Razzdugi is a split pot game where the object is to make both the best low hand as well as the lowest badugi. It is structured exactly the same as Razz with a stud structure and the highest up card is forced to bring-in the action. Razzdugi is a good substitute for Razz in a mixed rotation because there is more action and players are apt to make costly mistakes.
The goal of this article is to aid you in not being one of those players who are giving their money away. An important concept to begin with is the understanding that it is not hard to make badugis in this game and that the average showdown strength of them is higher.
Drawing to a badugi in Razzdugi
Badugis are much easier to obtain in Razzdugi then straight Badugi because you are not forced to make any discards. Suppose you start out with (A♠ 4♦) 5♣ 8♣ as your first four cards. If you were playing Badugi you would discard the 8♣ and the ten cards you could catch to make a badugi would be the 2♥, 3♥, 6♥, 7♥, 8♥, 9♥, T♥, J♥, Q♥, and K♥. Over the course of three draws you will be successful around 51% of the time. However, when playing Razzdugi you get to keep the 8♣ thus you are also able to make a badugi by getting dealt the 5♥ on 5th street.
That’s only adding one more out but observe what happens if you receive the 4♥ on 5th street. Your hand is (A♠ 4♦) 5♣ 8♣ 4♥ thus you are trying to complete four different three card badugis; the A♠ 4♦ 5♣, A♠ 4♦ 8♣, A♠ 5♣ 4♥, and A♠ 8♣ 4♥. In addition to the eleven outs that you had before you are now able to make a badugi with the following extra cards: 2♦, 3♦, 5♦, 6♦, 7♦, 8♦, 9♦, T♦, J♦, Q♦, and K♦. Your badugi outs have doubled and now have twenty-two with two streets to go.
Even if you do not make a badugi on 6th street, that card will give you even more outs. For example, if you receive the 9♠ this will add the A♥ and the A♦ to the cards that will complete your hand. In this particular example you had a 47% chance of making a badugi with the 6th street card and a 52% chance of making one on the river. Thus over the course of the two streets you had around a 75% chance of making a badugi. [.47 + .52 – (.47*.52)] Different 6th street cards will give you a different amount of new outs but the main takeaway here is that you will make a badugi more often than not.
Since badugis are easier to make there is little value in playing three unpaired high cards simply because you have a three card badugi. This is a very important concept that we will examine in more depth later.
Starting Hand Strategy
Unless you are three suited you should mostly play 3rd street as you would play it in straight Razz. Obviously an unsuited hand such as (2♠ 5♣) 6♥ has more value than its two suited counterpart (2♠ 5♥) 6♥ but the difference is not as pronounced as many people would think and the latter hand is still playable in many situations.
Any of the aces, threes, fours, sevens, and eights would be welcome sights for either of those hands. But in addition to those twenty cards the (2♠ 5♥) 6♥ would also be helped by five others; the 5♦, 5♣, 5♠, 6♣, and the 6♦. Catching any of the fives would be especially welcoming as they would show a strong board in addition to giving you a three card badugi. As your board starts to look more imposing, the chance of winning the pot without a showdown increases greatly.
Premium three suited hands such as (A♦ 2♦) 4♦ can be played as ante steal the antes but also in a multi-way pot especially if the threes, fives, sixes, and sevens appear to be relatively live.
Rainbow hands with a small pair such as (A♠ 3♥) 3♦ also hold a lot of value in stealing situations and in general are more playable than many players consider them to be. The pair is a handicap on the Razz side but as we have discussed earlier it can drastically increase the amount of outs you have on the badugi side. Playing the end through to the end is a backup plan though; your main goal when playing these hands is to either steal the antes or win before showdown with a strong board. Be aware that the two suited version (A♠ 3♥) 3♠ is far less valuable and should only be played when the probability of stealing the antes outright is high.
Razzdugi trap hands are the higher three card badugis such as (2♥ J♣) Q♠. Calling with this hand in a multi-way pot is essentially throwing money out the window. We’ve seen how it is much easier to make a badugi in Razzdugi, so what are the chances that you make your badugi and your opponents either both miss or make a worse one than you? This is assuming that you can get to showdown which will not happen often if the other players are both showing reasonably strong boards. This is a hand no one will play with in either Badugi or Razz but for reasons I cannot explain I’ve seen it played often in Razzdugi.
The (2♥ J♣) Q♠ is a big money loser even if you are the bring-in and are facing a completion from a low card in a steal position. Even if you hit a badugi on the next card things can very quickly go wrong. It’s a much different situation though if you hold a hand like (2♥ 3♣) Q♠. With the two low cards you certainly have enough hand to call a steal raise.
The Object of the Game is to Scoop
As in all split pot games your main objective is to build hands that can scoop, not to continually get yourself in positions simply hoping to get half of the pot. When you call with a few high cards simply because it has a three card badugi you will often get yourself into situations like the following:
Hero: (2♥ J♣) Q♠ 8♦ 7♠
Villain: (A♠ 4♦) 5♣ 9♣ 2♣
You aren’t quite drawing dead for the Razz hand, but you only have a 6% chance of winning that side. On the badugi end your opponent currently has nine outs against your current holding and could pick up a lot more with the 6th street card. If you call on 5th street you are pretty much committed to calling the entire way. Factoring in everything including the small chance of winning the Razz side your badugi needs to hold up around 60-70% of the time and that is probably not the case here.
In general it’s extremely hard for the queen high to get a runout where it could proceed confidently. Suppose that the other player received the 5♥ instead of the 9♣ so that the boards looked like this:
Hero: (2♥ J♣) Q♠ 8♦
Villain: (A♠ 4♦) 5♣ 5♥
Hero may have thought 4th street was great because he made a badugi and even pulled ahead in Razz. Well, except he didn’t pull in front on the Razz side. This may surprise many players but the queen only has a 38% chance of ending up with best Razz hand. The 5♥ was quite a good card for the villain as it doubled the number of outs on the Badugi side and is thus the big favorite on that end as well. Hero is taking way the worst of it.
Of course you can never know for sure what your opponent has in the hole, but the truth of the matter is that you are a favorite against very few holdings. Since it is extremely difficult to be right about going very far with this hand it was a mistake to call 3rd street to begin with.
Now let’s assume that our holding was (2♥ 3♣) Q♠ instead with the same boards as in the first example:
Hero: (2♥ 3♣) Q♠ 8♦ 7♠
Villain: (A♠ 4♦) 5♣ 9♣ 2♣
This is much better situation as you have a strong badugi and its solid favorite to hold up with two streets to go. The calculation is somewhat complicated but since your opponent currently only has six outs you should be around a 70% favorite on that side. On the Razz side the hero is a big underdog but still has a reasonable 26% equity. As the cards lie here, villain may be a slight favorite. But that is with two perfect cards in the hole and rarely does your opponent have that especially from a steal position.
Given all of this a call is certainly warranted but a raise appears to be the stronger play. Some aggressive opponents still have hands as weak as (J♣ J♦) 5♣ 9♣ 2♣ in their range. This is one of those situations where a raise is either slightly wrong or really right. A disciplined fold should be made with the (2♥ J♣) Q♠ on 3rd street but when you have the (2♥ 3♣) Q♠ and appear to get into an advantageous position you should look to punish your opponent.
Adjustments for Super Razzdugi
Super Razzdugi is a variation where each player receives four down cards instead of two; however two of them must be discarded on 3rd street. Since everyone is getting extra cards you should tighten up your starting requirements somewhat and assume most people are starting with a three card badugi.
However, good two suited Razz hands such as (2♥3 ♥) 5♠ are still highly playable. So are hands like (A♠ 4♦) 4♣ because the pair can really add to the amount of badugi outs. If 4th street comes good you will have a good three low, a developing scary board, and a ton of badugi outs.
Razzdugi is a great addition to any mix as it is a nice change of pace, there is usually a decent amount of action, and big mistakes from your opponents are somewhat common. As with any split pot game, your strategic mindset should be one of winning the entire pot. The easiest way to do that is to start out trying to build the best Razz hand and hope to make a badugi along the way.