28 May

How to Play Razz Poker (7 Card Stud Low)

How to Play Razz Poker 7 Card Stud Low

Razz poker has been around for more than a hundred years now, originating sometime near the turn of the 20th century; approximately four decades after the introduction of its derivative, 7 Card Stud. These two games combined overtook the vast majority of poker rooms until Texas Hold’em came along. Today, Razz is a staple of the WSOP, the “R” in the mixed game, H.O.R.S.E., and a favorite among elite poker players worldwide.

How to Play 7 Card Stud Low – Razz Poker

Razz is not a hard game to learn, but if you’re an avid player of traditional high-hand games, it can take some getting used to. Our simple, step-by-step exercise in Razz Poker will teach you all you need to know, plus a few pro-style strategy tips to help you become a better Razz player.
  1. Understand the Rules: Razz poker is an A-5 lowball game, meaning the lowest hand wins, and A-2-3-4-5 is best. As a stud variant, there is no draw phase. Each player will have 7 cards to work with…
  2. Betting Structure: In a casino or online poker room, ante and bring-in bets are enforced, with fixed limit being the standard betting structure. All bet sizes are determined by the FL stakes…
  3. Order of Events: In this section, we’ll give you a basic run down of events in a Razz poker hand, from the placement of ante bets and initial deal, to the pot-awarding showdown…
  4. Razz Strategy Tips: Razz is not your typical poker game. Most players are advanced level elites, if not career professionals. They employ advanced strategies that you must understand to compete…
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1. How to Play Razz Poker

Razz is played with a standard deck of 52 cards. By nature, the game should accommodate up to 7 players. However, when the pros get together, a live table might open seats for 8, sometimes even 9, based on the simple fact that good poker players fold most of their hands. With half the field folding prior to 4th street, there will be more than enough cards to complete the hand.

Players start with three cards each, then receive one more card at a time until everyone left in the hand has 7 cards. If at any time, all but one player has folded, the remaining player immediately wins the pot. Otherwise, all active players with 7 cards will take part in the showdown, where the best hand wins.

The object of the game is to develop the lowest ranking hand. Here are the basic rules of lowball hand development.

  • Lowest hand wins
  • Aces are always low
  • Straights and Flushes are irrelevant
  • Pairs are high (No pair beats pair, low pair beats high pair, one pair beats two pair, etc.)

By these standards, the best possible hand is A-2-3-4-5, known as “The Wheel”. You could also refer to this as a “5 High”. Likewise, a hand of A-2-3-5-6 would be called a “6 High”, and 2-3-5-7-8 an “8 High”. The highest card identifies the strength of the hand.

Unlike some lowball poker games, there is no minimum qualifying hand requirement to win. The lowest hand, no matter how high it is, will take the pot at the showdown. Even if it’s a pair or trips, so long as it is the lowest competing hand, it qualifies to win.

2. Razz Betting Structure – FL w/ Ante & Bring-In

In a casino or online poker room, ante and bring-in bets are enforced, with fixed limit (FL) being the standard betting structure. All bet sizes are determined by the FL stakes, so that’s where we’ll start.

Fixed Limit (FL): A fixed limit betting structure defines the stakes of the game and the exact amount players will bet or raise throughout the hand. It also defines the size of the ante and bring-in.

In a $2/$4 FL game, the ante is $0.50 and the bring-in is $1. Up until 5th street (the fifth card dealt), all bets and raises must equal the low-end stakes of $2. Following 5th street, all rounds of betting require bets/raises to equal the high-end stakes of $4.

Ante: The ante is a small forced bet placed by everyone at the table before a hand begins. The size of the ante is usually one-fourth the low-end stakes (e.g. $0.50 in a $2/$4 FL game).

Bring-In: The bring-in is a forced bet placed by the player with the highest ranking door card after the initial 3-card deal (two down, one up, with the up-card being the door card). In $2/$4 FL, this player can bet the minimum $1 bring-in, or increase it to a full bet of $2.

Note that, in a standard 7 Stud High game, it is the best hand showing (highest ranking card) that brings it in. In Razz, it is the worst hand showing (again, highest ranking card) that brings it in.

3. Order of Events – Razz Rules In Action

In this section, we’ll give you a basic run down of the events in a Razz poker hand as they would normally take place. Remember that, if all other players fold, the hand ends immediately with the last active player winning the pot. This is actually very common in Razz, but in our example, we’ll take it all the way to the showdown. The following walk-through assume FL stakes of $2/$4:

  1. Antes: Everyone places an ante of $0.50 into the pot.
  2. Deal: Each player is dealt three cards; the first two face down hole cards, and the third a face-up door card.
  3. Bring-In: The player with the highest (worst) door card places the forced bring-in of $1, or a full-bet of $2 if he so chooses.
  4. 1st Betting Round: Starting with the player left of the bring-in, everyone must either call, raise, or fold. If the bring-in has bet the minimum $1, the next player must bet a full $2 to continue. All bets/raises must equal the low-end stakes of $2.
  5. 4th Street: A fourth card is dealt face up to each player, followed by another round of betting, starting (now, and from here on out) with the player with the lowest (best) hand showing. This player may check, bet or fold. Again, all bets/raises must be $2.
  6. 5th Street: A fifth card is dealt face-up to each player, followed by another betting round. For this and all ensuing rounds, bets and raises increase to match the high-end stakes of $4.
  7. 6th Street: A sixth card is dealt to each player; another betting round ensues.
  8. 7th Street: The final card is dealt to each hand, this time face down. The final betting round starts with the same player as the previous street (lowest hand).
  9. Showdown: Assuming two or more players remain active in the hand, it’s time for the showdown. Players will reveal their best 5-card low hand. The lowest hand wins the pot. In case of a tie, the pot is split evenly among the winners.

4. Tips on How to Win Razz Poker Like a Pro

When I began writing this section, I didn’t realize how in-depth it would become. In fact, what I expected to take about twenty minutes ended up trailing into a second day of consideration and typing. This lead to my ultimate decision to give this last section an entire page of its own.

That said, please continue to our Razz Strategy.

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