Poking Around: What You Should  Know about Razz Poker

Razz poker set up image

📖 Published on: June 11th, 2024

✍️ Updated: June 11th, 2024

⏳ 8 mins read


Gone are the days when Texas Hold’em was the go-to poker game for friends and colleagues during gatherings. Razz Poker is now a strong contender for a great table game at home or even at some casinos. A variation of other popular stud games, Razz offers a fresh twist on traditional poker rules, making it a unique and engaging option for players looking to mix things up. In this blog, we’ll break down all things that will ‘razz up’ your gameplay and elevate your poker skills to new heights.


What is Razz Poker?


If you’re familiar with or have mastered Stud poker, then Razz poker is a version that has a similar dynamic. The core objective of the game is to have the lowest possible hand instead of the highest hand. A typical hand that should bode you well in some winnings looks like this: A-2-3-4-5, often called the "wheel" or "bicycle." This is the best possible hand in Razz because it consists of the five lowest cards with no pairs, straights, or flushes.


Lady Razz poker players image


How Does the Game Work?

The game begins with a hand presented to the player who gets two cards facing down and another card facing up, a total of three playing cards. Players receive more cards face-up during the course of multiple betting rounds. Dealt face down is the last card.


  • Let's take a closer look at Razz's workings. In Razz, the best (lowest) five-card hand is the only one that matters. Each player receives seven cards total during the deal. This is how an average hand proceeds:
  • First Deal: Two face-down cards (hole cards) and one face-up card (door card) are dealt to each player. To begin the game, the player with the highest door card must make a "bring-in" wager.
  • Fourth Street: A face-up card is dealt to every player. The betting round is initiated by the player whose hand has the lowest showing.
  • Fifth Street: Each player receives a face-up card once more, and then there is another round of betting, which once more begins with the player with the lowest hand.
  • Sixth Street: A new betting round is initiated once each player receives their fourth face-up card.
  • Seventh Street: Each player receives the last card, which brings the total number of cards to seven, face down. The player displaying the lowest hand opens the last betting round.


In a showdown, each player reveals their hole cards, and the pot is won by the best (lowest) five-card hand.


What to Know about the Antes and Bring-in Betting


Ante and bring-in bets are used in Razz, just like in Seven-Card Stud, to entice players to act. We'll use a $10/$20 Razz game with a $1 ante and a $5 bring-in as our example. (Razz is usually played as a fixed-limit betting game, just like most Stud games.)


Prior to the cards being dealt, each player in our $10/$20 game places a $1 ante. This tiny, required wager guarantees that there is always money in the pot, encouraging players to participate. The player with the highest face-up card must post the $5 bring-in bet to begin play after the first three cards are dealt. In addition to establishing a rhythm for the game and making sure that players can't just sit back and wait for the ideal hand, this required bet helps to get the betting started.


Razz poker graphic image


In order to create a pot that would be worth battling for, each player who wants to be dealt in and receive a hand would have to submit the $1 ante. After that, each player receives their first three cards, and it is decided who has to post the bring-in first. In razz, the player with the highest door card (the Kx is the highest-ranking card in the game) must pay the bring-in, in contrast to seven-card stud where the person with the lowest-ranking door card must post the $5 bring-in.


In Razz Poker, suits only matter when more than one player has a king showing on Third Street. In this case, the player with the highest ranking king must post the bring-in based on the following rankings:


K♠ (highest)

K♥ (next highest)

K♦ (third highest)

K♣ (lowest)


Beginner-friendly Tips to Try at Razz Poker


If it’s your first time playing Razz poker, a few tips to keep in mind include:


Keep an eye out for the common starting hands.

Similar to Hold'em, it's critical to learn how to play with strong Razz starting hands. Playing hands that have a chance of forming a wheel (A-2-3-4-5) is crucial.


Thus, (A 2) 3 or (A 3) 5 would be excellent starting hands. Simply fold your hand if you are holding two high cards. You’re already in a bad position before you even put your chips in.


These are some excellent Razz beginning hands to focus on: (A 2) 3 (A 2) 4 (A 3) 4 (2 3) 4 (A 2) 5 (A 3) 5 (A 4) 5 (2 3) 5 (2 4) 5 (A 2) 6

A guy playing Razz Poker image


Bluff with an aggressive yet visible hand.

Razz is a partially informed game. While they cannot see your hole cards, your opponents are aware of some of your cards. Additionally, it can be a favorable position to bluff if you hold a hand with low-up cards, such as (K J) 2-3-4. Even though your opponents are blind to how poor your hole cards are, they might back off from a pot if you show power with a large wager.


This element of partial information adds a strategic layer to the game, as you must carefully observe your opponents' up cards and bet accordingly. For instance, if you notice that your opponents have high-up cards, you might want to be more aggressive, even if your hole cards aren't great.


Conversely, if their up cards are low, indicating potentially strong hands, you might play more cautiously. Mastering this aspect of Razz can greatly enhance your ability to make calculated bluffs and informed betting decisions, giving you an edge over less observant players.


Remember, dead cards can be considered a good hand.

You may learn a lot about what other players are holding in Razz poker games. Recall that seven cards total, and four of them are face up. This might help you gauge the strength of your hand.


Always keep an eye out for dead cards. These are the up cards of your opponent that match your own up cards. Razz pairs are problematic since you're constantly attempting to get as near to the wheel as you can. It is therefore more difficult for you to form pairs if an opponent has paired your up cards. You're in a wonderful position there as the hand continues.


Razz up your Poker Game


Razz poker is a game that can add excitement and strategy to your poker nights, as it's more than just a version of Stud poker. It provides a welcome diversion from conventional high-hand poker games by focusing on the lowest hand.


Razz offers a fun and demanding gaming experience that will keep everyone on their toes, whether you're playing with pals at home or in a casino. Try Razz poker the next time you want to shake things up and learn how it may really improve your poker skills.


Read more about other exciting poker variants that are popular in the US from our blogs at GambleSpot.

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