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.