Razz is a draw game of poker where you attempt to make the worst possible five card hand from the seven you are dealt. For the purposes of doing this, aces are considered low, and flushes and straights are ignored. Therefore the best possible hand in razz poker is A2345.
The betting structure in Razz is identical to that of seven card stud poker whereby each player pays an ante before any of the cards are dealt, three cards are then dealt to each player (2 down – 1 up) and a round of betting proceeds. Further face up cards are dealt one at a time after each round of betting (known as fourth, fifth and sixth streets) and there is a final round of betting (the “river”) after the seventh card has been dealt, face down.
After the initial deal of three cards, the player showing the highest hole card (remember, one is dealt face up) commences the betting with either a “bring-in” or a bet. Play follows in a clockwise direction around the table thereafter, with each player having the option of calling, raising or folding. Betting and raising in Razz is always done flop limit, to a maximum of four raises per round of betting – the last being called the cap. When the next round of betting begins, it is the player showing the two lowest cards who commences the betting, and so on through the remaining rounds.
The best way to play Razz is by being observant and noticing the cards that have been dealt openly. If you can see a lot of low cards out at the very beginning, it might be that it is going to be quite difficult for any player to form a good low hand, and this is when bluffing in Razz becomes an option. Watch out for players who clearly have the beating of you by fifth street. If they are showing ??478, and your cards are 4689T, it is most unlikely that you are going to get the two cards you need to get under his low hand. Furthermore, a second (or subsequent card) of the same rank in your hand effectively negates its value – so 34689JQ will beat A2447TJ.
Knowing how to play Razz is an important element if you want to explore mixed poker games such as “HORSE” or “7/8 Game”. It is best that you play Razz initially at low stakes until you become used to the probability of hands, and the odds of drawing low cards that will fit snugly between the cards in your existing hand.