If you’re new to poker, understanding the different variants is an essential step en route to gaining maximum enjoyment and finding a winning strategy. Razz poker is one that many players overlook, but could be the best solution.
Here’s all you need to know about razz poker rules, whether you’re a brand new player or simply looking for a new game type to play.
What is Razz Poker?
Razz poker, sometimes referred to as seven-card razz, is a lowball stud variant that forms the ‘R’ of H.O.R.S.E. While the game, which was introduced in the early 20th century, lost popularity in the 1990s and 2000s, it has recently enjoyed a revival with younger generations.
Seven-card razz is commonly played by small groups in real-life and can support 2-8 players. It can also be found on many of the biggest online poker websites. Under most circumstances, it is a low stake game with predetermined fixed limits for each hand.
Razz poker is arguably one of the lesser-known lowball variants for new players, it has featured in the World Series of Poker for over 50 years.
How to Play Razz Poker?
The order of play for razz poker is similar to seven-card stud. It begins with each player placing their initial bet to be included in the hand. They are then dealt three cards (two face-down cards followed by one face-up). This is known as ‘third street’ e person with the lowest exposed card will then act first.
A sper the razz poker rules, actions at each stage of the hand are; check, fold, call, and raise.
Following this, there will be three more rounds, known as ‘fourth’, ‘fifth’, and ‘sixth’ street in which each player is dealt another face-up card. For each ‘street’, the player with the lowest card starts the action until every player has completed and the next round of cards can be dealt.
Finally, a final card known as ‘seventh street’ or the ‘river’ will be dealt face-down. Now, each player will have a total of seven cards and the aim is to build the best hand with five of those cards. Razz uses the California system, meaning the best possible hand is a run of Ace to 5.
The rest of the razz poker hand rankings focus on the lowest hand while holding a pair is worse than a run of five different cards. The suits do not matter. Some examples in ranking from best to worst include;
It may take a little time to get used to the hand rankings for jazz poker, which is why most new players try demo or free play games first – even if the stakes are low.
Note: The only instance where the suits do matter is when two or more players have a King on the third street. In this case, the rankings are Spade, Heart, Diamond, Club.
Best Razz Poker Strategy Tips
Once you’ve placed the initial bet to enter the hand, the moves you take at the third street are vital. After all, there is nothing worse than calling the bets at 4-7th streets when you have a high (bad) hand. Knowing when to fold at the third street is probably the most important strategy for any new player.
Given that pairs are bad, any player who has a pair within their first three cards should usually fold. Of course, it is still possible to win with a pair but the best hand from seven cards essentially becomes the best hand from six. Many players also fold if they have a high card that’s an 8 or above – especially when there is a full table of 8 players.
When starting, you’ll probably focus on your hand. If you get to the sixth street with a run that starts no higher than a seven, there’s probably a good chance that you have an OK chance of winning the hand. As you get more experienced, though, you’ll start to judge other players’ facing cards to weigh them up against yours.
For example, if you can see that another player has ?-?-K-J-9-4, you’ll know that the best possible hand is a J-9-4-2-A. If your hand already beats that before the river, you can bet with confidence in a bid to secure the biggest pot.
If you understand seven-card stud, the transition to razz poker rules should be fairly simple as the hand rankings are the main difference. Either way, seven-card razz is a great standalone game or feature of H.O.R.S.E. Happy playing.