Razz poker is one of the oldest poker games, having been played since the introduction of the 52-card deck in the early 1900s. Sometimes known as Seven-Card Stud Low, Razz poker is unique amongst most poker variants in that it doesn’t use traditional hand rankings. Instead, the aim of Razz is to get the lowest possible hand.
Our guide will teach you how to play Razz poker, some of the strategies you should consider implementing, and how you can enjoy this classic poker game online.
Razz Poker Rules
The structure of Razz is identical to Seven-Card Stud. Every time players are dealt cards, a round of betting follows, and any remaining players are in turn dealt additional cards. If you’re familiar with playing Omaha Hi-Lo poker or Stud hi-lo poker, variants where the pot is split between the highest and lowest hand, you’ll have an easy time learning Razz.
Step 1 - The Ante
Every game of Razz starts with all players making an initial, or Ante, bet. As a Stud poker variation, Razz is typically played as a fixed-limit game, with three main types of bets. The Big Bet is usually twice the value of the Small Bet, with the Ante being 10% of the value of the Big Bet. As an example, if the Big Bet of a game is $2, the Small Bet would be $1, and the Ante would be 20 cents.
Step 2 - The Deal
After the Ante bets have been made, every player receives three cards: two face-down cards (also known as “downcards” or “hole cards”) and one face-up card (otherwise known as “upcards” or “door cards”). Following the deal, there is a round of betting, which starts with the player with the highest door card. In the event of a tie, suits determine which cards are higher. The suits, ranked from highest to lowest, are spades, hearts, diamonds and clubs.
The best starting hand to have in a game of Razz is A-2-3, as this is the lowest possible combination a player can receive. Pairs are always viewed as high; a hand with a pair of Aces would be considered higher than even a hand with a Queen and King.
Step 3 - Fourth Street
In Razz poker, the majority of rounds where players receive additional cards are known as “streets”. Players receive their fourth card during Fourth Street, their fifth card during Fifth Street, and so on.
One card is discarded or “burned” from the top of the deck before the cards are dealt; during streets, all cards are dealt face-up. After players receive their cards, there is another round of betting. For the rest of the game, the first player to act in betting rounds is the player with the lowest door cards.
Step 4 - Fifth Street
Players are dealt another face-up card, and there is another round of betting.
Step 5 - Sixth Street
Players are dealt their fourth and final face-up card, followed by another round of betting.
Step 6 - The River
In the River (also known as Seventh Street), players are dealt one final hole card. At this point, every remaining player should have four door cards and three hole cards. Using any combination of these cards, players make the lowest five-card hand that they can. There is one final round of betting, after which any remaining players advance to the Showdown.
Step 7 - The Showdown
The Showdown is where any remaining players reveal their hands. The last bettor or raiser is the first one to show their hand; however, if the final round featured no bets, the player in the earliest seat goes first. The Sportsbook is the best Ace to five low hand; in the event that two or more hands have the same value, the pot is split evenly among those players.
Betting in Razz Poker
In Razz poker, there’s a set amount that can be bet per player per round. This is otherwise known as limit betting. Razz poker rules state that it is a fixed-limit game, similar to seven card stud. This means the bet amount is always the same, and players simply choose whether or not to bet. The only exception to this is the starting bet.
To start the gameplay, players are each dealt one card face up. The player with the best razz hand places a first bet which is usually equal to half or one-third of the fixed-limit bet amount. The next player can either choose to call the bet or complete it by raising. The first player can also choose to bet the full amount, or ‘complete the bet’. From there, the betting continues in regular increments.
Hand Rankings in Razz Poker
Unlike other poker games, in Razz poker the lowest hand—or ‘worst’ hand—wins. When you’re evaluating hands, here are the razz poker rules you should remember:
What’s the Best Razz Poker Hand?
In this game, the straights and flushes don’t count, so the best possible winning hand you could get is the A-2-3-4-5, which is also known as the wheel.
What are the Seven Best Starting Hands in Razz Poker?
The seven best starting hands in Razz poker are as follows:
Razz Poker Strategy
Pay Close Attention to Shown Cards
Learning how to play Razz poker also involves learning to keep track of any cards that have been shown or discarded. If you know what’s actively in play, you can make better decisions about whether to keep playing or fold. If you’re holding an Ace, there is an Ace as a door card and one Ace as a burn card, that tells you that there is one Ace unaccounted for - if the game is still ongoing, it may still be in the deck, or it might be a hole card for another player.
Keeping track of where all 52 cards are might seem challenging, but the information it provides is essential if you want to stay in the game for as long as you can.
Try to Steal Antes
A general-purpose strategy that players should attempt is to play aggressively and try to force players to fold early in the game. While the ante bets aren’t as big as the final pot would be, they can still add up to significant winnings. After the initial deal, if your door card is lower than the door cards of other players, consider going on the offensive and raising. As some players are likely to fold after the initial deal, bluffing a strong hand can be a great way to end the game early and in your favor.
Don’t Tilt Over Bad Beats
Because the goal of Razz poker is so specific, a good standing hand can become substantially weaker very quickly. One of the keys to playing Razz effectively is to accept that things can’t always go your way, and getting upset over it can actually lead to you playing poorly. Take things in stride and roll with the punches.
How to Play Razz Poker Online
Playing Razz poker online is a great way to strengthen your skills while having fun. While Razz is a classic poker game, many online casinos and poker rooms prefer to offer Omaha poker and Texas Hold’em poker as their primary game types. As a result, finding a website to play Razz on may be the most difficult part of playing online. However, we’d also encourage you to look around and assess various casinos or poker rooms that offer Razz, instead of just signing up at the first one you find. Different websites offer different banking options, bonuses, and even deposit amounts, so it’s worth taking the time to find the one which will be best for you.
Signing up at an online casino or poker room is always a straightforward process - just enter and confirm your information. Some websites may ask you to verify your information via email, while others may send you an SMS code. Once you’ve signed up, you may need to provide additional information so that you can withdraw any winnings you accrue, though you typically don’t need to do so until you actually want to make a withdrawal.
After you’re logged into your online casino or poker room of choice, you should head over to the Cashier and make your first deposit. Having money in your account will allow you to play real money poker, though there may also be free options available.
Lastly, you may be asked to download software if you’re playing at a poker room; online casinos generally use web clients for their games. There’s not much difference between either approach, although downloaded software might be a bit more secure. No matter how you choose to play, ensure that you have a strong internet connection before you do - you don’t want to lose a hand or get kicked out of a game because your signal dropped.
Razz Poker FAQ
What does Razz mean in poker?
Razz is the name given to a type of poker which would otherwise be known as Seven Card Stud Low. Razz has been featured in most every World Series of Poker event since 1971, but significantly grew in popularity in 2004, when the WSOP's Razz tournament was broadcast on ESPN.
How do you win at Razz?
In order to win in Razz poker, a player needs to make the lowest five-card hand they have from the seven cards they are dealt. The Ace always plays low, so the best hand one can play in Razz poker is 5-4-3-2-A. Generally, players should play unpaired cards that are lower than 8s.
How do Razz pairs work?
As opposed to other poker varieties, pairs are something that you'll want to avoid in Razz Poker. Pairs are always considered high, which works against you in a lowball game like Razz. For instance, a hand with a pair of 2s would be considered higher than a hand with a King and no pairs. If you are dealt a hand with a pair, you may wish to fold.
Do suits matter in Razz?
In the majority of cases, suits don't matter in Razz Poker. The only situation where suits matter in Razz is if more than one player has a king after the initial deal. In this case, the player with the highest-ranking king has to post the bring-in. The suits are ranked from highest to lowest as spades, hearts, diamonds, and clubs.