Intro to Razz Poker

Razz Poker is a challenging but potentially very rewarding version of 7 Card Stud poker. There aren’t nearly as many skilled Razz players as there are in other, more popular poker games. If you take the time to learn the rules and a little basic strategy, you’ll have a major step up on the competition.

In H.O.R.S.E. poker, Razz is represented by the letter “R.” If you would like to try your hand at mixed game formats, you will want to achieve at least a basic understanding of Razz. It’s an exciting game and if you develop a strong foundation, you’ll be able to take advantage of the many lesser-experienced Razz players out there.

Razz is played with the same basic structure as 7 Card Stud except for one major difference: the lowest hand wins. Straights and flushes don’t count against you so the best possible hand in Razz poker is A-2-3-4-5. The second best hand is A-2-3-4-6 and the third best is A-2-3-5-6.

How to Play Razz

1. Each player pays an ante at the beginning of the hand. The ante is approximately 10%-20% of the lower betting limit. In a $5/$10 Razz game, the ante would be about $0.50 to $1.00.

2. Three cards are dealt to each player. Two cards are dealt face down and one is dealt face up. This is called “Third Street.”

3. The player with the highest card showing must pay the “bring-in,” which is a mandatory bet equal to half the size of the lower betting limit. The betting continues clockwise around the table and the other players must either fold, pay the bring-in or raise it.

If two players have the same highest card showing, the suit of the cards is used to determine which card is the highest. Clubs are ranked the highest, followed by Diamonds, Hearts and Spades.

4. After the betting from the last round is finished, each player is dealt one card face up. This is called “Fourth Street.”

5. There is another round of betting but from now on, it begins with the player with the lowest hand showing so far. This time there is no forced bet. The players may check, bet or raise. If any player makes a bet, the other players at the table must match that amount or fold.

6. Each player is dealt another card face up. This is called “Fifth Street.” This is followed by another round of betting. From this round on, all bets will be made in increments of the upper betting limit.

7. Each player is dealt another card face up. This is called “Sixth Street.” This is followed by another round of betting just like the last round.

8. Each player receives one final card face down. This is called “Seventh Street.” This is followed by a final round of betting.

9. The players remaining in the hand after the last round now reveal their cards. The players may use any 5 of their 7 cards to create the best possible Razz hand. The player with the best Razz hand wins the pot.

If two hands have the same value, the pot is split among those players. Suits are not used to determine the winner.

Razz Hand Rankings

Hands are ranked beginning from the highest card and working down. A bicycle (A-2-3-4-5) is the best possible hand because a 5 is the highest card in the hand and it doesn’t contain any pairs (pairs count against you).

Even if a hand appears to have more low cards than another hand, the two hands are ranked according to their highest cards. For example:

A hand like 2-3-4-5-10 contains 4 very low cards but it would still lose to 4-6-7-8-9 because the “9 low” beats the “10 low.”

If the highest card in two different hands is the same rank, then the second-highest card is used to determine the winner. If the top two highest cards are the same in both hands, then the third-highest card is used, and so on down the line.

The top 5 hands in Razz are as follows:

  1. 1. A-2-3-4-5
  2. 2. A-2-3-4-6
  3. 3. A-2-3-5-6
  4. 4. A-2-4-5-6
  5. 5. A-3-4-5-6