Razz Poker Rules & How to Play Razz
Razz Poker is a version of Seven Card Stud where the player with the lowest hand wins the pot. This game uses A-5 lowball rules, which simply means aces always count as high, and straights and flushes are disregarded as part of the hands rankings. Therefore, the best possible hand in Razz Poker is A-2-3-4-5, and the second best is A-2-3-4-6 with suits having no relevance. If you’re looking to learn Razz Poker rules, it is first important you understand Ace to Five lowball rankings.
Razz Poker rules are quite simple, though for players not already familiar with seven card stud, we’ll break them down in detail. At most live card rooms, and online at PokerStars.com, Razz Poker is played with up to eight players per table and uses fixed limit betting structure (most Razz games are Limit Razz but no limit and pot limit do exist but not online). The game starts with each player making an ante bet. This is a forced bet all players must make before they are dealt any cards. The amount of the ante is generally one-tenth to one-quarter the size of the game’s small bet. For example, at PokerStars.com $2/$4 use a 25 cent ante, $5/$10 a 50 cent ante and $30/$60 a $5 ante, so as you can see it is not an exact science; the size of the ante varies from game to game and does not have a direct correlation to the stakes as far as fixed percentage goes.
Once all players have posted their ante, each player is dealt two cards face down and a third card face up for all players to see. The player with the highest face up card is required to make a live forced bet called the bring-in. At PokerStars.com $2/$4 uses a $1 bring-in, $5/$10 use a $2 bring-in and $30/$60 use a $10 bring-in. As you can see again, the exact size of the bring-in is not a standard percentage of the betting stakes, as the actual percent varies between stakes and where the game is being played.
The bring-in is a live bet which starts the initial betting round. Once it is made, action proceeds around the table, with each player having the option to fold, call or raise, unless the pot is capped (which is 4-bets at PokerStars.com, and 5-bets at some sites), in which case the only options are to fold or call. When this betting round is complete, players are dealt a second face up card for all players to see. The player showing the lowest hand is given first option to check or bet, and action moves around the table clockwise until the betting round is complete. The stakes now double for the remainder of the hand, and two additional up cards will be dealt, one at a time, with a betting round after each. This leaves players having two hole cards (visible to only them) and four board cards (face up cards everyone can see) with a betting round having just taken place. A final card is then dealt to each player face down, and the final betting round occurs. Once complete, players will expose their three down cards for a showdown, and the player showing the best five-card A-5 lowball hand is awarded the pot.
A Razz Poker rule that exists yet would never come into play involves the potential for a community card. This is a factor because Razz has a 52 card deck and there are eight players each able to receive up to 7 cards each. This equals 56 cards. In the event that there are not enough cards remaining to deal each player their final down card, a card will be placed in the middle of the table as a community card each player uses. In all of our years of playing, we’ve never seen this Razz Poker rule utilized, as never does a game go eight handed after the first betting round, never mind each hand making it through the first four betting rounds. Again, this Razz Poker rule will never come into play; it is simply there for the players who conspire to say what if, and all might agree to check down a pot to the river in order to see what happens.