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Introduction to Razz
IntroductionIn this article
- The rules of Razz
- Differences to Stud Hi/Lo
- How you select your starting hands
Razz is a variant of Seven Card Stud where the lowest hand wins the showdown. Razz is basically the low-only variant of Seven Card Stud.
As opposed to Texas Hold'em, Razz usually doesn't have blinds, but so-called antes. Every active player at the table has to place this basic bet. Afterwards, the cards are dealt. The ante is usually between 1/5 up to 1/10 of the small bet. This depends on the game platform or the casino, respectively.
At the beginning of a round, every player receives three cards, two hidden and one face up. The cards that are face down are referred to as hole cards, pocket cards or downcards. The one that's face up is called upcard or door card.
As opposed to Hold'em, there are no community cards. During the course of a round, each player is dealt three downcards and four upcards. From these cards he chooses five to make his final poker hand.
Every player is dealt three cards now - two downcards and one upcard. In Razz, the player with the highest exposed upcard places the "bring in", i.e. either another fixed amount (complete) or a very tiny bet (bring in). The other players at the table continue acting clockwise. When all bets have been made, the first betting round is completed.
Every player now gets another card, the so-called "fourth street". Afterwards, the player with the strongest (lowest) exposed hand begins, either by checking or by betting the amount of a small bet (i.e. $0.5 in a $0.5/$1 game). This is followed by another betting round.
The players are dealt another upcard, the so-called "fifth street". Once again, the player with the lowest upcards opens the round. He can either call or place a big bet.
From the "fifth street" onwards, all bets are made in big bets (i.e. $1 in $0.5/$1 game).
Next, each player receives another upcard, the so-called "sixth street". Again, the player with the lowest upcards opens the round. Another betting round follows.
Afterwards, the seventh and last card, a downcard, is dealt to the players. Just as in the previous rounds, the player with the lowest upcards opens the betting round. There is then a final betting round which is followed by the showdown.
If there are multiple players left in the game after the final betting round, the player who made the last bet or the last raise is the first one to show his cards. The other players expose their cards clockwise.
The player with the best ace to five low hand consisting of five cards wins the pot. But keep in mind: There is no qualifier as in Seven Card Stud Hi/Lo or Omaha Hi/Lo - the best low hand wins the entire pot. After the pot is given to the best low hand, a new hand begins.
If two or more hands have the same value, the pot is equally divided between them. The suits don't play a role when evaluating the hands.
Difference to Stud H/L
Razz uses the so-called "Ace to Five" or "California" ranking method for low hands: A straight or a flush do not count, aces always count low. The best hand in Razz is the "wheel", which consists of the cards 5, 4, 3, 2, A.
You have to keep in mind that no qualifier ("eight or better") is needed in Razz in order to win the pot. This is where this variant differs from Seven Card Stud Hi/Lo or Omaha Hi/Lo.
A low hand without a pair is always ranked from its highest hand downwards.
The starting hands in Razz are easy to memorise. If you have three cards between A and 4, you have an excellent starting hand, anything between A and 6 is also very good. You should play both of these hands aggressively. Three cards under 7 usually make up playable hands. Pairs in your hands are not a disadvantage either.
The following hands are ranked from very weak to very strong:
- 97653 (a so-called 9-low)
- 65432 (a so-called 6-low)
- 5432A (a "wheel", the best possible hand)
In Razz, a tight approach is necessary in order to play profitably in the long run. Don't play hands that contain broadways, i.e. don't play T,J,Q,K. Nines are also borderline. Also keep in mind that a bad hole card (8,9) also has a negative effect on the playability of your hand.
Starting hands selection
When selecting your starting hands, you should not only pay attention to your own hand. It is also important what your opponents have or how they perceive your hand. If you have a bad card, i.e. a high card such as a J or a K for an upcard, your hand is usually not playable.
Another important aspect are dead cards. In Razz you don't want to have a pair. If your opponents have the same cards that you have, they are blocking your pairs, which is an advantage in Razz.
You have A43, a very strong hand. You should look into the round. Every A, every 4 and every 3 lower the chances that your cards pair, therefore making your hand weaker. That's why the value of your hand increases.
The opposite would be the case if your opponents have cards that you would like to be dealt yourself. Every exposed 2,5,6 and 7 makes your hand a little weaker, since you will be missing the outs to improve your hand further. However, you should still always play hands such as A43.
As you have now seen, the game of Razz is played as follows:
- All the players pay the antes.
- Every player receives two downcards and one upcard.
- The player with the highest exposed card opens the first betting round. The minimum amount he has to pay is the bring-in and the maximum amount he can pay is the small bet (to complete). The action continues clockwise around the table.
- On the 4th street, every player receives another upcard.
- On the 5th and 6th street, each player is dealt another upcard. This is followed by a betting round, this time all bets have to be made in big bets.
- On the 7th street, every player receives a downcard and there is a final betting round.
In addition to that, this article introduced you to a few basic concepts and approaches regarding your starting hand. You are now well-prepared for your first steps in Razz.
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