How To Play Poker

5 Quick Tips: How to Play Razz Poker

Illustration of Vintage man playing poker

Published: June 17, 2024
Written by Global Poker

Ever wondered what Razz Poker is all about? Uncover the secrets in our ultimate guide to mastering this often-overlooked variant.

Also known as seven-card Razz, Razz Poker is a lowball poker variant where the goal is to form the lowest possible five-card hand. Razz is one of the oldest forms of poker on record, but the game drifted into relative obscurity during the 1990s and early 2000s. However, because of the rise in popularity of mixed games like H.O.R.S.E, Razz has been reintroduced to a whole new generation and is steadily making its way back into the mainstream. 

On its own, Razz still isn't overly popular, so it's rarely offered at casinos, online or otherwise. Most of the time you will play the game as part of a mixed format, so it's worth getting a decent grasp on how to play Razz. Here are our five quick tips to help you play Razz Poker.

1. Play Tight and Aggressive

Playing loose is a good strategy in certain situations, but not in the opening stages of Razz poker. Playing too many hands aggressively early on will more than likely cause you to bleed chips and before you know it, your stack will be gone. Pay attention to the game, play tight, and pick your spots carefully.

2. Don’t Chase After Fourth Street

After the fourth street, also known as the fourth card dealt, avoid chasing hands that are unlikely to improve. Chasing can lead to unnecessary losses, as the odds of improving your hand drastically decreases after this point.

3. Understand the Unique Rules

Razz Poker has a slightly different ruleset to most other mainstream poker variants. Aside from being a lowball variant where the lowest hand wins rather than the highest, several other rules set it apart from most other forms of poker. Straights and flushes don't generally count, aces are always low and the player with the lowest exposed hand always leads the play. So before you sit down to play Razz Poker, make sure you read the rules first and understand exactly how to play - it's in your best interest and might just save you from making an embarrassing and possibly costly mistake.

4. Pay Attention to Community Cards

Keep a close eye on all the exposed cards, not just your own hole cards. Every up card is a valuable source of information that shouldn't be ignored. These community cards provide valuable information about your opponents' hands and can help you make informed decisions. Keep track of every card on the table, it will help you make the best possible decisions with all the available information.

5. Fold Hands With a Pair or Higher

As a rule, fold your cards if you are dealt a pair of eights or higher at the start of the game. In standard poker, a pair is a gateway to high ranked hands like two pair, three of a kind, a full house and four of a kind. These hands will lose you chips in Razz. It's not impossible to win with a high pair, but it does make it significantly harder most of the time.

Razz poker is often played as a fixed-limit betting game, where players ante up and bring in bets on each street, from third to seventh. Understanding the betting structure and how to manage your bets is essential for success in Razz games.

Razz Poker Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

What is Razz Poker?
Razz poker, also known as seven-card Razz, is a lowball variant where the objective is to form the lowest possible five-card hand. It's one of the oldest forms of poker, making a resurgence in popularity due to mixed games like H.O.R.S.E.

How to play Razz Poker
Playing Razz involves tight and aggressive gameplay, strategic folding, and understanding its unique ruleset. This includes knowing that straights and flushes don't count, aces are always low, and the lowest exposed hand leads the play.

What is the best hand in Razz Poker?
In Razz, the best hand is the lowest hand. Since straights and flushes don't count, the best possible hand is A-2-3-4-5, also known as the "wheel" or the "bicycle."

How to deal Razz Poker
Dealing Razz follows the same principles as other seven-card stud variants. Each player is dealt two hole cards and one up card (also known as third street), followed by further rounds of betting and additional up cards (fourth through seventh street), with a final round of betting on seventh street.

How is Razz different from other poker variants?
Razz differs from other poker variants in several ways, including its focus on forming the lowest hand, the absence of straights and flushes, and the unique rules regarding betting and leading the play based on the lowest exposed hand.

Are flushes and straights counted in Razz?
No, flushes and straights do not count in Razz. The game is all about forming the lowest possible hand, and traditional poker hands like flushes and straights are irrelevant.

How is betting structured in Razz Poker?
Razz poker is typically played as a fixed-limit betting game, where players ante up and bring in bets on each street, from third to seventh. This structured betting ensures a balanced and controlled gameplay experience.

When should I fold in Razz Poker?
Knowing when to fold in Razz is crucial. Generally, it's advisable to fold hands that have little potential to improve after the fourth or fifth card is dealt, especially if they are high-ranking hands like pairs or better.

How does seventh street work in Razz Poker?
Seventh street in Razz is the final round of betting. By this point, players have received seven cards, and the lowest hand showing leads the play. The final bets are placed, and players reveal their hands to determine the winner based on the lowest hand.