Most poker players will recognise Razz Poker as the “R” in HORSE, but it is becoming a popular stand alone game in its own right. Razz Poker follows the same dealing and betting format as 7 Card Stud Poker, but in Razz the lowest five card hand wins. Although flushes and straights are discounted you want to avoid pairs and trips whenever possible as these severely limit the possibility of making the best low hand. Even players who do not particularly like the concept of betting on the “worst” will need to know how to master Razz Poker as it features in practically all mixed poker games.
How to Play Razz Poker
Although the dealing and betting format is identical to 7 Card Stud Poker, there are distinct differences that players should be aware of. The first, and possibly the most important, is how the winning hand is determined.
In Razz Poker, the lowest fifth card (of the five from seven you are presenting as your “hand”) is the one that counts and then kickers go back in order. For example
A♥,2♦,3♦, 4♠, 7♣ loses to A♥, 3♦, 4♠, 5♠, 6♣ but beats A♥, 2♦, 3♦, 6♣, 7♣.
You do not have to have five cards with a denomination of 8 or less to win a hand of Razz Poker, nor does a hand containing pairs mean you will not win. For example
In a hand containing A♥, 3♦, 3♠, 6♣, 7♣, J♥, K♦ the A♥, 3♦, 6♣, 7♣, J♥ would be the hand that is counted. Although not a particularly strong hand, it would beat A♥, 3♦, 3♠, 7♣, 7♦, J♥, K♦ and would be a good bluffing hand if the cards which were open on the table were A♥, 3♦, 6♣, 7♣.
Finally, the order of play after the initial three cards have been dealt is that the player displaying the highest open card is the first to act (Aces only count as low cards in Razz Stud Poker). In the event of two or more players displaying the same value card, the order of betting is determined by the card´s suit – Spades, Hearts, Diamonds, Clubs – with Spades being the highest. In later rounds of betting, the player displaying the two lowest cards of different value (ie not a pair) is the first to act.
Razz Poker Strategy
“Board Awareness” is the key to winning at Razz Poker. If you see cards being dealt to other players which would pair up cards in your hand, you know the odds of you hitting a pair are lower and consequently the chances of being dealt seven unique cards are higher – a clear advantage in Razz Poker. Ideally, your starting hand should consist of three cards valued six or lower with pairs to your cards already on display. It is possible to successfully play a hand consisting of 7,8,9, but avoid tens, paint and pairs.
On full ring games and in tournaments, bet strong on good opening hands. Try to keep as few players in a hand as possible unless you get the nuts hand (A,2,3,4,5) – in which case slow-play until the seventh street when other players are more inclined to call your bets. Provided you can do it economically, get caught bluffing at least once, and then your stronger hands will see some action when you most need it.