Razz poker is an exciting variation of seven-card stud. Stud poker is every game of poker where each player will receive a mix of up and down facing cards. What is interesting about razz is that it’s entirely opposite to the regular seven-card stud. Aces will always count as low, and neither flushes nor straights will count against your hand, so the best combination you could possibly get (regardless of suit) is 5, 4, 3, 2, and A.
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Rules for Playing Razz
Before the dealer starts dealing cards, every player will have to place bets or ante. The amount that is used for ante is usually around 10–15% of the bet. So let’s say that we play a razz game where the limit is $5/$10, the ante would be $1. The initial amount is paid before the hand is dealt, and all players will have to pay the cost before continuing to the dealing part of the game.
Razz uses a regular “dealer” button, like in stud poker, and the “dealer” button will pass to the left at the end of each round. Furthermore, the button will determine how cards are dealt.
At the beginning, each player will get three cards. Two of those cards will remain face-down, and they are called hole cards. The term “ace in the hole” originated in poker because of the hidden advantage a player might have. The third is placed face-up, and it will determine the course of the entire round. The final (face-up) card of the round is also known as “the door card.” The player holding the highest-value card will start the round. The options are to fold, where they will lose ante only, to pay the “bring in,” which is usually the same as the ante, or to raise for the five times of the ante or the amount of the low bet.
After that, other bets are taken clockwise. Each player will have an opportunity to either fold, raise, or to follow the ante. If the first player raises to the low bet, the other players will either follow or raise to the high bet.
Of course, if the second player raises the bet, all the players will have to match it.
After all bets are placed, each remaining player will get an additional card that is called the “fourth street.” The fourth street will remain face-up, and players will proceed to the next stage of bets.
Unlike the first round, the player with the strongest cards (or the lowest) will start the bets. They can either check or place the low bet, which is $5 in our case.
After the bets are done, and players have decided to either follow or fold, every remaining player will get an additional card facing up. Again, the player with the lowest-value cards will lead the betting round.
Counting the fifth street and forward, all bets and raises are in big increments. For our game, it would be $10.
Similarly to the last few rounds, each remaining player will receive an additional card that is facing down, and the betting round will start. The player with the lowest-value exposed cards will lead the round.
Seventh Street — River
During the seventh street, each player will receive the final hidden card that is called the river. This secretive card is dealt face-down, which means that only the “owner” will be able to see it. And no peeking! After the cards are dealt, get ready for the betting round.
Similarly to the previous rounds, the first player to act will be the one with the lowest-value cards. Of course, if only one player remains, they will win. After the betting round is done, if more than two players remain, they will proceed to the showdown.
Every remaining player will have three cards facing down and four cards facing up at the end of the game.
When the betting round is complete, in case more than one player remains, the showdown will start. The last person who placed a bet or raised would show his hand. If there were no bets during the final round, the player in the earliest seat would show their hand. Other players will proceed to do the same in the clockwise direction.
The player that has the strongest five-card Ace-to-Five low hand wins the pot. One thing that is important to mention is that the “eight or better” rule will not apply to the razz game, so the person with the lowest hand will take the pot.
Furthermore, if two players have the same hand, the pot is split between them. Also, suits won’t account for the winning combination in the showdown.
The game is similar to any other stud poker; each player will have the option of raising, betting, checking, or folding. Naturally, this will depend on the actions of the previous player. If a player is the first to act, they can either check, which will allow them to continue playing without additional bets or bet a certain amount depending on the round.
If a player placed some bet, the next player could opt to match the bet, raise, or fold.
Potential Situations and Additional Rules
Since the standard deck has fifty-two cards, if you play a game of razz with eight people, it might happen that, by the end of Sixth Street, none of the players fold. As we know, each player gets seven cards total, and it would be impossible for all players to get that number.
The additional community card will be positioned on the poker table that will serve as the last card for all players. This is the only case where a community card can be in stud poker.
Minimum number of players is two, while the maximum is eight.
If during the bring-in two or more people have the same highest-value card, the acting player is determined by the suit of the highest-value card. When it comes to the ranking order of suits, it goes like this: spades, hearts, diamonds, and clubs. Now, for example, if the highest showing card is the Jack of Spades and the Jack of Diamonds, the Jack of Spades would lead the next round. This is counted only for the bring-ins and won’t count during the showdown where the pot is equally split.
While scoring, it is worth remembering that flush and straight won’t count at all. The best winning combination would be 5, 4, 3, 2, A, and it is called “the wheel.” Furthermore, players shouldn’t count pairs, triples, and four-of-a-kinds either. Unlike in stud, razz hands will always count in reverse. So five non-pairs will always beat a four-of-a-kind, and a pair is stronger than a triple.
Razz poker is perfect for all the players who feel that they don’t really have much luck, and it’s impossible for them to get “something good.” The whole game is based on getting the hand that would be useless in any other type of poker.