If you’re looking to mix up your next poker night, grown tired of classic 7 card stud, and there are no World Series of Poker reruns on, razz poker may be for you. One of the oldest poker variants, razz games first became popular when the standard deck grew up 20 to 52 cards.
Our expert guide will cover:
At its most simple, the player’s goal in Razz poker is to make the lowest possible five-card hand from the seven cards they’re dealt.
The game is quite similar to seven-card stud in structure, with the exception that the lowest hand wins.
Like most poker variations, a hand of razz begins with each player anteing. At that point, each player is dealt two cards face down (hole cards) and one card face up (door card.) Betting action begins with the player showing the highest door card and moves clockwise around the table.
After the initial betting round completes, each player will be dealt another card followed by another round of betting, and so on until each player has seven cards.
Typically, Razz has an eight-player maximum and is played with limit betting, which means there are fixed increments for each bet.
Read on for a deeper dive into the rules, how betting rounds work, and the best hands in Razz poker.
Remember, the purpose in Razz poker is to secure the lowest possible five-card hand. As such, the best possible hand is 5-4-3-2-A, which is known as the “wheel” or “bicycle”.
As mentioned above, each hand of Razz poker begins with each player anteing. The exact value may vary by casino, table, and game variation, but typically the ante is 10% of the big bet. If you’re playing at a $5/$10 table, for example, the ante would be $1.
Once each player has placed their ante, the cards will be dealt.
Each player will receive two face-down “hole” cards, and one face-up “door” card. This stage in the game is known as “third street.”
The player with the highest-value face-up card is known as the “bring in”, and action begins with them. The “bring in” player must fold or choose to place either a partial bet, or a full bet (the smaller increment; exact values will vary based on game & table).
If there is a tie in determining the “bring in”, ties will be broken by suit. Highest to lowest: spades, hearts, diamonds, and clubs, and the highest suit brings in.
Betting action continues clockwise around the table until the round is complete.
Once the initial betting round is complete, each active player will be dealt another face-up card. This is known as “fourth street”.
Unlike the first betting round, this round’s betting action now begins with the player with the lowest face-up hand. This player can choose to fold, check, or bet, and betting action again continues clockwise around the table.
On fourth street, betting increments are still the small bet (e.g. $5 in a $5/$10 game).
Each active player is now dealt another face-up card. This is known at “fifth street”. Action again begins with the lowest face-up hand, and on fifth street, betting increments are now the larger bet size (e.g. $10 in a $5/$10 game.)
Action continues clockwise around the circle.
This process – an additional card, followed by betting action – continues on sixth street.
By this point, each player now has two face-down cards and four face-up cards.
Each player now receives their seventh and final card, which is again face-down. This phase of the game is known as seventh street, or the river.
Again, action begins with the player whom is showing the lowest face-up hand, and proceeds clockwise around the circle for a final betting round.
At the end of this round of betting, assuming there is more than one remaining player, the game moves into the showdown phase.
In this phase of the game, all remaining players reveal their face-down cards to determine the winner – again, the player with the lowest hand. More on hand rankings in a minute.
The reveal begins with the last bettor, and then moves clockwise around the circle.
In the event of a tie, the pot will be split equally between the tied players.
We’ve said it multiple times, but it bears repeating: the best hand in a game of Razz poker is the lowest one. In Razz, the nuts (the best possible hand) is 5, 4, 3, 2, A.
A couple things to keep in mind before we discuss hand ranks:
Unlike a game like Hold’em, there isn’t a set number of possible hands with names in Razz.
The best possible hand in a game of Razz poker would be A-2-3-4-5. This is known as the wheel, and would be “five-low”.
The next best possible hand would be A-2-3-4-6 (6-4 low.)
The latter hand would lose to the former because 6 is higher than 5. This same pattern continues throughout the deck: 6-low beats 7-low, 7-low beats 8-low, etc.
While flushes and straights don’t count against your hand, pairs do. This means that the lowest pair (e.g. A-A-2-3-4) would still lose out to the highest single-card hand (e.g. 9-10-J-Q-K).
In short: stay focused on low cards and avoid pairs & three/four of a kind – lowest hand wins.
While this isn’t a one-size-fits-all rule, it’s a good rule of thumb. If you have cards higher than eight, or a pair(s), you may want to consider folding.
You’re trying to avoid pairs & high cards, and you’re all playing from the same deck. Keeping an eye on what other players are showing face-up is a good way to help inform probability & decision-making.
In some instances, such as if you have a big bankroll or love your cards, it makes sense to “bully” other players’ out of a hand with an aggressive raise when their face-up hole card is lower than their competitors.
Because it’s an iteration of 7 card stud, it might be tricky to find a free online poker version, but shop around and you may be able to find a free razz poker.
The objective in Texas hold’em is to build the best five card hand with the highest card values, while the goal in razz is to build the best five card hand with the weakest card values. Whereas an Ace is the highest-ranked card in hold’em, it’s the lowest-ranked card in razz.
The Ace is low in razz poker and what you want to help build the lowest hand possible and win the pot.
The best hand in razz is 5-4-3-2-Ace, which is also known as the wheel.
Razz poker is based off 7 card stud poker rules with the primary difference being that you win by building the lowest five card hand.