Razz is a Seven Card Stud variation played only for low stakes as a poker game in which the best ace to five low poker hand wins at showdown. It is one of the oldest variants of poker, having been played since the beginning of the twentieth century. It first appeared around the time when people began playing poker with a 52-card deck rather of a 20-card deck. In Razz, each player is dealt seven cards throughout the game, but only the best five-card low hand possible for each player is used to determine the winner.
How to Play Razz
Razz ranks low hands using the ace to five or California method; straights and flushes do not count against a hand, and aces are always low. As a result, the best possible hand is a wheel, 5-4-3-2-A.
Before the game of razz starts, all players ante a nominal amount, which varies depending on the game. This is the cost of being dealt a hand.
Each player is dealt three cards at the beginning, two hidden hole cards and one face up. In razz, the bring-in is the player with the highest revealed card, and he or she is forced to start the action. They must make another nominal bet, the exact size of which depends on the game, or place a full bet in the lower betting increment. The action proceeds clockwise around the poker table until the round's betting is finished.
In every betting round, the possible actions are fold, check, bet, call, or raise; which options are available depends on the previous players' actions. Every poker player has the option to fold in order to discard their cards and give up their bet in the pot. If no one has yet bet, a player may check, decline to bet but keep their cards, or bet. If a player has already bet, subsequent players may fold, call, or raise. To call is to match the previous player's bet, and to raise it is to not only match but also increase the previous bet. Limit games have predetermined amounts for bets and raises.
Each player is now dealt another revealed card called Fourth Street. The player with the strongest or lowest revealed hand is the first to act. According to the rules, this player may either check or bet, with a small bet of $1 in a one-to-two game. Then there's a round of betting, followed by Fifth Street.
The player with the lowest revealed card is the first person to act. The player has the option of checking or betting. A round of betting begins on Fifth Street and continues through the rest of the hand. All bets and raises are in big bet increments.
Players are now dealt another exposed card known as sixth street. Again, the player whose exposed cards are the lowest is the first to act. There's a round of betting, and the river is either Seventh Street or the river.
Each player is now dealt a seventh and final card, which is handed face down and known only to the player to whom it is dealt. As with previous streets, the player whose revealed cards have the lowest poker value is the first to act. There is a last round of betting, and if more than one person remains, we go to the showdown.
If there is more than one player left after the last betting round, the last better or raiser shows his or her cards first. If no bets were placed on the last round, the player in the first seat shows his or her cards. Seat one, then two, then three, and so on. Their hands, whose are involved in the showdown, are revealed clockwise around the table.
Winning the Pot
The pot is won by the player with the best five-card ace-to-five low hand. Remember that, in contrary to Seven Card Stud HiLo and Omaha HiLo, there is no qualifier. The player with the best low hand wins the whole pot. A new game of Razz is ready to begin after the pot is awarded to the best low hand. If two or more hands have the same value, the pot is split evenly between them. For the purpose of awarding the pot, there is no precedence of suit.
Running out of Cards
It is possible that the dealer may run out of cards before the hand is through. This may happen if there are still eight players in the hand after the seventh cards are dealt. Seven cards for eight players would need a deck of 56 cards. The hand would be four cards short since Razz uses a standard 52-card deck.
To address the problem, the dealer does not deal a seventh card to any of the players. Instead, the dealer places one last card face up in the middle of the table, which serves as the community card. This card may be used as the seventh card in the hands of any of the eight players.
Razz Hand Rankings
Razz follows Ace to Five hand rankings. Straights and flushes don't count, and aces are always low. Even if the cards are all of the same suit, the best hand is 5-4-3-2-A. Following that are 6-4-3-2-A, 6-5-3-2-A, 6-5-4-2-A, 6-5-4-3-A, 6-5-4-3-2, 7-4-3-2-A, and so on. When comparing hands, the highest card is compared first, just like in standard poker. For example, 6-5-4-3-2 is better than 7-4-3-2-A since the 6 is lower than the 7. A-A-4-3-2 is the best pair-containing hand. This version is also known as "California Lowball."