internal excitement is crushed when you immediately realize your “nothing hand” has just turned into top pair and therefore probably puts you way behind on the table.
This Razz reversal of values can really be applied to any standard poker game, not just hold ’em. If you’ve never tried it, give it a go sometime. It is both frustrating and interesting to play.