Razz is actually not the easiest form of poker to learn, which is perhaps why it’s not quite as popular as the more widely played variants such as Texas Hold’em and Omaha. People are often put off by the fact that it’s a lowball game, meaning the objective is to make the lowest hand rather than the highest hand. However, once you get used to that aspect of the game, Razz is actually not that difficult to play.
We’ve explained the basic rules of Razz on this page. If you’re interested in trying the game, then we suggest you take a few minutes to read through these so that you know what you’re doing.Once you’re ready to play you might want to look at the following page, which contains more information on this particular form of poker including a list of the best poker sites to play it at – Razz Guide.
If you’re familiar with Seven Card Stud, then you shouldn’t find it too difficult to pick up Razz, as the two games are very similar in the way they are played and the way the betting takes place. The only real difference, which is obviously very significant, is that you want to make the lowest hand you can instead of the highest.
Razz uses a standard 52 card deck and is typically played with a maximum of eight players. Fixed limit betting is most commonly used, rather than no limit or pot limit. During a hand each participating player is dealt a total of seven cards, of which four are dealt face up and three face down. Players use five of their seven cards to create the lowest possible hand that they can.
There are several betting rounds during each hand, which we’ll explain in more detail. All the chips bet during these rounds are placed in the pot. At the end of the hand, the player with the lowest value hand wins those chips. The chips may be shared equally between two or more players, if they tie for the lowest hand. A player can also win the pot if they force all other players to fold at any point.
If you’re new to Razz, then one of the hardest things to understand is the hand rankings. They don’t take much getting used to though, once you know how they work. The first thing you need to know is that straights and flushes don’t count in Razz, so they can be ignored completely. Pairs do count, but it’s very rare that a hand containing a pair will win.
Furthermore, you really need to focus on how the unpaired hands are ranked. The rankings are based first on the highest card, then on the second highest card, then on the third highest, and so on. The lower the highest card, the better the hand is so a hand where the highest card is a six is better than a hand where the highest card is a seven. A seven high hand where the next highest card is a five is better than a seven high hand where the next highest card is a six.
An ace is always considered low, so the best possible hand is 5-4-3-2-A. The next best possible hand is 6-4-3-2-A, and then 6-5-3-2-A. Once you have played Razz for a while, you should find that the hand rankings become second nature to you.
Starting a Hand
A hand starts with each player having to pay an ante which goes straight into the pot. Typically this is between 10% and 20% of the small bet, so in a $5/$10 game you could expect to see a required ante of between $.50 and $1. Each player is then dealt a total of three cards; one face up and two face down. Players can look at their own face down cards at any point.
Another forced bet, known as the bring-in, is then required. This is paid by only one player: the one with the highest ranked exposed card. If more than one player has the highest value exposed card, then suit rankings are used. The bring-in is usually 50% of the small bet and the player can pay a full small bet if they choose.
The first betting round immediately follows the bring-in, starting with the player to the left of the one paying the bring-in and moving around the table in a clockwise direction. Any player wishing to stay in the hand must bet an amount equal to at least one small bet, or higher if any player has previously made a raise. Once all players have called the highest bet, or folded, the round is complete. If only one player remains at this point they automatically win the pot and the hand is over.
A fourth face up card is then dealt to each player and another betting round known as fourth street starts with the player with the highest hand based on their exposed cards. At this stage, and in subsequent rounds, players can opt to check if no bet has been made. Once a bet has been made they must either call that bet, raise it, or fold. Once all players have called the highest bet, or folded, the round is complete. Again, if there’s just one player remaining they automatically win the pot.
A fifth face up card is then dealt to each player and the fifth street betting round takes place. This uses exactly the same format as fourth street betting. A sixth card, also face up, is then dealt, with the sixth street betting round following. This also follows the same format. The seventh and final card for each player is dealt face up and seventh street betting follows, again using the same format.
If there are two or more players remaining at the conclusion of the final betting round, the game moves to showdown.
At showdown, the last player to bet or raise must reveal their best low five card hand. Going round the table in a clockwise direction, the other remaining players then reveal their cards, although they may choose to fold them if they’re beaten. The player that has the best low hand then wins the pot.