Razz Poker Rules: Learn How to Play Razz Poker
Razz is very similar to Seven Card Stud Hi Lo with a couple of exceptions. The player with the lowest hand wins the pot and there are no qualifying rules for the lowest hand so any hand is eligible.
Razz is a poker game for 2 to 8 players, using a standard 52-card deck and is one of the more interesting poker variants, based on the rules of Stud Poker, but with very different requirements for winning.
In 7 Card Stud, like most poker games, the highest ranking hand wins the pot. In Razz, however, it is just the opposite – the lowest hand wins the pot.
Razz can be played in Fixed Limit, No Limit and Pot Limit; however Fixed Limit is the most common option and that’s what I’ll be focusing on in this guide.
Object of Razz Poker
The object of Razz is simple – to use any 5 out of the 7 cards dealt to you throughout the hand to create the lowest ranking 5 card poker hand.
As always in stud poker 3 cards are dealt face down so only the player can see them and the other 4 cards are dealt face up so everybody can see them.
Unlike Stud Hi Low, which requires a low hand to “Qualify” as 8 or better (nothing better than 8-high), there is no restriction for a qualifying hand in Razz, therefore any hand qualifies. You simply must develop the absolute lowest hand to win.
The lowest possible hand would be A-2-3-4-5. How is this low, you ask? It’s got an Ace, and by the way, it’s a Straight! Actually, in any “Low” version of poker, Aces are always counted as the number 1, the lowest card, whilst Straight and Flushes aren’t considered combinations and hence are ignored.
Fixed Limit Poker – How to Bet
Razz is almost always played with a Fixed Limit betting structure, although you may come across a No Limit or Pot Limit game on occasion.
Fixed Limit means that no player may wager more or less than the stakes of the game; $2/$4 for example.
Fixed Limit means a player must place all Bets or Raises in a pre-determined increment which is related to the stakes of the table, for example at a $2 / $4 table.
- For the first two betting rounds (3rd and 4th Street), bets must be in increments of the low-end stakes of $2. Bet $2 -> Raise $4 -> Re-Raise $6 etc.
- The final three betting rounds (5th, 6th and 7th Street) require bets / raises in increments of the high-end stakes of $4. Bet $4 -> Raise $8 -> Re-Raise $12 etc.
There are a maximum of 4 raises permitted on each betting round.
The Antes & Dealer Button
In Razz Poker, a dealer button is used to mark the theoretical dealer before each hand begins. This is important as it dictates the order that the cards are dealt with the first card being dealt to the player to the left of the dealer button.
At the end of each hand the dealer button rotates to the next player to the left so that each player takes it in turn to be the “dealer”.
Razz does not require blind bets, as in Texas Holdem or Omaha Poker, but uses a small Ante Bet and Bring-In Bet.
Before the start of each hand, every player must place an “Ante” into the pot. This small amount ensures that there are chips to be won in every hand. The Ante varies somewhat, but is generally 10% to 25% of the low-end stakes, so for example at a $2 / $4 stakes table then the Ante would be around $0.20.
The Hole and Door Cards
The hand begins with all players putting their Ante bet of $0.20 into the pot.
Each player is then dealt 3 cards:
- The first two cards are dealt face-down for only the player to see. These are called the “hole cards“.
- The third card is dealt face-up so that everybody at the table can see it. This is called the “door card“.
The door card is important as the player who has the lowest door card must place a forced “Bring In” bet into the pot. If two or more players have the same lowest card then it is decided by the player with the lowest suit. Suits rank lowest to highest in alphabetical order – Clubs (lowest), Diamonds, Hearts, Spades (highest).
The bring in bet can also vary, but is most often equal to half of the low-end stakes, so for example at a $2 / $4 stakes table then the Bring In would be around $1.
The First Betting Round (“3rd Street”)
Once the Bring In bet has been placed then the first round of betting begins, starting with the player left of the bring in player and proceeding around the table in a clockwise fashion.
Each player in order must choose the action they wish to take from the following options:
- Call: You match a bet already placed in the current betting round. In this case it will be the bring in bet amount unless another player has already raised that bet.
- Raise: You not only match, but increase a bet already placed in the current betting round. After a raise is made all other players must match your raised bet or fold (or raise again!).
- Fold: To forfeit the current hand, and all chips in the pot by throwing in your cards, face-down without showing them to any other player (in order to not influence the hand)
- All-In: If you do not have enough chips to cover a bet (or just enough to cover), you may go All-In by pushing your remaining chips into a separate stack near the center of the table. If you lose, you are out of chips and out of the game. If you win, you may only collect chips from each player equal to the amount of your All-In Bet.
When it comes back around to the bring in player, he may call by adding enough chips to his bring-in bet to match the current bet. He may also raise or fold, of course.
4th Street – Second Betting Round
Each card dealt is called a street. A fourth card is dealt to each player, face-up.
The second round of betting commences, same as the last, except that for this round and every round hereafter, the player with the highest open hand (face-up cards only) will always start off the betting.
On 4th Street there are only two exposed cards per player so the highest possible hand at this point is a pair of Aces.
As no bet has yet been placed in the pot in this round of betting there are additional betting options now as follows:
- Check: To place no chips in the pot, but to continue in the hand (not fold). A check can only be placed if no other player has already bet in the current betting round. If a player bets after a check has been made, all players who checked must at least call the bet or fold their hand
- Bet: The first person to place chips into the pot in a betting round is placing a bet which must then be matched by any other player who wants to continue in the hand.
Betting will continue until all players who wish to continue in the hand have placed an equal amount of chips into the pot. Players who do not, must fold and play no further part until the next hand is dealt.
5th, 6th and 7th Street
The pattern continues with another 3 cards dealt individually and after each card is dealt a betting round takes place:
- 5th Street: Each player is dealt a fifth card face-up, followed by another round of betting, same as the last and starting with the player showing the best hand from the three exposed “up cards”. From here out, all bets and raises must be equal to the high-end stakes, for example in a $2/$4 fixed limit game the increment would be $4.
- 6th Street: Each player is dealt a sixth card, face-up. Another round of betting begins again with the player showing the best hand from the now four exposed “up cards”.
- 7th Street: Each player receives a seventh and final card, this time face-down. The exposed “up cards” have not changed, therefore the player who started the previous betting round will do so again for this final betting round.
It is not uncommon for all but one player to fold at some stage during the hand, with other players not wishing to match the winning players bet and negating the need for a showdown, In this situation the winning player receives the pot and is not required to show his hand to the table.
If two or more players are left in the hand after the betting completes on 7th street then a showdown will take place to decide the winner.
All remaining players will use any 5 of their 7 cards to reveal their lowest ranking 5-card poker hand. Again, Aces are always low and Straights / Flushes do not count as combinations.
The player with the lowest ranking poker hand wins the entire pot. In case of a tie, the winning players will split the pot.
The lowest hand is always read from the highest card down, and the hand with the lowest high card will win. To review the low hand rankings and get more information about how low hands are formed then please see our Poker Hand Ranking Guide.
Help – We’ve Run Out of Cards!
There’s not enough cards! Okay, it is possible, though very rare, for an 8-seater hand of Razz to run out of cards before the 7th street is dealt out.
If all 8 players remain in the hand without folding (hence the rarity of this occurrence) there will not be enough cards remaining to deal the 7th street (8 players x 7 cards = 56; there’s only 52 cards in the deck!).
Should this occur, the 7th street will be dealt as a single, face-up card in the center of the table. This card then becomes a community card and all players will use it as their 7th card.