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What is Razz Poker?
When's the last time you found yourself jumping for joy over a 5 high?
Beyond making the adjustment to thinking in terms of low hands, there really isn't too much for a seven-card stud player to know to play Razz:
- Aces are always low
- There is no "8 or better" rule qualifying low hands for play
- Straights and flushes are ignored in hand ranking
- Highest upcard starts the first betting round
- Lowest visible hand acts first on subsequent streets
- Lowest remaining hand wins the pot
Razz is typically played with a fixed-limit of two stakes, betting the lower limit stake through fourth street, and the higher limit stake thereafter. A Razz online gambling game comfortably supports between two and eight players.
Let's Play Razz Poker
To illustrate how a hand of Razz plays out, let's assume a fixed-limit game where the small limit is $4 and the large limit is $8. Raises are permitted, although they must be increments of the limit stake for a street. There also might be a cap on the number of raises per street, after which players must either call or fold.
Play begins with an ante from all players. The ante varies, but is often 10% of the high fixed-limit stake.
The dealer deals each player two cards face down and one "door" card up. The highest door card starts or "brings in" the betting with the lower limit stake. Other players must at least call to stay in.
Players who don't fold on third street are dealt another upcard, and bet the fourth street at the lower limit. From this street on, betting proceeds clockwise from the lowest visible hand, whose player can check, bet, or fold. Players after the first bet must call, raise, or fold, including any players who initially checked.
Players still in the game are dealt another upcard. The fifth street requires players to bet the higher limit.
Sixth street begins with the fourth upcard being dealt. Like fifth street, this street demands the higher limit bet and raise increments.
Players who still haven't folded are dealt their seventh card face down, reaching the river. Players bet the river round at the higher limit.
Finally, players who've not folded reach the showdown. The player who bet last shows their hand first. Clockwise from there, players either show a lower hand, or concede by surrendering their cards, usually face down to avoid revealing betting strategy. The lowest five-card hand wins the pot.
Note that if only one player remains after any street, they win the pot, and the table moves on to a new hand without a showdown.
Razz poker is essentially seven-card stud in which the lowest hand wins. Lowest hands also start the betting on most streets. But the dealing and betting structure is the same.
A significant quirk is that there are no straights or flushes in Razz.
Razz is usually played with fixed-limit betting. But spread-limit, pot-limit, and no-limit games can be found as well.
Card suits come into play in "reverse Bridge order" when hands tie. In other words, clubs are lower than diamonds, which are lower than hearts, which are lower than spades. This settles ties both when determining who bets first on a street, and who wins the pot.
Although rare in online gambling, the deck can run too low for everyone to receive a seventh street card in an eight player game. In that case, a single community card is dealt face up.
At some online gambling sites you might encounter other betting structures like spread-limit, pot-limit, and no-limit. Pot-limit and no-limit games aren't as prevalent because there are five betting rounds in Razz.
There are many spread-limit variations, making them difficult to categorize. Basically, a player can bet anywhere within a range of permissible stakes instead of just one stake. The upper limit of the range often increases on subsequent streets.
Razz poker is believed to have emerged in the United States not longer after seven-card stud at the turn of the 20th century. But it wasn't played much until after World War One. From then on, it spread throughout country quickly.
It remained popular until the 1950s and 1960s, when it all but disappeared until the inception of the World Series of Poker in 1970. However, except for 1974, Razz has been part of the annual tournament ever since.
Seeing Things Upside Down
Razz's most radical departures from seven-card stud are that the low hand wins, and the absence of straights and flushes. It can be a little disorienting at first.
When it comes to strategy, it's important to remember that the probabilities related to winding up with a good low hand from street to street are different than when playing for highest hand.
The best Razz finishing hand is ace-two-three-four-five, also known as "the wheel" or "the bicycle". The best starting Razz hand is ace-two-three, which is dealt only 0.29% of the time. Even so, getting from there to the wheel happens 7.15% of the time.
You obviously have to take into account all visible cards at all times. But beyond that, knowing the probabilities of getting from, say, ace-two-king to a strong hand is paramount to betting properly.
But variety is the spice of life, and the inverted mentality required to thrive in Razz can make things really interesting for your gaming palate. Be sure to experience why Razz remains a mainstay of World Series of Poker tournaments for some of the world's top poker players.
Frequently Asked Questions
What is Razz Poker?
Razz is like a reverse version of 7 card stud poker where players aim to complete a 5 card hand with the lowest possible value, rather than the highest.
The maximum number of possible players in a razz game is 8.
Where can I play it online?
Almost all of the major online poker sites offer games of razz for players with every kind of budget, from high rollers to newbies who only want to spend a couple of dollars.
If you're looking for the best places to play Internet razz, have a look at our range of most recommended razz poker sites on this page.
How does it compare to other variations?
In poker games like the popular Texas Hold'em variant, players need to build up the highest value hand in order to beat the competition. It's the opposite in razz. That's because razz is what's known as a 'lowball' poker game and the aim is actually to build the lowest value hand.
It's also a limit game so the most you can bet is set at a particular level.
How long do the games last?
Razz poker games tend to go on for a couple of hours but you can decide to play as many or as few hands as you like
You can expect a tournament in this variant to be a little shorter than your average Texas Hold'em one. That's because usually fewer players sign up for a razz tournament, so there's less competition and the tournament ends sooner.
How much can be won?
Due to the fact that razz is played with a limited betting structure, the amount of cash in the pot doesn't get as high as it does in no limit games.
Is it recommended for beginner players?
Razz can be a great game for fledgling poker players to try out because it's available to play at a range of different stakes.
If you're a beginner you should definitely read through the razz basics on this page before you play. These tips will help you to get your head around the way the game works and the different strategies you can employ.
Is there a tournament option?
Yes. All of the razz poker sites that we've picked as the best ones offer multi table razz tournaments several times a day.