Razz is a variant of Seven Card Stud, using the ace to five low ranking system for hands, instead of the high ranking system or both. Razz is part of the popular mix game called H.O.R.S.E and is played by many professional players all over the world. Only a few of the biggest poker sites offers Razz as a poker variant that can be played, but the sites offering it has good traffic in the games.
Razz works just like any other Seven Card stud game, with players getting a total of seven cards dealt where three is hidden and four is shown to the opponents. The cards are dealt over five different betting rounds and the player with the best low hand at showdown wins the hand. The game doesn’t have anything in common with other popular variants such as Texas Hold’em and Omaha High, but shares the same hand ranking system with Omaha Hi/Lo for the low part.
Razz is not an easy game to learn for new players as the hand ranking system is not similar to what players are used to, as well as the aspect of showing four of the cards to the opponents and only being dealt one to three cards at a time. Players familiar with low games will quickly be able to learn the game, but will still have to spend a lot of time to learn the strategy behind the game, since it is not like any other game besides other Seven Card Stud variants. When you play Razz online the software will take care of all the dealing and who has to act first, making you only have to worry about playing your hands.
When you begin to play Razz online, you will need to know the basic game play and hand ranking rules to be able to play optimal poker.
Let’s start with the hand ranking system, to know how you can win a hand over your opponents. The hand ranking system used in Razz is known as the “Ace to Five” or “California” system and is a low hand ranking system used in most low games. Straights and flushes do not count against a hand and aces are always the lowest card to get in a hand. All pairs, three of a kind or similar are terrible hands in Razz and will be beaten by all hands that don’t have any pair. We have taken some examples of hands and ranked them from the worst to the best, starting with the worst hands:
K, K, K, K, 7 ( Four of a kind is the worst hand possible in Razz)
Q, Q, Q,6, 6 (A full house is the second worst hand ranking you can get in Razz)
J, J, J, 5, 2 (Three of a kind is the third worst hand ranking you can get)
A, A, 8, 5, 2 (A Pair is the fourth worst hand you can have in Razz)
K, 7, 6, 5, 3 (All high cards in your hand is not good for your ranking, but will still beat all of the examples above)
9, 8, 7, 6, 5 (This straight beats any higher straights or any wheel with a higher card than a nine)
6, 4, 3, 2, A (This is the second best hand in Razz, known as a six-four and can only be beaten by the nuts)
5, 4, 3, 2, A (This is the best possible hand in Razz, having the lowest possible hand in a straight formation)
A low hand is always ranked from the highest card and downwards. That means that if you have a hand starting with a seven and five as the first cards, it will be known as a “seven-five low”. Now that you understand the concept of winning the Hi and Lo pots and know the hand rankings, let’s move on to the basic game play.
To start playing Razz the game needs to have a dealer assigned to deal the cards virtually. The dealer has no other duties or advantages like in other poker games. When the dealer has been assigned, all players have to post an ante, to provide some money in the pot. When all players have paid their ante, the dealer will deal all players three cards each with two cards facing down and one card face up. The player that has the lowest shown card of all has to act first and pay a so called bring-in. A bring-in is the first bet of the game and the player can choose to pay the minimum amount or raise his hand. Should there be a tie between players all having the lowest card, the suit rankings of the cards will decide who has to bring-in. The suit rankings works in alphabetical order, meaning that clubs are the lowest and hearts are the highest.
In the following rounds, players will be dealt a total of seven cards over five betting rounds, with four cards shown and three cards hidden. To decide who has to act first in the following rounds, the player with the best hand shown will have to act first. This means that there is no such thing as position in Razz as the position is determined by the cards and not by the dealer button. When the five betting rounds are over, the hand goes to showdown and the dealer determines who has the best low hand.
Razz can be played with 2-8 players at the table, but because of all players getting dealt seven cards, problems can occur due to lack of cards. Should there be eight players in the final round, the dealer will deal one community card that all players have to share as their seventh card and use that to create the best possible five card combination.
The dealer button has no specific importance when playing Razz, as the only thing it determines is who the dealer is in each round. The cards decides who has to pay the bring-in and act first in each round instead. To find out who starts with the dealer button in a new Razz game, the software will deal all players one card face up and the highest card will win the button.
Ante & Bring-In – Third Street (First Betting Round)
The first betting round is known as Third Street, because all players are dealt their three first cards there. The players gets two cards face down and one card face up after they have posted the ante and the player with the lowest card will be first to act and will have to post the bring-in or raise his hand. After the player has posted the bring-in the action moves around the table clockwise and leaves the rest of the players with the following options:
Fold: When a player don’t want to pay the bring-in or any raised amount to play his hand he will fold
Call: When a player have a good starting hand, he will call the bring-in or a raise amount to get another card
Raise: When a player has got three good starting cards, he can choose to raise the hand to get more money in the pot
When all players have made their final decision the hand continues to the next betting round.
Fourth Street (Second Betting Round)
In the second betting round the players are dealt their fourth card, which is dealt face up. Unlike in the first betting round, the player who is now first to act is the player with the best shown hand and not the one with the lowest.
The players will now have the options to check, bet, raise, call or fold depending on the action on the table. It is not possible to do a free check if a player has bet or raised before in the street. When all players have made their decision once again, we move on to the next betting round.
Fifth Street (Third Betting Round)
On the fifth street, the players will all receive their fifth card, which is dealt face up. Players will now have three cards face up and two cards hidden. Once again the player with the best hand shown will be first to act and after him the action goes clockwise around the table. The players can check, bet, raise,
Sixth Street (Fourth Betting Round)
On the sixth street the players will be dealt their last face up card, having a total of four cards shown. Just like in the previous streets, the player with the best shown hand will be forced to act first and the action then goes clockwise around the table. When all players have made their decision, the hand moves on to the final betting round.
Seventh Street (Fifth and Final Betting Round)
The seventh street is the fifth and final betting round, where players get dealt their seventh and final card. The last card is dealt face down, so all players will now have three hidden cards and four shown cards. The player with the best shown hand will start the action and the other players will get their turn in clockwise rotation. Players now have to make their final decision about how good their hand is compared to their opponents and choose their action thereafter. The players can check, bet, raise, call or fold depending on the action in the hand and when all players have made their decision, the hand will continue to showdown.
After the last betting round has ended, players who are still in the hand come to a showdown where the dealer will determine who has the best low hand and wins the hand. The best low hand is determined by using five of the seven cards to create the best hand and the winner wins the money in the pot. This will be repeated as long as there are players enough to play.