How to Play Razz Poker: Complete Guide with Full Razz Rules and Gameplay Examples
This guide will contain everything you need to know about Razz poker. A game of Razz has somewhat unusual rules, but you only need a simple tutorial like this one to learn how to play it.
By reading my guide and getting some practice, you are sure to become a true pro at Razz poker.
Here are some of the main things that this article will cover:
Let’s count our chips and begin, shall we?
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Once you get familiar with Razz poker rules, you should play the game for real money at one of many poker websites.
Saving you the trouble of finding Razz poker sites for yourself, we have created a list of the absolute best poker operators on the web. Apart from Razz, these sites offer other popular poker variants like Texas Hold’em, Omaha, 5-Card Draw, 7-Card Stud and others.
What Is Razz Poker?
Razz is a form of low poker. Instead of gunning for poker hands like a royal flush or four of a kind, Razz rewards players that have the lowest possible hand. Straight and flushes don’t count against players’ hands, which makes the game even easier to follow. Also, all Aces count as low cards.
Players in Razz will be hoping to have everything unpaired or create any hands that are considered good in other, more common variations of poker.
There are two ways in which a player can win a round of Razz:
- Have the lowest hand at the showdown;
- Have every other player fold before the showdown.
If a round of Razz reaches the showdown, a winner is a player that has the lowest five-card combination.
Razz can be seen as the upside-down version of 7-card Stud. So, if you know how to play 7-Card Stud, learning to play Razz would be a piece of cake. However, I am going to assume that you are not familiar with either of these poker versions and explain Razz rules to you from scratch.
How to Play Razz Poker — Step-by-Step Guide
The game of Razz is played with a standard 52-card deck. Since there are a lot of cards being dealt during every round, a Razz table can only involve a maximum of eight players, as opposed to ten like in Texas Hold’em.
Here is how to play a typical round of Razz poker from ante bets to showdown.
The Dealer Button and the AnteJust like almost every other poker game, Razz uses a dealer button to determine the order in which the cards are dealt. The button moves in a clockwise direction after each round.
In a land-based casino or a tournament, a professional dealer will deal the cards to all players. However, if you’re playing in a home setting, the button will also indicate a player whose turn is to deal in that round.
Before the cards are dealt, each player must put down a nominal bet known as the ante. Unlike in other poker forms, Razz poker does not have small and big blind bets.
Third Street (First Betting Round)After the antes have been collected, the dealer will give each player three cards — two cards face-down and one card face-up. The face-up card is also referred to as the door card. There are no community cards in Razz poker.
The first betting round (called the third street because everyone has three cards) starts from the player that has the worst door card.
Remember, the cards that are high in 7-Card Stud are now low and vice versa. This means that, if a player gets a King and all others have lower cards, the player with a King starts the betting round.
If two or more players have the same highest door card, a tie-break is decided by a suit of that card in the following order:
- Clubs (best)
- Spades (worst)
Razz poker is a limit game, meaning that the bets are capped at a predetermined amount. The first player can do three things to start the round:
- Fold (surrender their cards)
- Bring-in (bet the amount equal to the ante)
- Complete (make a small bet that usually equals 5x the ante).
Apart from the ante and the small bet, there’s also a big bet that’s usually twice the size of the small bet. A player still to act can make a big bet only if one or more players made a small bet or a big bet behind them. If a player only bet a bring-in, the next player can either fold, call that bring-in, or raise with a small bet.
Players take turns at betting in a clockwise direction until they agree on the same bet or if all but one player folds.
Fourth StreetAfter the first betting round is complete, the dealer will give each of the remaining players one more card facing up.
The fourth street betting starts with the player who has the best two-hand combination. In other words, the two lowest unpaired cards, since pairs go against a player’s hand.
A hand in Razz poker is as low as the highest card in a combination. So, if one player has a 5 and a 4, their hand is lower than the hand of someone who has a 2 and a 6.
Bets are now made in the increments equal to the small bet and the big bet. There are no bring-in bets on the fourth street.
Fifth StreetThe fifth street follows the same course of action as the fourth street. The dealer gives each player another face-up card, and the betting starts from a player with the best hand at that moment.
The only thing that’s different on the fifth street is the betting. The bets are now made using an increased fixed limit.
So, for example, if the small bet and the big bet were $5 and $10 prior to the fifth street, now they will be increased to $10 and $20, respectively.
Sixth StreetSixth street is identical to the fifth street. Another face-up card is dealt, and the fixed betting limit remains the same.
Of course, as more cards are being revealed, players can already get a hint of what their and other players’ five-card combinations will look like in the end.
Seventh StreetThe seventh street in Razz poker is a little different than all previous rounds because now all remaining players receive a card that’s facing down. So, in total, each player who reaches the seventh street will have four face-up cards and three face-down cards.
Another betting round takes place, and if two or more players still haven’t folded their hands, the winner is decided at the showdown.
The ShowdownAfter the final betting round, all remaining players collect their cards and make up their best five-card combination.
The winner is a player with the lowest possible combination. Straight and flushes don’t count, so other than breaking a tie, the suits don’t play any role in the game.
Razz Poker Rules — Hand Rankings
Hands in Razz poker are named according to the highest card in that hand.
So, a hand that has 2, 3, 5, 7, and 9 is called 9-high. Naturally, the best possible hand in Razz is A, 2, 3, 4, 5. This hand is called the nuts or the lowball straight. Remember, all Aces count as low, and straights and flushes don’t go against a player’s hand.
But how do you decide a winner if two or more hands have the same high card? Simple! You just move on to the next highest card to break the tie.
Let’s say that Player 1 has 2, 4, 7, 8, 10. Player 2 has 2, 5, 6, 8, 10. Both hands are 10-high, and both players have an 8 as their next highest card. The winner in this particular situation is Player 2 since they have a 6 as their next highest hand, while Player 1 only has a 7.
Player 1 — 4, 6, 9, Q, K.
Player 2 — A, 2, 2, 7, 8.
It might seem that Player 2 has a lower hand, but they also have a pair (2, 2). Player 1 doesn’t have a pair or any other combination that would make a hand good in other poker variants, and is, therefore, the winner of this round.
Since you’re always trying to make the best (lowest) hand out of your five-card combination while having seven cards in total, you can never have three-of-a-king, four-of-a-kind, or a full house in Razz poker.
If you got 2, 3, Q, Q, Q, K, K, your lowest hand in that situation would be 2, 3, Q, Q, K. Using the remaining Queen or a King would only go against your hand.
Here is a handy table with the five most powerful hands in Razz poker.
|#1||A, 2, 3, 4, 5|
|#2||A, 2, 3, 4, 6|
|#3||A, 2, 3, 5, 6|
|#4||A, 2, 4, 5, 6|
|#5||A, 3, 4, 5, 6|
Razz Poker Strategy — Top 3 Tips for BeginnersRazz is a game that takes time to get used to. If you want to compete against the best, you will need to spend a lot of time practicing.
However, I believe that these three general tips will prove useful to any Razz poker newbie out there.
Recognize How Good Your Starting Hand IsThe best starting hand in Razz poker is, of course, A, 2, 3. However, you’re not always going to be that lucky to get it.
According to generally accepted strategies, any hand that has a 7 or lower is believed to be strong. An 8-high starting hand is still good, but you should be careful. Of course, it’s best if your starting hand is not paired at this point, so A, 2, 2, for example, is not considered a really good hand.
Pay Attention to Other Player’s Up-CardsIn Razz, all players can see each other’s face-up cards. Pay attention to which cards other players have in order to have some insight on how strong their hand might actually be.
You should also look at the revealed cards to know your chances of hitting a card you need to complete your low. Let’s say that you really need a 2, but a couple of more players have a 2 as well. That means that you are less likely to hit that card for the rest of the game.
Be Aggressive on Low-Hand ChecksIf your opponent has low up-cards but decides to check, that means that their face-down cards might not be as good. Hit those opponents with a raise and see how they react. Of course, they could always be bluffing, but that’s a risk worth taking.
London LowballRazz is popular all over the world, but players from Europe often like playing a sub-version of this game called London Lowball.
In London Lowball, straights and flushes do count against a player’s hand. The best possible hand in that situation would be A, 2, 3, 4, 6, and you also have to pay attention to suits. Other than that, the game is identical.
London Lowball is usually played at either fixed limit or pot limit, and rarely with no limit.
Final ThougtsThis was a full beginners guide on Razz poker, and I hope that you found it helpful.
If you need any more clarification or you want to ask me a question regarding the best Razz poker sites, feel free to use the comment section below.
I always like talking to my readers and I will make sure to give you a reply as soon as possible. Other than that — good luck!