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How To Play Razz - Razz Rules

Article By: RuffPoker.com

In Razz poker the object of the game is to hold the lowest possible hand consisting of five cards. It is a relatively new game of poker and as such is popular with those who see the opportunity to capitalize on inexperienced players. Razz poker differs from the more common forms of poker, i.e. Texas Holdem and Omaha, where the highest/highest and lowest hands win pots.

Razz poker is played in a similar style to Omaha and Seven card stud poker however it does have two key differences that make for a complex strategic poker game. The most important consideration of Razz rules is that aces count ONLY as low cards. Also, differing from Omaha, is that as Razz poker rules dictate that there is no ‘win' for BOTH high and low hands there is a premium on ‘pulling' lower cards, as such it is important to know that the lowest hand in Razz poker is A,2,3,4,5. This can confuse many poker players, who will consider this to be a straight A thru' 5. However in Razz poker, pairs, straights and flushes do not count against a made hand. This is an idiosyncrasy of razz rules that separates the poor players from the profitable, because holding two pair, 5 suited cards or 5 running cards (especially if holding high pictures) does not mean you are sat there with the ‘nut' hand – actually, if you are holding a picture card you have almost certainly lost. Because pairs, straights and flushes have no ranking (do not count against low hands) a hand that consists of 2,3,4,4,10, a suited hand that consists of A,5,7,8,10 or a hand that consists of 6,7,8,9,10 all are the same, 10 high. As such in Razz poker the ace thru' five straight is the best possible (lowest) hand, commonly referred to as the ‘bike' or ‘wheel'.

The same basic principles of gameplay/betting apply to Razz poker as are standard in seven card stud. However there are some subtle differences which make the game unique and opportunistic.

1. First and foremost, as we have mentioned the lowest hand wins the pot.

2. As pairs, straights and flushes do not count as ranked hands A,2,3,4,5 is the ‘nuts' (best possible Razz hand).

3. Before the cards are dealt each player puts in an ‘ante' which is usually a minimal bet.

4. Players are dealt two cards faced down and another card faced up. There then follows a round of betting which starts with the player holding the highest card from those everyone can see (faced up). Here the initial bettor is in a tough situation, holding the highest card but this forces action around the table and players can call the small bet, raise or fold.

5. After everyone has ‘acted' each player is then dealt a 4th card faced up, and a round of betting ensues. This is carried out again with the 5th and 6th cards, both faced up, both separated by a round of betting.

6. In each round the player with the lowest visible hand is the one to act first. With each round of betting the stakes are also normally increased from the small bet figure to around double or maybe even triple the small bet amount. This again forces action and strategic betting based on knowledge of other players cards.

7. Finally a 7th card is dealt to each player this time faced down and a final round of betting takes place. After this all players left in (i.e. that have not folded in previous rounds) go to what is called the ‘showdown', where each player shows their hand and the lowest five card hand wins the pot.

Note: If more than one player has the same hand (common when suite and straight don't count) then the player who has the next lowest card wins the pot. i.e. Player 1 holds A,2,3,4,6, Player 2 holds A,2,3,5,6. Here player 1 wins the pot with a 6 high ‘kicking' 4 which is lower than the 6 high ‘kicking' 5 of player 2. Similarly A,4,6,7,10 beats A,2,3,4,J – 10 high over Jack high and A,3,4,5,8 beats 4,5,6,7,8 – 8 high with a 5 beating 8 high with a 7.