Razz, a stud poker variant played in the low format, requires players to make the best five card hand from the seven dealt to them. The nut in this game is ace to five (5, 4, 3, 2, A). Flushes and straights are not considered against a hand, and aces are placed lowest. For instance, in the wheel (ace to five hand), the ace is counted at the end when ranking the cards. This is because when you rank an unpaired low hand in Razz, the cards are rated from the highest to the lowest and are named as such. For instance, a hand with 9, 8, 7, 6 and 5 make up a nine-low. Unlike in Seven Card Stud Hi/Lo (another stud variant), players don’t have to meet the standard 8 or better requirement.
Placing the ante in Razz Poker
Before the cards are dealt, all players have to place a forced bet, called the ante. This is usually a small amount decided by the poker room. Typically, it is calculated as a percentage of the small bet. By placing the ante, players pay to get dealt into the hand.
After all players place the ante, three cards are dealt to each. Of the cards, the first two are placed face-up (hole cards) and the third is face-down. As Razz is not a community card game like Texas Hold’em or Omaha, cards are dealt only to each player, not to the center of the table. All the face-up cards at the table are compared. The player with the highest ranking card makes the first bet at the table. This too is a forced bet, so the player doesn’t have the option to fold.
The bet he places is called the bring-in. It can be a nominal wager or a full one based on the lower table limit. After the bring-in is placed, action resumes clockwise. Players other than the one who wagered the bring-in, get to call, raise or fold. Once all players make their decisions, the game enters the next round called the fourth street.
4th and 5th Street
In this round, players are dealt the fourth card. It is placed face-up like the first two cards in the hand. The players’ fourth streets are compared, and the one who has the lowest ranking card acts first. He gets to bet or check. If he checks, he gets to stay in the hand without making a wager. If he bets, his opponents have to call, fold or raise. In the case where a player doesn’t bet, opponents can fold or make the first wager. Action follows the same pattern as on the third street. The game then moves on to the fifth street, where the dealing of cards and betting opportunities are the same as on the street preceding it. From the fifth street, the wagers and raises are made in increments of the upper table limit.
On the sixth street, the dealer places an upward facing card. The player with the lowest ranking card gets to act first. The game then reaches the seventh street, also called the river. The final card is dealt on the street. It is placed face-down before the players, so only they know what was dealt to them. The first player to act in this round is the one with the lowest ranking exposed card. This is followed by the last betting round.
If two or more players are still in the hand, the game enters showdown. At this stage, players have to compare their best five-card hand. The first player to show his hand is the one who made the last bet in the round preceding it. If no bet was made in the round, the player in early position has to reveal his hand. Others show their hands in a clockwise format. The player with the lowest ranking hand is the winner. In the case where more than one player gets the same hand, the pot is split among them.