Introduction to Razz Poker
Razz poker, also called Seven Card Stud Low, is a poker game in which a player with the lowest Ace to Five card wins. Razz is one of the oldest versions of poker, and it is believed that it originated sometime at the beginning of the 20th century. Razz is also one of the first poker games that used a full 52-card deck instead of the 20-card one that was used earlier.
Although it’s not as popular as Texas Hold’em or Omaha, Razz poker is still present in poker rooms all over the world and enjoyed by millions of players. The game is often seen on online poker and casino sites and it’s available both for social play and real money gambling. Razz also represents the “R” in a multi-poker game of H.O.R.S.E.
In this review, we will share with you detailed information on general Razz poker rules, tell you how the game is played, which limits it is played with, and more.
Razz uses a regular 52-card deck and can be played with up to eight players. Each player is dealt seven cards and tries to make the best possible five-card combination. The card ranking in Razz uses the California system, which means that low cards carry more value than high ones. Ace is always counted as a low card in Razz. Also, Flushes and Straights don’t count against a player’s hand.
That means the best possible hand in Razz poker is a 5-low – 5, 4, 3, 2, A (also called “the wheel” or “the bicycle”). It’s the lowest hand and it always wins. The ranking goes from the highest card downwards. So, for example, a K, Q, J, 10, 9 hand will lose to a Q, J, 10, 9, 8 hand.
If the hands are unpaired and the highest card is the same for two or more players, the winning hand is decided by the next highest card. For example, if a player has 6, 4, 3, 2, A, he/she will win against a hand consisting of 6, 5, 4, 3, 2 because a 4 is ranked higher than a 5 in this situation.
Playing Razz takes a little time to get used to, especially if you’re accustomed to Texas Hold’em or other poker variations that reward high cards instead and where the Ace is always high.
How to Play Razz Poker
Now that we’ve explained the main rules of Razz poker, it’s time for you to learn how the game is actually played.
As we mentioned earlier, the game of Razz can have up to eight players at the table. Since there are only 52 cards and seven streets, there is a possibility for the cards to run out before the last street. In that case, the dealer will put one card that will serve as a community card for all players face up.
If two or more players have the exact same hand, the tie is broken by the highest card’s suit. The suits in Razz are ranked from the highest to the lowest: spades, hearts, diamonds, and clubs. For example, if player one has a Jack of diamonds as a high card and player two with the identical hand has a Jack of clubs, it means that player one has a better hand.
However, this rule is only applied when it comes to bring-in bets and doesn’t hold any merit in determining the pot winner. If two or more players have identical hands at the showdown, the pot is equally split among them.
Here is how a typical round of Razz poker goes down:
- Ante – Before the cards are dealt, each player must chip in with the ante. The amount of the ante can differ depending on the limit of the table and its amount will usually rise as the game progresses.
- Third street – After the ante, each player is dealt three cards — one exposed and two face down. The player with the highest exposed card begins the action and makes a bet. Other players then choose to bet or fold and the action moves in a clockwise direction.
- Fourth street – In the fourth street, each player receives another card that is dealt face up. Now, a player with the strongest combination of exposed cards starts another round of betting.
- Fifth street – The fifth street is the same as the fourth street. The remaining players are dealt cards face up and the player who has the best hand starts a betting round.
- Sixth street – The same rules apply as in the previous two streets. Note that with each street, the minimum bet increments increase.
- The river – Also called the seventh street, this is where all remaining players receive yet another final card that is dealt face down. The final betting round is started by the player who has the best hand out of his/her exposed cards.
- The showdown – Once the final betting round is over, players are required to show all of their cards. The first player to show cards is the one who made the last bet. In case there were no bets on the river, the player at the earliest seat from the dealer needs to show his/her cards first. The player with the best hand wins, while ties result in a split pot.
Betting options in Razz are just like in other familiar poker variants. You can check, call, bet, raise, or fold.
Variations of Razz Poker
Razz is typically played with a fixed betting limit. That means the bets and raises are limited by a predetermined amount. The limits are lower on the third and fourth streets and increase in the last two rounds of betting.
For example, if you are playing a $2/$4 limit game, that specifies the first two rounds of betting may only include bets and raises up to $2, while a $4 limit applies to the sixth street and the river. These amounts are referred to as small and big bets. In Razz, players are sometimes allowed to choose between the small and big bet on the fourth street.
The raises are usually capped at four bets. So if you bet $2 and the player next in line raises with another $2, while player three raises once more, you’re allowed to raise one final time. After that, the players may only call if they want to continue.
Fixed limit betting keeps things interesting and makes the game longer. Having no “all-in” bets makes it a little more difficult to bluff and scare other players off. Pot limit and no limit Razz games can also be played, but they are rare.
One version of the game called London Lowball has slightly different rules and is usually not played with a fixed limit. The goal of London Lowball is to avoid Straights and Flushes as they do count against your hand. So a 5, 4, 3, 2, A hand will lose to 6, 4, 3, 2, A since the latter is the best possible hand in this situation. London Lowball is typically played at pot limit, but some games also include no limit betting.
Razz is one of the most popular poker games and casino games in general. It is often seen in casino rooms around the world and you can also find many places where to play it online. If you’re familiar with Stud poker, you will easily get the hang of this game.
We hope that this article was helpful and that you are now familiar with the rules and you know how to play Razz. Just like any other poker game out there, Razz requires a lot of practice and learning mathematical combinations since it’s based more on skill than on luck.