Review: Play Razz Poker To Win

3 Star

October 15, 2008

Author: Mitchell Cogert – website for the book

Publisher:  Self Published/CreateSpace

This is one of only two books currently in print on the topic of razz poker.  The other is Sklansky on Razz/Sklansky on Poker which I previously reviewed.  There are also a few pages in the lowball section of Supersystem.  I was unaware this book existed, but Mitchell contacted me out of the blue and was kind enough to send me a review copy, so I owe it to him to (belatedly) get around to reviewing it.

This is a relatively short book, but longer than Sklansky’s.  It’s organized in a farily straight forward fashion with some introductory and rules material followed by strategy advice split up by streets of play.  In the introduction Cogert gives some reasonable arguments why one might want to play an unpopular game like razz, but I’m not entirely sure I buy it.  That said, if you’re buying this book it’s presumably because you’re interested in razz, so I suppose it doesn’t really matter why.

I can’t review the strategy advice in this book from an expert position because I don’t play a lot of razz, but it seems to be by and large consistent with Sklansky’s advice, my knowledge of correct razz play, and common sense.  At the very least it should be a reasonably safe place to start.  Cogert does have an advantage over Sklansky in that, since the publicaion of Sklansky on Razz, computer equity simulations have become commonplace.  I think Cogert’s simulations help to put some solid numbers on concepts that were previously more nebulous.

I do have some moderate philosophical differences with this book however.  For example, I’m not a huge fan of starting hand point systems (which the book uses) and conceptually don’t like systems in general for poker. I much prefer presenting background information and underlying concepts as  a means of making correct play intuitive. Cogert’s book isn’t really a failure on this front – there’s some reasonable background info to go with the point system.  I do however feel that the knowledge imparted by point systems is fragile – for example his would fall apart if the table was at all short handed.  This issue continues in the later steet chapters – things feel just a hair too formulaic.

I should also mention that Cogert needs a new joke.  I got tired of his signature “don’t be the azz in razz” catchphrase after about the third time I read it.  If you think I’m wrong, nay humor impaired, and that’s the funniest thing you’ve ever read in print, well, you can buy the t-shirt here.

Overall, I think this book is about on parity with Sklansky on Razz/Poker.  It’s got some upsides and some dowsides.  If you’re seriously studying razz, you should probably buy both.

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