How to Play Razz Poker

Razz is a low poker game that is mostly based on Seven Card Stud. To a bystander, a hand of Razz actually looks exactly the same as a hand of Seven Stud; the only difference comes at the showdown, as the game uses a unique set of hand rankings to determine the winning hand. This article will teach you the full rules of Razz poker, and will also explain the unique hand rankings so you'll know who wins at the end of the hand.

Objective of Razz

In Razz Poker, players try to win money by either betting enough so all the other players fold, or by showing down the best hand at the end of the game - either way you receive the entire amount of money that was in the middle, called "the pot." To increase your winnings at Razz, you should always know when to fold (when you have a poor hand), and know when to bet more (when you have a winner).

Razz Poker Structure

Razz is almost always played at a table with eight total players, but sometimes games run with six or less players. The reason Razz can't have nine players at a table is because each player potentially receives seven cards, so if there were nine players at the table the deck would often run out of cards. With eight players it's not much of a worry.

Instead of using a blinds system, Razz has antes and a bring-in bet to force action right away. Tables are identified by their betting limits, so you'd often refer to a table as, for example, $1/$2 Razz. This table would have a small bet of $1 and a big bet of $2. Read on to learn the step by step rules of the game.

Razz Poker Rules

Ok, now let's get into the full, step by step, official rules of Razz poker.

Shuffle Up and Deal

The game starts when each player posts their ante. The ante is a small forced bet that is in place to create action right away. Antes are typically 1/5th to 1/10th the size of a small bet. So, at a $1/$2 Razz table the ante would likely be between $0.05 and $0.10. Once all antes have been posted, the dealer deals out three cards to each player. Each player receives one card at a time, in a clockwise motion, starting with the player to his/her left. Each player receives their first two cards face down, and the third card face up.

The Bring In

Once all cards have been dealt, action starts with the player who is showing the highest card. This player can either make the bring in, or complete the bet to one small bet. The bring in is typically 1/3 to 1/2 of a small bet, so at a $1/$2 Razz table the bring in might be $0.40.

Most times players with the highest face-up card will just make the bring-in and not complete the bet because in Razz you want low cards, so you don't want to bet much with the high card. If two players have the same highest up card, the bring-in is decided by suit rankings (diamonds are highest, then clubs, then hearts, then spades). Also, remember that Aces are low, so a King is the worst card in the game.

Here's an example of how the bring in would work at an online poker game:

Razz Poker Bring In

Since the player with the King has the highest up-card at the table, he/she had to either make the bring in or complete the bet. In the case above, the player chose to just make the bring in.

Third Street

After the first player chooses to either make the bring-in or complete the bet, action continues clockwise around the table. Players have the option to either call the bring-in, fold, or complete the bet. If the bet has been completed subsequent players can raise to two small bets. Third street betting ends when each player has either folded or called the highest bet.

Fourth Street

Now the dealer deals each player another face up card. The player with the lowest face up card receives his/her new card first, and then the dealer deals to the rest of the players clockwise around the table.

Once everyone has their new card another betting round begins. This round starts with the player who is showing the lowest hand. He/she can either check or bet, and depending on what he/she does the other players have different options. If the initial player checks, other players can also check or bet one small bet. If someone makes a bet, subsequent players can either fold, call the bet, or raise to two small bets.

Once everyone has either folded or matched the highest bet, the hand moves on to fifth street.

Up until Fifth Street small bets have been used for each betting round. However, for Fifth Street and beyond players now must use large bets instead. Each betting round has a cap of four bets, so once three raises have been made, players can only call or fold, not raise.

Fifth Street

Fifth street is exactly the same as fourth street, except that players now must make big bets instead of small bets. Each player receives another up card (starting with the player showing the lowest hand and moving clockwise around the table), and the betting begins with the player who has the lowest hand showing.

Sixth Street

Sixth street is exactly the same as fifth street. Each player receives their new card, they have a round of betting, and play moves to seventh street.

Seventh Street

Each player now receives their final card, which is dealt out face down. Action begins with the player who has the lowest hand showing, and continues clockwise around the table until each player has either folded or matched the highest bet. If at the end of the hand there is more than one player remaining, you have a showdown.

The Showdown

If players reach a showdown, everyone flips their hand over to determine who wins the hand. Whoever made the last bet shows their hand first, and then subsequent players clockwise around the table can either show or muck their hands. Here are the hand rankings in Razz - they're much different than other poker games:

NOTE: Straights and flushes are irrelevant in Razz.

Hand Rank: Hand: Example Hand:
#1 5-Low 5-4-3-2-A
#2 6-Low 6-4-3-2-A
#3 7-Low 7-5-4-3-2
#4 8-Low 8-7-5-4-3
#5 9-Low 9-5-4-3-2
#6 Ten-Low T-9-7-4-2
#7 Jack-Low J-8-7-4-2
#8 Queen-Low Q-8-6-5-3
#9 King-Low K-J-8-3-2

If two players happen to have the same hand, like an Eight-Low, then you look at the other cards in their hand to determine the winner. Start by looking at the second highest card in each player's hand - whoever's card is lowest is the winner. If those two cards are the same, you look at the third highest card, then fourth highest, then fifth highest if necessary. Here's what it would look like if multiple players had an Eight-low:

Hand Rank: Hand: Example Hand:
#1 8-Low 8-4-3-2-A
#2 8-Low 8-5-3-2-A
#3 8-Low 8-5-4-3-2
#4 8-Low 8-7-5-4-3

As you can see in the example above, the first hand would win because it's second highest card, 4, is the lowest of all the hands.

Where to Play Razz?

Razz poker can be found at quite a few of the major online poker sites, but make sure to check out Full Tilt Poker, as they are at the top of our list of the best Razz poker sites:

Razz Poker Strategy

Razz is the one of the easiest poker games to learn. It is pretty simple - you play the small cards. The lowest hand is the best hand. If you are dealt big cards, don't waste your money - fold. It is important to wait until you have a good starting hand. On Third Street, the lower your cards are, the better your hand.

Razz Starting Hands Tip

Any three cards between an Ace and a five give you a good starting hand. A-2-3 is the best starting hand one could have, but a hand of two small cards and a larger card is also not a bad hand to start with.

The most import street in Razz is Fourth Street. If one player gets a good card and another player gets a bad card, it is easy to see. This scenario would mean the player with the good card now has the best hand and would be most likely to win. The up cards in this game make it easy to figure out if you are ahead or not.

Variations of Razz

  • Deuce to Seven is a version of Razz that is played with the goal of getting seven low cards, instead of five.
  • Razz is the "R." in H.O.R.S.E.

Other Poker Games: