Since the 2004 WSOP, Razz became an overnight hit, and many players have become quite fond of the game, especially players who like to play HORSE, as Razz represents the “R” in HORSE. Razz offers a fast-paced poker variation and incorporates an easy strategy. If you’ve never played the game, you’re missing out. Learn how to play this poker game here, and then go try it out. It’s a very lovable game, and once you play it, you’ll likely want more.
If you are familiar with the game 7 Card Stud Hi/Lo, Razz is the same game minus the “Hi.” So, it’s the lowest poker hand, or worst if you prefer to look at it that way, that wins the game. Here’s the basic format of Razz:
Up to eight players are dealt two cards face down and one card face up (this card is the “door card”) at the onset of a hand after all players have put up an ante. The player with the lowest card showing will put up the “bring in” to stimulate action. This is a bet that is equivalent to a portion of the whole bet. This player, being the first to act, can also put up a whole bet if he is confident about his hand. Betting ensues clockwise around the table until it reaches the bring-in position again. From here, the bring-in can complete the whole bet, raise, or fold. This initial round of betting is called “third street”.
Once the round ends, the dealer discards one card, also referred to as “burning” a card, and deals the remaining players one more face up card. This round, called fourth street, involves a different betting structure than the previous one. Instead of the lowest showing card placing the first bet, the highest showing card now is first to act (highest possible hand showing would be AA). If two players have equal high hands, whichever player sits closest to the dealer will bet first. This bettor can bet or fold at the highest amount allowed at the table.
Fifth and sixth streets are carried out in the same structure. After sixth street, all remaining players will be showing four cards. After the burn, a seventh card is dealt on seventh street, but this card is dealt face down. Now all hands include three hidden cards and four showing cards. The final round of betting is carried out until showdown, when all eligible players must show their hands, starting with the last player to bet, and then clockwise from him. The worst five-card poker hand wins in Razz.
Since the best hand in Razz is the worst hand in poker, the best Razz hand would be A/2/3/4/5, also called “the wheel” or the “bicycle.” Aces always count low in Razz, so this hand trumps any other poker hand. While Razz is very seldom won with a pair, a hand containing low pairs does have a chance to win. Unlike 7 Card Stud Hi/Lo, which splits the pot between the highest and lowest hands, in Razz, there is no split pot; the low hand wins all. If two players happen to have equally low hands and are tied for winner, they will then split the pot.
What is important to stay conscious of when you are playing Razz Poker is your opponents’ hands. Frequently check your opponents face up cards. If they seem lower than yours, fold and wait until the next hand to make your move. Good starting hands will have an Ace and at least two unpaired cards with face values of 5 or less.
Razz is a great game for the poker player who doesn’t like to think so much. While changing your thought process to only compute low hands may take some getting used to for some players, once you do get it, this game is really rather easy.
Also, if you are interested in learning to play 7 Card Stud Hi/Lo, Razz is a great place to learn half of that game (the Lo half), especially if you’ve graduated 7 Card Stud Poker. Once you’ve got a nice hold of both Razz and 7 Card Stud, you will be more proficient in 7 Card Stud Hi/Lo Poker (also called Eights or Better, by the way). All three of these games are components of HORSE (along with Hold ‘em and Omaha), so learning them all together will allow you to play HORSE. Or alternatively, playing HORSE will help you learn to play all five of these poker variations at once, but be careful, as HORSE was designed to challenge the best of the best players in poker and is not well-suited for amateurs.