Razz is a type of stud poker, where the aim is to make the lowest possible hand. In Razz straights and flushes don’t count and Ace’s are always low, so the best possible hand that you can get is 5-4-3-2-A.
Seven cards are dealt to you in Razz but only 5 are used to make your hand.
The 2004 World Series of Poker Razz event was won by T.J Cloutier, and the game gained massive popularity after that, even being included in multiple online poker rooms.
The best three cards you can be dealt to start a hand are A-2-3, and a basic strategy to live by is to avoid playing your hand if you’re dealt a pair right off the bat.
How To Play Razz
Razz is typically played with a maximum of 8 players but can also be played ‘heads up’ with as few as two people. The betting is normally set at limit betting.
Each player pays an ante to start the hand and is dealt 2 cards face down and one card face up (just like in 7 Card Stud); the player with the highest card face up begins the betting. If two players have the same high card then it is determined by suit, with spades being the highest possible suit, followed by hearts, diamonds, and then clubs.
Play will then continue clockwise, and after that, each player still in the hand will be dealt another card face up with betting starting with the lowest hand showing. The 7th and final card dealt is face down, and betting continues with whoever bet first on the 6th card.
Basic Razz Poker Strategy
It’s important in Razz to remember to always pay attention to both your starting hand and the other players’ face up cards. A pair is always a bad start to a hand, and if you have a face card (King, Queen, Jack) it’s typically not a great idea to stay in a hand either unless you have position on the opening better and the cards shown at the table are all high.
You also need to be sure to react to the other player’s face up cards. For example, if you’re 5 cards into a hand and another player has a pair showing or multiple high cards, it’s not a bad idea to bet at them and try to take down the pot.
If you have 2-3-4 in your hand, and you see that other players at the table have cards showing that are 3, 4, 4, 2, then you’re hand is very strong because the possibility of your hand pairing is much, much lower now. Bluffing is huge in Razz and needs to be a part of your game. You should always be playing other players hands as well as your own – the main difference between games like hold’em and Omaha is that in Razz you know what players have in their hand, and can play what’s showing.
Examples of Strong Razz Poker Starting Hands
2 of spades, 3 of clubs, 5 of diamonds in any position.
Any 3 card of the best possible 5 is, of course, a great way to start your hand.
8 of diamonds, 6 of clubs, 3 of diamonds with the 3 of diamonds showing near the opening bettor with folds around to you.
If you have a low card showing like that, it’s not a bad idea to try to steal the antes if the players after you are showing higher cards than yours.
Important Things to Remember
- Always remember that a pair is never a good way to start a hand, but even more than that, if a pair is showing on your board it makes bluffing significantly more difficult.
- If you’re looking for low cards to complete your hand, be sure to check the other player’s cards and remember what has been folded to establish the chances of you hitting one of the low cards that you need.
- If you’re dealt a strong starting hand, make the other players pay to see your next card. Also check to make sure that you aren’t actually betting into a lower hand as the cards come out.
- Be patient and know when to fold. You don’t have to chase cards, that will just put you in a bad spot; and if you’re dealt below average cards just lay it down and save your chips for another day.
Hand vs. Hand Razz Situations
What this will show is two different hands and what is a recommended course of action in certain situations. The face down cards on the 2nd hand will be unknown.
Hand 1 (players hand): Ace, 4, 7, 9, 4
Hand 2: X, X, 5, 4, 6
Player 2 has been betting out the entire way, with player 1 calling.
What to do: The smart play is to fold and not chase card’s 6 and 7. Player 2’s hand showing is better than what you have and you’re more than likely to be behind.
Hand 1 (players hand): 10, 8, 3, 6, 4
Hand 2: X, X, 7, 5, 9
Player 1 has been betting out with player 2 calling down.
What to do: Continue to bet, remember that the other player can’t see the 10 and 8 that you’re holding. It seems as though player 2 is chasing cards, so make them pay to see, especially if player 2 is just calling.
Hand 1 (players hand): Ace, 2, 4, 6, Jack, 3
Hand 2: X, X, Ace, 7, 4, 3
Player 2 is betting out with player 1 calling.
What to do: Raise. You got a great card with the Jack making your hand look weaker than it is. He’s showing a 7 which means that unless his two cards that you can’t see are a 2 and 5, or 2 and 6, then you’re ahead and in a great situation to take down a huge pot.
Razz can be one of the most fun games out there, and also a lucrative one if you really know the game. If you remember the few simple rules to live by while playing Razz and practice a bit you could be an excellent Razz player, and there aren’t a lot of people out there who can say that.