The object of Razz is to make the lowest possible five-card hand from the seven cards you are dealt. In Razz, straights and flushes do not count against the player for low, and the ace always plays low. Thus, the best possible Razz hand is 5-4-3-2-A, or 5 high, also known as “the wheel” or “the bicycle”.
Like seven card stud, there’s no dealer in position razz. However there’s a small difference in who begins the action, which we’ll explain shortly.
The pot starts with every player placing an ante. If you’re playing limit $20 / $40 razz then the ante could be $2 but the house sets the amount. Once all players have placed their ante in the pot the initial three cards are dealt to each player.
All players get two cards dealt face down, their hole cards, and one card dealt face up, which is known as the door card. To get the hand started, one player will be forced to make a bring in wager. The bring in wager is half the small betting limit in a limit game and based on a preset table amount in a pot limit game. In the $20 / $40 example the bring in is $10.
The player with the lowest ranked door card will bring in, and considering this is razz, the weakest door card would be the king because aces are low. If two players have a king then the suit decides who brings in. The suits are ranked spades, hearts, diamonds, clubs, from highest to lowest. As in most forms of poker, the action plays out in a clock wise fashion. So on each round after the first player acts, the player to their immediate left is the next to act.
From here every other player in turn can fold, call, or raise. The play continues to the left of the bring in until all players have acted on the last bet or raise.
If the player that brings in wants to raise they can complete for the amount of the lower betting limit. In this example a complete bet would be $20. If they don’t complete then the first raiser after them can complete to $20 as an initial raise.
After all players have acted in the first round all remaining players are dealt a fourth card face up which is called 4th street. Because we don’t have a dealer button, the first player to act after everyone has received their 4th card is the player displaying the strongest hand with their two face up cards.
After this there’s another round of betting, followed by the 5th street dealt face up and a round of betting, 6th street dealt face up with a betting round, and then finally 7th street which is the players 7th card, which will be dealt face down. Once all remaining players have their 7th card there is a final round of betting and remaining players will show down and expose their cards to determine who has the best hand and is the winner of the pot.
Razz is usually played as a fixed limit game. Using the limits of $20 / $40 above the limit of a bet is $20 on the 3rd and 4th street, and $40 on the 5th, 6th, and 7th streets.
As razz is a low ball game, hand rankings are a bit more complicated. We’ve outlined some examples below to show what hands are strong and which ones are weak, and which hands would win and lose in a show down situation.
Flushes and straights don’t count in razz so the best possible hand that a player can make is A 2 3 4 5. Pairs are always considered high in razz, so if a player has a pair and another has no pairs but a K in their hand, then the player with king low would win. The rank of your hand is determined by your highest card, so even if an opposing player has one lower card than you, and one higher card, you would win as your highest card is lower than hers.
For example, Ace of Hearts, 2 of Spades, 3 of Clubs, 6 of Hearts, and Jack of Diamonds beats Ace of Diamonds, 2 of Diamonds, 3 of Clubs, 4 of Spades, and Queen of Hearts.
This is because the first hand is jack low and the second hand is queen low.
Another example could be when players have the same pair. Ace of Diamonds, Ace of Spades, 3 of Diamonds, 6 of Spades, and 7 of Clubs beats Ace of Hearts, Ace of Clubs, 2 of Spades, 4 of Spades, and 9 of Diamonds because the first hand is seven low with aces and the second hand is nine low with aces.
As we touched on earlier, flushes and straights don’t count in razz, so here’s an example of a hand where a player has a flush but still wins.
Ace of Hearts, 4 of Hearts, 6 of Hearts, 9 of Hearts, and Jack of Hearts suit beats 8 of Spades, 9 of Diamonds, 10 of Spades, Jack of Clubs, and Queen of Clubs.
As the flushes and straights don’t count, the first hand is jack low and the second hand is queen low.
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