Razz’s still my first love

May 29, 2007 12:31 AM

Yes, Carol I have been playing poker for a long time now and plan to play a few more hands of Omaha with the folks at the Orleans before I take my seat in the big game in the sky.

Come to think of it, I may not even go to the big game up there unless they are playing a little Razz or maybe some Omaha 8 and better.

I do not know these days if I play poker for fun or profit; I have been playing poker for over 70 years now and still love to take my seat at the table.

I do know that it is more fun to win than to lose, so I try always to win each time I sit down to play with the folks. But the amount of the win is not important; I already have the job, I do not need to shout.

When I was 17, I volunteered for the United States Navy during World War II. I fought the battle of the bands up and down the coast of Southern California — Long Beach, San Diego the Steel Pier at Pedro, Oceanside and the Palladium in Los Angles (the Hollywood movie stars would come and dance with us at the Palladium).

But I also played a lot of poker in the California card barns with the old guys ”¦ gosh, they must have been 50 years old. But the SPs (Navy’s Shore Patrol) would not let me go into the bars and have a drink. Yet, with my uniform they would let me go right in, sit down and play some poker.

And I always won; I thought I was supposed to win.

Then a few years later I was recalled to active Navy duty during the Korean War and again I won from the United States Navy, but lost it to the Marines — and then won it back again from the Marines.

I have been asked many times about my favorite poker game? I love to play a lot of the different games so I will list them in order.


1. Razz

2. California low-ball

3. Stud 8 and better

4. Stud (seven card)

5. Pot Limit Hold’em

6. No Limit Hold’em

7. Omaha 8 and better


Since it’s at the top of the list, let’s take a closer look at RAZZ.

Razz is played just like seven card stud, except the lowest hand wins the pot!

A, 2, 3, 4 and 5 is the prefect Razz hand and cannot be beaten, only tied. And A, 2, 3, 4 and 6 is second best hand.

To start the hand all must ante. Then each player receives two hold cards and one up card in their personal hand, then three more up and one more down. This makes a total of three cards that only you the player know what they are, and four cards that all the other players may see.

The game is usually played limit, and I have played many times Razz at the $15/30 limit at the old Stardust in Las Vegas.

I have been told that there was a lot of cheating going on in the Razz game, but most of the time I was able to dance through the rain drops. You see, a cheater does not have much chance to win, if you know what he is doing.

I hold several world records in Razz and have won the year-round contest at the Stardust during the Stairway to the Stars in the 1970s and 1980s.

We played a Razz tournament once each week at the Stardust and Bob Thompson (a member in good standing of "The Seniors" Poker Players Hall of Fame) kept computer records of the results. I won the grand prize of $5,000 as the champion of Razz for the year as well as a 10 day cruise to the Greek Islands for two.

Moreover, I hold the WSOP record for final table finishes in Razz and have won the most third place finishes — I finished third three times at the WSOP in Razz.

The game of Razz is not played much anymore, except for very high limit or in mixed games.

Yes, Carol, I remember that a day without Razz for me used to be a day without sunshine

In fact, I was playing Razz the day I met you. You were not playing, but you stopped by to watch for a minute. For me, that day I not only won at Razz, but I won your attention and some 30 years later I have the best Razz prize of all, our late dividend, our beautiful daughter Oklahoma Sarah Hale.

So folks you can see why Razz is my favorite all time poker game!

OK-J Poker
Tip of the Week

In poker, when you miss the straight or flush that you were trying to complete, the saddest words are these, "It could have been."

But please remember that the most important words you will ever utter are the words that you say to yourself, about yourself, when you are by yourself.

So, when you miss that flush be sure you say something nice to yourself, such as "They will deal again and next time I will make my hand, then I will take the money home and count it there."

Until next time, remember to stay lucky.