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A Beginner’s Guide to Razz Poker

An Introduction to Razz Poker 

Razz Poker is very popular with players, and is found at many online poker sites as well as in land casinos around the world. The game shares many similarities with 7 Card Stud Poker, but there are some crucial differences which make the game very interesting. If you are looking to get started playing Razz Poker, then you have come to the right place. In this guide, we will take you through everything you need to know, including the rules and different hand types.  

Razz Poker Basics 

Razz Poker is a game for two to eight players that is played using a standard deck of 52 cards. The reason the game stands out is that it is the player with the lowest hand who wins the pot and there are no qualifying rules for the lowest hand, so any hand is eligible.  

The aim of a hand is to use any five of the seven cards dealt to you to create the lowest ranking five-card poker hand. As is standard in stud poker, three cards are dealt face down, so only the player can see them, while the other four cards are dealt face up so that everyone can see them. 

While this sounds like Stud High Low, it is important to remember that there are no restrictions for a qualifying hand in Razz poker, therefore any hand qualifies. In Stud High Low, a low hand cannot contain any cards higher than an 8. Furthermore, it is important to remember that Aces count as low cards, while Straights and Flushes are not considered combinations, so are ignored.  

The game can be played in Fixed Limit, No Limit and Pot Limit versions. However, Fixed Limit is the most common form of Razz Poker, so it is what this guide shall focus on. Fixed Limit means that a player must place all bets or raises in a pre-determined increment, which is related to the stakes of the table.  

For example, in a €2/€4 game, in the first two betting rounds, known as the 3rd and 4th Streets, the bets must be raised increments at the low end of the stakes, i.e. €2, so the bet starts at €2, is raised to €4, re-raised to €6, and so on. In the final three betting rounds, the 5th, 6th, and 7th Streets, the bets are raised in increments of the high end stakes of €4, i.e. bet €4, raise to €8, re-raise to €12, and so on. In each betting round, a maximum of four raises are permitted.  

How to Play Razz Poker 

As with most forms of poker, Razz Poker makes use of a dealer button to mark the theoretical dealer before each round begins. This is important as it shows the order that the cards are dealt and the bets are placed. The player to the immediate left of the dealer button is dealt the first card and the button moves one player to the left with each hand, ensuring that all players will take it in turns to be the dealer.  

Razz Poker does not use blind bets, like Texas Hold’em and Omaha Poker; rather, it uses small Ante and Bring In Bets.  

At the start of each hand, players need to place the Ante bet in the pot. This is a small amount and it is placed to ensure that there are always chips in the pot. Normally, the Ante bet will be something between 10% and 25% of the low-end stakes, so in a €2/€4 game, the Ante bet will be between €0.20 and €0.50.  

Once all players have placed their Ante bets, each player receives three cards. The first two cards are dealt face down for only the player to see and they are called “hole cards”. The third card is dealt face up so that the entire table can see it, and it is called the “door card”. 

The door card is very important as the player with the lowest value door card must then place a “Bring In” bet to the pot. If two players have the same lowest door card, then it is decided by the player with the lowest suit. The suits are ranked lowest to highest in alphabetical order, so Clubs, Diamonds, Hearts, then Spades. The Bring In bet may also vary from game to game, but it is usually half of the low-end stake, so in a €2/€4 game it would be €1.  

Once the Bring In bet is placed the first round of betting can begin. It starts with the player to the left of the player who placed the bring in bet and proceeds clockwise around the table. Each player has the choice of four potential actions.  

  • Call: This is when a player matches a bet already placed in the betting round. In the first betting round, it will match the Bring In bet, unless another player has already raised. 
  • Raise: This is when a player matches the current bet by calling, and then increases it by raising. After the bet has been raised, all the other players must match it, fold, or raise again.  
  • Fold: This is when a player abandons the hand and any money they have bet. The cards should be kept face down so that the other players do not see them.  
  • All-In: If a player does not have enough chips to cover a bet, or just enough to cover, then they can go All-In by pushing their remaining chips into a separate stack near the main pot. If the player then loses, they are out of the game. If they win, then they may only collect chips from each player equal to the amount of the All-In bet.  

    When the betting returns to the player who placed the Bring In bet, the player may call it by adding enough chips to his Bring In bet to match the current bet. The player can also raise of fold.  

    When the first betting round is over, players are dealt their fourth card face up, which is known as the 4th Street. The second betting round then begins, and it is the same as the first with one exception. From the second betting round onwards, it is the player with the highest value open hand (face-up cards only) that starts the betting. At this point, there are only two face up cards, so the highest possible hand is a pair of Aces.  

    As no bet has yet been placed in this betting round, there are two additional betting options:  

    • Check: This is when a player does not place a bet, but remains in the hand. Check is only possible if no other player has yet bet in the current betting round. If a player bets after a check, then all players who have checked must at least call the bet to remain in the hand, or fold.  
    • Bet: The first person to place chips into the pot in a betting round placed a Bet. All players who wish to remain in the hand must then match this bet.  

      The betting continues until all players who wish to continue in the hand have placed an equal amount of chips in the pot. Players who do not want to must fold.  

      This pattern of dealing and betting continues with the next three cards, each of which is dealt individually and separated by a betting round: 

      • 5th Street: Each player receives a fifth face up card followed by a betting round that begins with the player who is showing the best hand from the three face up cards. From this point, all bets and raises must be equal to the high-end stakes, e.g. in a €2/€4 game, the increment is €4. 
      • 6th Street: Each player receives a sixth face up card and another betting round then begins.  
      • 7th Street: Each player receives their seventh and final card, but it is dealt face down. This means that the betting round starts with the player who began the previous round (as the 0face up cards have not changed). 

        In very rare cases, it is possible for the cards to run out before the 7th street has been dealt. If all eight players remain in the hand without folding, there will not be enough cards in the pack (eight players requiring seven cards each is 56 cards and there are only 52 in the deck).  If this happens, then the 7th street is dealt as a single, face up card in the centre of the table and all players use it as their seventh card.  

        At this point, it is time for the showdown. Very often, all players but one will have folded at some point during the hand, which means that there is no need for a showdown and the final remaining player will win the pot without being required to reveal his/her cards.  

        When two or more players remain in the hand after the final betting round, then a showdown takes place to decide the winner. All the remaining players will use any five of their seven cards to reveal their lowest ranking five-card poker hand. The player with the lowest hand then wins the pot. In the case of a tie, the pot will be split between the players.  

        Razz Poker Hand Rankings 

        When you think of poker hands you will think of terms such as Straight, Royal Flush, Full House, and so on. However, as the lowest ranking hand wins in Razz, these are not as relevant. It is important to remember, that Aces are the low and Straights and Flushes do not count as combinations.  

        To help you, when looking at low ranking hands it is best to read the cards from the highest to the lowest. The strongest low ranking hand is the one that has the lowest high card. If the high card is equal, then it comes down to the second lowest high card, and so on. For example, 7-5-4-2-A beats 7-5-4-3-A, as even though the first three high cards are equal, the fourth high card of the first hand is a 2, which is lower than the 3 in the second hand. One advantage of low hands is that suits are irrelevant. Therefore, the strongest possible low hand is 5, 4, 3, 2, A, the next would be 6, 4, 3, 2, A, the next, 6, 5, 3, 2, A, and so on.  

        However, in Razz Poker, it is the hand with the lowest high card that will win. While this can take a little while to get used to, once you have done so, the game becomes very straightforward.  


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