Razz is a lowball stud-based poker game, where the ‘worst’ hand wins at showdown.

The game is usually played either as A-5 or less frequently 2-7. In the A-5 variant, aces play low and straights and flushes do not count against a low hand, meaning the best possible razz hand (the ‘wheel’) is A-2-3-4-5. In the 2-7 variant aces play high and flushes and straights are counted as high hands, so the best possible 2-7 Razz hand is 2-3-4-5-7.

A simple way to determine the winner between two competing hands is to count backwards starting with the higher ranked card. The hand which then makes the lower 5 digit number is the better hand. For example 2-4-5-6-8 would beat A-3-5-7-8 because 87531 is a higher number than 86542.

It is one of the more popular forms of stud poker and features in the well known mixed poker game rotation H.O.R.S.E.

Playing a Razz Hand

As is common for stud games, each player dealt into the hand pays a small amount known as the ‘ante’ into the pot. All players are then dealt three cards (one at a time), two face down and the final card face up. This round of play is known as Third Street. The player with the highest rank up-card or ‘door card’ is forced to pay the ‘bring-in’ which is typically a small multiple of the ante.

The player on the bring-in then has the option to pay the bring-in alone or complete his bet to the size of a full ‘small bet’. The action then proceeds around the table in a clockwise direction with each player having the option to call the amount of the small bet, raise to double the small bet or fold, giving up on the hand. Because Razz is usually played as a fixed limit game, all bets and raises must be in increments of the betting limit. Furthermore the action is usually capped after one bet and three raises on any one betting round.

After the first round of betting, we move onto Fourth Street, where each player remaining in the hand is dealt another card face up and there is another round of betting. This betting round starts on the player with the best two-card Razz hand. This player may check, passing the action to the next player or bet. Action continues around the table until all players remaining in the hand have acted. If there are players remaining in the hand, we move onto Fifth Street. If a player has made a bet or raise that went un-called, he wins the pot as is the case on all betting rounds.

On Fifth Street all players receive another card face up and there is another betting round, much the same as on Fourth Street. The only difference is that on Fifth Street, the betting limit changes to the ‘big bet’, an amount that is typically double that of the small bet. The big bet amount applies for all further streets.

Sixth Street sees another face up card dealt to all players and another betting round before we move onto the final hand of the round, Seventh Street. On Seventh, all players remaining in the hand are dealt a final card, but on this occasion it is face down. After all players have received their cards, the betting action begins on the person who has the lowest Razz hand showing. After the betting round is complete and the final bet has been called, or all players check, those remaining must show down their hands in order to claim the pot, starting with the final aggressor (or the player closest to the dealer in a clockwise direction is Seventh was checked around). The player with the best 5-card Razz hand out of the 7 cards available to them to make their hand wins the pot.