How to Play Razz

By Maria McCoyGoogle
Razz is a form of Stud that is becoming more and more popular. It is a very easy game to learn and is a nice change of pace from other games. Unlike most poker games w here you are trying to make the best hand, Razz has you try to make the worse possible hand. The best hand in Razz A-2-3-4-5. This may look like a straight, but it is the lowest possible hand you can have which in Razz, is the best. The second best hand would be, A-2-3-4-6. You can see now that you have no sort of hand, but in Razz this is good.

Most forms of Razz feature a limit betting structure. This means you can only bet a specified amount on each betting round depending on the table stakes. It is possible to find other forms such as No limit, but this is rare.

The deal

All players will post an ante which is small relative to the table limits. Since there are no blinds, the antes replace them. All players are dealt 2 cards face down and 1 3rd one face up at the beginning. The deal goes clockwise from the left of the button. The button is only to let the dealer know where to begin the deal. It has no significant factor in Razz. The cards face up will determine who acts first in Razz.

Once all cards are dealt out, the player with the highest card face up is forced to put in what’s called the “Bring In”. This is a mandatory bet that is ½ the amount of the low bet. If you are playing at $1-$2 limit Razz table, the bring in would be $0.50. There is no other option if you have the high card, you must pay the bring in bet.
Once the high card bets, the action goes around the table clockwise after the bring in. Players can fold, call, or raise. At the beginning rounds of Razz, you may only bet the small bet which in a $1-$2 game would be $1. You can also only raise up to 3 times. Once it’s been raised 3 times, it is considered capped and the next round of betting will begin.

4th Card

After all the action is finished in the first round, all players still in the pot are dealt another card face up. Depending who has the best hand showing will dictate who is to act first. If you were to have an Ace and a 2 showing, you would go first. Since in Razz the best hands are low, Ace and a 2 are the lowest possible combination of cards one could have.

It’s important to note that pairs do no count. So if you had 2 Aces, this would not mean you had an ever lower hand than A2. Only one of the Aces counts. It’s not good to get pairs in Razz as you want to have 5 cards that you can use.

Once the low hand is determined, this player may either bet or check. All action continues clockwise from the low hand in this round. You may only bet the low bet in this round. Again, if you are playing a $1-$2 table, the low bet is $1.

5th Card

After all betting is complete all players in the hand are dealt a 5th card which is facing up again. The player to go first in this round is determined by who has the lowest hand showing once again.

Let’s use an example to further define how it is determined who goes first on each card. A different player could go first on each round in a Razz game, making it a little confusing.

Say the player who had A-2 as his first 2 cards showing was dealt a King. In the first round he went first since A-2 is the low hand. However, now a player who has A-3 was dealt a 9. They would now go first since the 9 is lower than the King.

Once the low hand is determined, this player now acts first. The same type of actions as in all rounds is applicable. Players can check, bet or raise if they choose. However, on all rounds from here on out, you must place a big bet. In earlier rounds you were forced to bet the low end of the bet which in our examples was $1. Since the table stakes are $2, this would be the big bet and all bets from here on out must be $2.

Action still goes clockwise form the player with lowest hand showing.

6th Card

Once all action is complete on the 5th card, another card is dealt to all players till in the hand. This card is once again dealt face up. As with all other rounds, the player with the lowest hand showing will go first. This could change from the last round if a different player now has a low hand showing.
Everything remains the same as earlier rounds. Players can once again bet, check or raise on the 6th card. Still sticking with the big bet, and all action going clockwise from the low hand.

Final Round

The final card is dealt face down to all players still in the pot. The player who had the low hand in the previous round is used to determine who goes first on the last card. All betting takes place and the person who last to make a bet has to show their hand first. Whoever has the lowest possible hand, wins the pot and a new hand is dealt.

The bets hand is determined by the highest of the 5 cards. You only use 5 of the 7 cards dealt to you to make the best hand. If your hand consists of 2-5-7-8-Jack and another player has 3-5-7-8-Ten, the player with Ten would win. Even though you have a 2 as your low card, the winner is determined by the lowest high card of the five.

Now lest talk about how pairs can really screw a Razz hand up. There will be times that you have a very low hand, but lady luck decides to spite you and gives you a bunch of pairs. If you have a hand such as A-2-3-3-4-4-2, your hand is void since you cannot make a low hand of 5 cards. You only have A-2-3-4 at this point as the other pairs do not count. It’s frustrating to have this happen, but it will occur.

If both players have the same high card, the winner is determined by who has the next lowest high card. Let’s say you have A-2-3-5-8 and your opponent shows, A-2-3-6-8. Both the high cards are an 8 and you all have an Ace low. We would go to the next highest card which in this hand would be the 5 in your hand and the 6 in your opponents.

Since 5 is lower than 6, you would win. This process would go even further down the line of high cards if they were the same. If you had A-4-5-7-Ten and your opponent had, A-4-6-7-Ten, the winner would be the hand with A-4-5.

By now you should have a good understanding of how Razz is played. It’s rather simple once you understand what hands win.

Razz is not a game of aggression and most of the time it’s easy to tell what another player may have based on their up cards. You can bluff at times, but it’s not as prevalent in Razz as it would be in games such as Hold Em and Omaha. 

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