Rules of Razz Poker
Razz Poker is one of the oldest varieties of poker games and has been there at least for the past 100 years. If you have never played it, you might be wondering, ‘what is Razz poker like?’ Actually, it is not much different from 7-card Stud poker. The major difference of Razz poker is that the player with the lowest value hand is the winner and not the one with the highest hand. The Ace also carries a lower value. The usual Straights and Flushes have no value. Thus, the best hand in Razz Poker is 5, 4, 3, 2, A, which is known as the ‘Wheel.’ Razz is usually played with a 52-card deck.
Some fundamental rules that make Razz Poker distinct are:
- The player with the least hand value wins.
- The Ace has a lower-end value.
- Straights and Flushes are ignored.
- For each betting round, up to 4 raises are allowed.
- The game involves a total of 7 cards per player, of which 3 are Hole cards, and 4 are Door cards.
- Usually, there are no Community cards (Shared cards) in Razz.
Razz Poker: How to play the game
Razz Poker may be played with No-limit, Fixed-limit, or Pot-limit variations. In fixed-limit Razz poker rules, the bet value is fixed, and no player can bet a random wager amount. Usually, the first two betting rounds are played with a lower bet limit, say $2, and the remaining rounds with a higher bet limit, say $4. The following steps will show you how to play Razz poker:
There is an ‘Ante’ bet of a small amount for all players at the beginning, i.e., before the cards are dealt. Usually, its value is one-fifth of the lower limit. However, there are no ‘blinds’ unlike in Hold’em poker.
Each player is dealt an initial set of three cards, of which two are face-down (Hole cards) and one face-up (Door card). A betting round called the ‘Third Street’ follows next. The player with the worst Door card, i.e., the card with the highest value, starts the bet. They can make a ‘Bring in,’ which is the same value as the ‘Ante,’ or the lower limit bet, which is usually around 5 times of Ante value ($2 in our example). Other players can then have the options to Call, Raise or Fold.
After the third street betting round, each player receives one more card face up. Another betting round called the ‘Fourth Street’ follows. The betting is done with the lower limit as per the Razz poker rules.
Each player is dealt one more face-up card each. Yet another betting round called ‘Fifth Street’ follows, but the betting is with the upper fixed limit ($4 in our example).
Each player is dealt one more Door card. And there is one more betting round with the upper limit (Sixth Street).
Now the final card is served to each player, which completes seven cards for each player. This card is dealt face down (Hole card), which is followed by the final betting round called the ‘Seventh Street.’
This is the stage that picks the winner. If more than one player remains at this stage, each player tries to choose the best five cards from all seven cards in hand to make their final hand. Now, in Razz poker, the best hands are the ones with the lowest values; so, the player with the hand having the least value wins the game.
Razz Hand Rankings
In Razz poker hand rankings calculation, the lower your card values, the better. As mentioned above, this is a game where the lowest hand wins, unlike many other Poker varieties. Hence the best hand can be the card combination of A, 2, 3, 4, and 5. There is no lower hand than this possible in Razz poker, considering that the Ace is counted as an equivalent of ‘1.’ Razz poker hand ranking is simple as Straights or Flushes are not counted.
Razz Poker Strategy and Tips
Here are the most basic Razz poker tips that can help you win a game or at least stay safe:
- Watch the Face-up cards. Always keep track of all the cards whose values are visible to you. You have to use some skill in evaluating the scenario and play prudently.
- Raise judiciously. If you have a good start with excellent cards, consider ‘raising.’ It could prompt some players with a poor hand to fold, which is advantageous for you.
- Fold at the right time. Be watchful and fold at the right time. If you have too many cards of high value and it looks like you are going to lose the round, it’s time to fold because Razz poker is a game of low-value cards.
- Hone your skills. Razz is a game of skill as much as of luck. Learn not only new tips and tricks but also take time to practice them. You may use a poker simulator to practice, especially if you are a beginner.
Razz poker has similarities with 7-Stud poker and will be easy for those who are used to it. Like in any poker game, the outcome is highly dependent on your skills. Learning new skills and continuously sharpening them is imperative if you want to become a winning Razz poker player.