Razz is a poker game commonly found at poker websites and is very similar to betting on 7 Card Stud. The only differences between Stud and Razz are in the way that the first player to start each betting round is chosen and how hands are evaluated at the showdown. The latter difference comes as a result of Razz being a Lo game, in which the player with the lowest (worst) poker hand wins the pot. These changes can make for some very interesting strategic decisions, especially for those players moving from 7 Card Stud to Razz for the first time.
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How to Bet on Razz Poker Games
As with 7 Card Stud, every player in Razz poker players receive two hole cards and one door card to start. Before this, however, they must all pay an ante. The ante is dead money that is contributed to the pot before each hand. The maximum number of players is eight, and the minimum is two. Any player can be the dealer, and the dealer button does not switch hands during the game.
From here, play begins according to these rules:
- Razz begins with the bring. In Razz, the bring is given to the player that has the highest value door card. Aces are low in Razz, so the highest possible card is a King. If two players both have the same high card, the suit will determine the tie breaker. Suits ranked from best to worst are spades, hearts, diamonds and clubs.
- The player who must bring has the option of betting the ante amount or small bet amount, just as in Stud.
- The action starts with the bring, and the first betting round begins.
- The dealer deals a new door card face-up to each player, which is followed by another betting round. In Razz, the player with the lowest hand made up of door cards must begin each betting round. This is the opposite of how the round starter is chosen in Stud.
- The game continues to alternate between the dealer giving players face-up cards and betting rounds until each player is dealt their 7th and final card. This card is placed facedown on the table.
- A final betting round begins, starting with the same player that began the last betting round.
The showdown follows the final round of betting. All players that haven’t folded create the lowest five-card poker hand possible. The player with the lowest hand wins the pot, and a new hand of Razz begins with the same dealer as the previous hands.
During the showdown, hands are evaluated based on their numerical values, and suits do not matter. The lowest possible hand in Razz is Ace – 2 – 3 – 4 – 5, also referred to as the wheel. Unlike in a Hi Lo card game, the hands in Razz do not have to meet any special criteria to qualify. In this way, a player could win a hand of Razz while holding a pair or even better, so long as all of the other players have hands that would rank higher in a traditional game of poker.
As in Stud Hi Lo or Omaha Hi Lo, hands are judged from the highest value card down. For example, one player has 8 – 7 – 4 – 3 – 2 and another player has 8 – 7 – 5 – 4 – Ace. The player with 8 – 7 – 4 – 3 – 2 wins the hand because, when read from left to right, the first hand with a lower value card is 8 – 7 – 4 – 3 – 2. It makes no difference that the second hand has an Ace, which is the lowest individual card possible.
If two players have identical low hands, they split the pot. As in Stud, you may only choose five of your cards to make into a hand. Two of the seven cards must be left on the table.
Razz poker players have access to the same betting decisions as 7 Card Stud players. Your options in Razz include the following:
- Fold – Throw away your cards and sit out until the next hand begins.
- Raise – Match the previous bettor’s wager and add an additional wager of your own.
- Bet – The first raise of each betting round.
- Call – Match the previous bettor’s wager and not raise any amount of your own.
- Check – The same as call, except it can only be done when there hasn’t been a previous bet. In this way, you’re not actually “calling” any sort of bet.
Razz poker games are almost always played with Fixed Limit betting rules. Although it’s technically possible to play Pot Limit or No Limit Razz, you’ll hardly ever see those variations, especially at online poker betting sites.
In Fixed Limit Razz, each player can only wager set amounts that are determined before the game. For example, if you’re playing a $10 / $20 game, the small bet is $10 and the big bet is $20. In the first two rounds of a hand, you can only wager increments of the small bet. In the final three rounds, wagers can only be placed in increments of the big bet. Most online Razz poker betting sites limit the amount of allowable raises to 3 or 4 per round.
Strategy to Help You Win
Basic Razz betting strategy dictates that players should place an emphasis on watching the door cards that other players have. If a player has a hand such as 3 – 4 – 5 – 6, they’ll only need a face-down Ace or Two make an extremely strong low hand, and even a 7 will give them a strong chance of winning.
You should never pursue a hand in Razz that has a card above 8. Don’t count on luck to deliver you a card that will replace a very high card such as King, even if your other two hole cards are very low.