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How to Play Razz Poker?

Poker comes in so many variants, with Texas Hold ‘em leading the way and Omaha poker in second place. But there are many other poker variants, and here we discuss one of the oldest poker variants, Razz poker, which is a variant of 7-Card Stud. But the trick with Razz poker is that the lowest hand wins, which changes some things in the strategy and rules.

Razz poker is a lowball poker variant, and the hand rankings differ from those of the high-hand poker variants. Even though Razz poker is not as mainstream as other variants, it is the R in H.O.R.S.E. poker tournaments, which means you should know the Razz poker rules and how to play this game.

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Main Razz Poker Rules

The general poker rules apply to Razz poker as well, but there are several main differences that you must know so you can more quickly master the game. Because we can consider Razz poker as 7-Card Stud Low, it means the low hand wins, and you need to try and make the lowest possible hand using five of the seven cards you are dealt. Here are the main Razz poker rules:

  • The Ace is the lowest card in Razz poker
  • The Razz poker game is limited to 8 players
  • Straight and flush hands don’t count in Razz poker
  • Pairs are a downside in Razz poker
  • Generally, Razz poker is played as a fixed-limit betting game, with the first two betting rounds with a small bet and the subsequent rounds with a big bet
  • The small bet is usually one half or one third of the big bet
  • The player who has the highest “door” card opens the betting round; the King is the highest possible door card
  • If two players have the same high card, the suits break the tie
  • The suits in Razz poker are ordered like this: clubs is the lowest, diamonds is the second lowest, hearts is second best, and spades is the best

Razz Poker Gameplay

Razz poker has a specific rule that separates it from other Stud poker variants, and that is the rule on the player who opens the betting. Here we outline the Razz poker gameplay rules:

  • Ante bets – the players start by placing ante bets, and they get two face-down cards, known as hole cards, and one visible card, known as the door card. The dealer deals the cards one at a time, first dealing face-down cards and then the face-up card
  • Third Street – first round of betting – the player with the highest door card starts the betting with the Bring-in, which usually needs to be larger than the ante. The betting round continues with the player to the left of the Bring-in, who can call, raise, or fold, and continues in a clockwise direction
  • Fourth Street – second round of betting – after the first round of betting ends, the players get another face-up card, and the player with the lowest value hand starts the betting round; the bet is the small bet size, and the betting continues clockwise, with the player on the left continuing the betting
  • Fifth Street – third round of betting – after the second round of betting, each player gets another face-up card, and the player with the lowest exposed hand starts the betting and the bet is the bigger bet amount, and the betting continues clockwise
  • Sixth Street – fourth round of betting – again, each player gets another face-up card, and the player with the lowest exposed hand starts the betting, and again, the bet is the bigger amount, with the betting continuing with the player on the left
  • Seventh Street – fifth round of betting – the River – in this round, each player gets one face-down card, and they now have three face-down and four face-up cards. The player with the lowest visible hand starts the final betting round, and they can either check or place a big size bet
  • Showdown – after the betting ends, the remaining players go to a showdown where they compare hands. The best low hand wins and the flush and straight poker hands don’t count

Razz Poker Hands Ranking

The best hand in Razz poker is 5-4-3-2-A, which is called the wheel, and it is also the best winning low hand in the Omaha Hi-Lo poker variant. There are no qualifiers in Razz poker, and even if you have two pairs or something else, but it is the lowest hand on the table, it will still be the winning hand.

The winning hands in Razz poker are ranked from the highest card down to the lowest; you need to watch for the high card in the showdown. For example, the hand 7-6-4-3-A will lose from the hand 6-5-3-2-A because 7 is higher than 6. Any complete five-card hand, no matter how weak, will beat a card hand with four different cards.

If two players have the same winning hand, they will split the pot, and suits are not used in hand evaluation.

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Best Starting Hands in Razz Poker

The hole cards you have in Razz poker are essential, as are in all poker variants. Knowing which has potential is important, as you can assign poker ranges to your opponents and hone your poker strategy. Here we list the best starting hands in Razz poker; please note that you can use only five of the seven cards you have in your hand, so the starting hands play a crucial role:

Best Razz poker starting hands
1 A, 2, 3
2 A, 2, 4
3 A, 3, 4
4 2, 3, 4
5 A, 2, 5
6 A, 3, 5
7 A, 4, 5
8 2, 3, 5
9 2, 4, 5
10 A, 2, 6

Razz Poker Strategy & Tips

Razz poker needs practice to master, as you are aiming for the “worst hand in poker,” which is the winning hand in Razz poker. However, this is not enough, so you need to master other poker strategies, so we share some poker tips we believe will help you become a better Razz poker player:

Learn the rules & hands

Always tend to learn the detailed rules of the game you play, and the same goes for Razz poker. For example, the Ace is the lowest-ranking card in Razz poker, and if two players have the same winning hand, they’ll share the pot.

Start with a good hand

Learn which are good starting hands in Razz poker, and tend to only play when you have an excellent starting hand. If you play with a good starting hand, you improve your winning chances, as some hands have better winning potential than others.

Observe the face-up cards

Observe the face-up cards your opponents hold, as these are vital pieces of the informational puzzle. Based on your hole cards and your opponent’s face-up card actions, you can discern their plan and strategy and even guess if they are bluffing.

Look at your opponents’ tells

Observe your opponents and try to notice their poker tells. These can be physical or verbal traits that they make, which are related to their actions; you can learn a lot by observing the other players, like if they tend to call or check often, which is an indication of their poker hand.

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What is the best hand in Razz poker?

The best hand in Razz poker is called the wheel, and it is 5-4-3-2-A. This is actually the “worst” hand in poker, which wins the pot in Razz.

What hands count against you in Razz poker?

Flushes and straights don’t count in Razz poker, so it does not matter if the cards are in the same suit. Pairs are also undesirable, as if you have two pairs, you are limiting your winning chances.

How do the Aces count in Razz poker?

The Aces in Razz poker count as 1, or the lowest card. The highest card in Razz poker is the King, then the Queen, Jack, and so on.

What happens if you run out of cards in Razz poker?

Razz poker is limited to 8 players. In the case of all eight players remaining until the last round, they are not dealt one card each, but the last card is placed face-up on the table, and all the players use it as a community card.

Do pairs count in Razz poker?

Pairs count against you in Razz poker, so any hand that has a pair should be avoided. You need to make the lowest possible hand using five of the seven cards you are dealt, even if you have one pair, but the other five cards make a strong winning hand, and you have the potential to win.

Which player starts first in Razz poker?

The player with the highest “door” card starts betting on Razz poker. The door card is the first face-up card that the players get after they place the antes, and this is the only place where the suits are used in Razz poker, ranked as ♠-♥-♦-♣, from best to worst.

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