Like many other poker games, the game of Razz is one that draws a lot of its gameplay and rules from the game of 7 Card Stud. In truth, Razz is a newer game and is only really beginning to become popular, but before long it is estimated that Razz will be one of the top poker variants that exists. In many ways, this game is no different than other poker games, but in one very crucial way it is entirely different. The biggest difference separating Razz from any other poker variant is the fact that the winner of a hand will be the person who has the lowest hand, not the highest-ranking one.
Razz is also very different from other forms of poker because players are dealt 7 cards apiece, which is far more than most other versions of the game. This new and exciting way to play poker is just beginning to make a name for itself and is a fun spin-off on versions of the game we know and love.
Like so many other casino games, the game of Razz was created as nothing more than a variation of a poker game that everyone knew and loved. Though it is not written in stone the exact date and time that Razz was conceived, the popular date to go by is 1971 because that is the first time it made an appearance as a WSOP (World Series of Poker) event.
Though it still remained mostly obscure, the game of Razz remained a staple of the annual WSOP and transitioned into an online game just like every other poker variant. At first, online casinos very much overlooked the game of Razz, but now you would be hard-pressed to find a single online casino that offers poker games but not Razz. People who are looking for variation have long-flocked to this game, and that is something that will not likely change anytime soon.
How to Play Razz Poker
When we said above that Razz only differs from traditional forms of poker in a few ways, we were really telling a lie. The reality is that most facets of the game are tweaked in such a way that they are slightly different from games like Hold’em and 7 Card Stud. The game is begun by all players offering up what is called an ante (a forced bet). While other games only force two people (big blind and small blind) to bet prior to any action, the ante in Razz makes everyone place a wager before ever being dealt any cards.
After the antes have been settled, every active player will be dealt 3 cards, 2 facing down and 1 that is face-up for everyone to see. The person who is displaying the highest-ranking face-up card will be determined to be the “bring-in.” To make it simplistic, the bring-in is nothing more than the person who begins the betting action.
The betting action that is executed is determined by the size of the game. For example, if the game of Razz is a $10/$20 game the bring-in bet must be no less than $10. Once the bring-in has acted, every other player will be dealt a 4th hole card, face-up.
Once everyone has been dealt a 4th card, the game is switched to an extent. Now, the player with the lowest-ranking exposed card will begin the betting action. As it was in the previous round, any betting action will be done in terms of the low amount; keeping with the above example, this would be $10. After betting has been settled in this round, every player will receive a 5th card that is also dealt face-up. Betting will begin in the same exact fashion as the previous round, with the person displaying the strongest low hand. This means that if two players are sitting across from each other before betting, and one has a hand consisting of K 6 and the other has a hand consisting of 4 5, the second person would be the first to act. The biggest difference in this round is that any betting or raising action must be done in increments of the higher amount. Continuing the example above, this would be $20.
A fourth face-up card is dealt prior to the beginning of the next round of action, and just as it was in the previous two rounds, the person with the lowest-ranking, or strongest, hand will be the first to act. Once again, all betting and raising action must be done in increments of the larger value.
The final round of Razz begins in much the same fashion as the previous few, only now the card that is dealt to each player will be dealt face-down so that only the person to whom it was given will know its rank. At this juncture final bets will be made and the showdown ensues. The winner of a game of Razz will be the person who, with their 7 cards, creates the strongest (lowest-ranking) 5 card hand.
Other Miscellaneous Rules of Razz
Razz is a fairly straightforward game, but there are certain scenarios in which the game can leave one lost or confused. The first of these situations is in the case of two people having a bring-in card of the same rank. In the case that both people show the same card, the bring-in will be determined by the suit of the card being shown. Suits, ranked strongest to weakest, are as follows: spades, hearts, diamonds, and clubs. This means that if one player boasts a Q♠ and another a Q♥, the person with the Q♥ will be determined to be the bring-in.
Like most other poker games, Razz allows for up to 8 active players at the table. Because of this, there are times when the 7th and final card is set to be dealt, but there aren’t enough cards to give 1 to every active player. If this happens, a single card will be laid towards the center of the table face-up and will serve as a community card for everyone to utilize.
Finally, if a player’s ante forces them all-in, the bring-in action will be passed to the next active player sitting to the left of the person whose ante forced them all-in.