When it comes to poker variants, Razz gets a bad rep. Burdened with the stereotypes of being a cranky old man’s game, a fast-track to tilt or an exercise in sheer torture, Razz is actually a fairly simple game to learn. If you can get past the luck factor (which in this game can often times feel compounded when bricks rain on a four-card wheel) and commit to studying the fundamentals, Razz can be an extremely profitable game when played at the lower limits, and an excellent way to grow a bankroll. If you’re bored senseless with no-limit hold’em and are looking to change things up, try a few heads-up Razz sit-n-go's. The variance is lower, the action is swift, and most important, the donkeys are plentiful.
Where can I play?
PokerStars spreads heads-up Razz sit-n-go's with buy-ins starting at $2.20. Players get 1,500 chips to start and the blinds increase every ten minutes. On Full Tilt Poker, both regular and turbo heads-up SNGs are available with the lowest buy-in at $1.10. In the turbos, the blinds go up every three minutes. In regular-speed matches, they increase every six minutes.
Full Tilt also spreads heads-up Razz cash games starting at $1/2 limit; however, low-limit heads-up cash games (below $5/10) cannot be recommended for building a bankroll. No matter how good you are, at those levels the rake will eat your hard-earned roll alive.
Where should I start?
When it comes to bankroll requirements, start with whatever game for which you have 15-20 buy-ins. If you have $25 in your account, start with the $1.10s. With $50-75 try the $2.20s, $5.25s or $6.25s, and with $100-200 go for the $10.50s or $11.50s. The turbo SNGs will take 20-30 minutes to play out while regular ones can take up to 90 minutes.
Should I multitable?
While you’re starting out, try and stick to only one game at a time. If you end up bored out of your mind single-tabling, go ahead and add another, but try not to play more than four at once at these limits, especially on a small bankroll.
How much can I earn?
This year, the top $5.50 heads-up Razz sit-n-go players on Full Tilt have made high four-figure amounts with sample sizes ranging from 10,000 to 20,000 games. At the $11 and $21 levels, some players have netted as much as $40,000 in profit depending on volume. Return on Investment (ROI) varies wildly in the heads-up games. While the top high-volume players average between 7 and 9%, some players have posted ROIs as high as 23% over 10,000 games.
When should I move up?
Move up only if you feel comfortable. By all means, get out of the $1.10 and $2.20 ghetto as fast as possible, but if you’re sustaining a good win rate at the $10.50 or $21 games, proceed with caution when moving up to the next level. While the quality of play doesn’t vary too much between the $2 games and the $21 games, the players at the $33 level have a much stronger skill set.
Now that you've got the basics down, come check us out tomorrow where will bring you some tips from the trenches.