How to Play Razz Poker

It’s not really known when Razz Poker first came into the picture, but this game has been played amongst avid fans of poker for many years, commonly featured in the schedule of nearly every WSOP series since the early 70s. Although Razz is not as popular as poker games like Texas Hold’em, it has seen somewhat of resurgence mainly due to the fact that mixed games such as H.O.R.S.E. have become more popular in online poker sites.

Razz is a seven-card stud poker game where the goal is to make the best possible low hand using any combination of seven cards that are dealt to each player. Hence, this game is commonly referred to as 7 Card Stud Low. If you’ve ever played seven-card stud before, you’ll find that the game shares a lot of similarities in terms of how it’s played. You’re essentially playing seven-card stud, but the hand rankings are the exact opposite.

Razz Poker Rule Basics

This variation of poker is typically played with two to eight players. The best Razz Poker hand is A-2-3-4-5 – also known as a ‘wheel’. Aces count as a low card, and any flushes and straights you’re holding at showdown are not counted. You’re not trying to make big hands like full houses or royal flushes here, it’s only the rank of the cards that counts.

The Betting Rounds in Razz

Since Razz is a stud game it’s played with a fixed-limit betting structure. Betting occurs in five different betting rounds, with every player forced to pay an ante before the hand begins. At the start of the game, all players are dealt two hole cards face down and one card face up (called the door card).

After the initial three cards have been dealt to each player at the table, the player with the highest exposed card must “bring-in”, and is forced to make the mandatory low limit first bet. Assuming no other player at the table raises in the first round of betting, this player would not have to invest any more in the pot to see the next card. If two or more players share the highest-ranked door card, the “bring-in” is then determined by suit, with the order of the suit ranking as follows: spades, hearts, spades, and clubs.

During the different betting rounds in razz, players must either bet, raise, or fold, and there is a maximum of up to three raises allowed in any round of betting, and this includes the opening bet. If during the first betting round only one player is left, they win the pot, but if there are two or more players, the next card is dealt and another round of betting takes place.

In the first two betting rounds the bets are equal to the low limit bet size. However, in the next three betting rounds the bets are increased to the high limit bet size, or double the low limit bet amount. For example in a $3/$6 Razz Limit game, all the bets and raises during the first 3 betting rounds must be $3, and the bets/raises must be $6 for the final 3 betting rounds. In the fifth and final betting round, each player still involved in the hand is dealt their last card face down and there is another round of bets. Then a showdown takes place, and any player who has not folded up until this point will have to show their cards to win the pot.

Keep in mind, when you are playing Razz, you are looking to make the best low hand to win the pot, so starting hands like pocket K-K, and Q-Q, which would be monsters in a seven-card stud game, aren’t that valuable to play.

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Founder/CEO of MDG, professional writer, and sports handicapper as well as small stakes poker player.

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