If you are familiar with Stud games, learning how to play Razz will come easily to you, as it is simply a lowball variation of Seven Card Stud. However, for those who have never played Stud before, reading this article will familiarize you with basic rules of this fun and exciting game that is popular among pros and amateurs, and represents the “R” in mixed games such as H.O.R.S.E.
Just like most poker games, the object of Razz (also sometimes called Seven Cards Stud Low) is to create the best five card poker hand. However, in Razz, players are competing for the best low hand rather than a traditional high hand. It is important to note that Razz hands are ranked differently than in other Lowball games like Deuce to Seven Triple Draw. First, aces are low in Razz which makes them extremely valuable. Also, flushes and straights are ignored and therefore do not count against your hand. Keeping these two rules in mind, it should be obvious that the best Razz holding is A-2-3-4-5, which is known as a “wheel.” These are the lowest five cards in Razz and because the straight is ignored, it is superior to any other hand.
All Stud games are typically played eight handed, and Razz is no exception. It is usually played with structured betting limits, meaning that players must make bets and raises in predetermined increments. Play begins when each player posts an ante, which is a small amount that is used to seed the pot. Next, every player is dealt a total of three cards. One of these initial cards is dealt face up (called an up card) and the other two are dealt face down (called down cards or hole cards). This is called Third Street.
The player who is showing the highest ranking up card is required to post a “bring-in” which is a small amount that is predetermined by the stakes of the game and is smaller than a complete bet. Beginning with the players sitting on their immediate left, the first betting round begins. Players can “complete” the bet by putting in a full bet amount, raise, or fold and forfeit their hand. The action goes clockwise around the table until all players have acted on their hands.
Next comes Fourth Street, in which every player is now dealt another up card. Betting now begins with the player who has the best two card Razz hand showing. Because Razz hands are low and not high, a player showing 3-8 would act first as opposed to a player showing a pair.
When the Fourth Street betting round is complete, another up card is dealt to each player on Fifth Street. Again, the player exposing the best Razz poker hand is first to act and the betting continues clockwise, this time with the betting limits doubled to “big bets,” which remain larger during all subsequent betting rounds.
Sixth Street is now dealt, which is the final up card players will receive. To review, all players will now be holding two hole cards and four up cards. Again, whoever is exposing the best Razz hand will act first and the betting will continue clockwise.
Finally, Seventh Street is dealt face down. Players now have three hole cards and four exposed up cards. One last betting round begins in the same fashion, before a Showdown is reached. Players then compare their holdings in order to determine who has the best Razz hand. The pot is pushed to the winner and the hand is now comple