Razz poker: rules, starting hands and optimal strategy

The so-called "razz poker" is a variant of 7 Card Stud, a modality in which each player receives seven cards and aims to form the lowest hand of all. It is a type of game in which fixed stakes predominate, and is integrated, like Seven Card Stud, in the mixed game known as HORSE.

Razz poker: what is it?



Erroneously used as a synonym for 7 Card Stud, razz poker is actually a sub-variant of it. As part of HORSE, which combines Hold'em, Omaha Hi-LO, Razz, Seven Card Stud and Eight or Better, many of its rules are borrowed from other variants, encouraging mixed play, and being one of the most valued poker variants by WSOP professional players.

Unlike other types of poker, in this variant of 7 Card Stud you win by forming the lowest hand, being the "wheel" or "wheel" (A 2 3 4 5, , of any suit) the best combination to achieve it.

Razz poker: basic rules for learning to play

In essence, razz poker has identical rules to 7 Card Stud: all players, with a maximum limit of eight per game, place a mandatory bet. This is called the "ante".

After this bet, the dealer deals two-hole cards and one face-up card to each player. The player who has the highest face card has to pay a mandatory bet. This is called "bring in". After paying in, the players talk clockwise. The moves are the same for everyone: call, raise and fold.

After the end of the round, the dealer deals another open card. This is known as fourth street. Here, the player with the lowest hand of the two that are visible is the one who initiates the bet if it suits him, or folds, if that is what he wants.

The process is repeated for the fifth and sixth streets, after which a final covered card is dealt. When the last bet is paid, the showdown takes place.

So, to be clear:

·         The bring in is made by the highest face card, not as in 7 Card Stud, which is made by the lowest face card.

·         The player with the best lowest tied hand wins. In 7 Card Stud, the mechanics are the same, but the highest value tied hand wins.

Razz poker: starting hands up to 5 and up to 8


  • In 5-max games, the best hand in razz poker is A 2 3. . However, any three-card combination whose value is less than 5 can be considered very good.
  • In 8-max games, any combination with three cards less than 7 is taken as a great starting hand.

To know how to play your hands, you need to concentrate your efforts and ask yourself how your game is going to develop. Are you playing against one player or against two? For example, a hand with three cards in a bracket from ace to 8 may work against one player, but not against two, especially if they appear to have better hands.

An important fact: the higher the card that the villain discovers on third street, the more likely it is that his play will be perfect on his hole cards. If you sense that the villain's game hides a wheel, you should fold.

Razz poker: strategies with good and average cards

To know how to play razz poker, you have to understand that it is a dead card game. This means that it is a game in which the odds are dynamic, not static, as in Texas Hold'em, for example. This forces players to constantly recalculate the odds, removing uncovered cards and adapting the readings at every moment.

So: you have to keep in your memory the cards that are revealed, from the ace to the 9, in order to recalculate the probabilities of your play and that of the other players. This will give you valuable information to improve your decision making.

With a good starting hand

Now then: if you see from the beginning that your starting hand is good, you should play fast, bet-raise type, especially in the early rounds. In this way, you will be able to expel some of the players and increase the pot. A round play.

Once in the first streets you have played fast, transform your game and turn it into a very, very light slow play. Really light. The slow play, in general, is not valid as a style of play in razz poker games, but that does not mean that you cannot play with the rhythms and slow it down when you have passed the initial bet-raise phase. When the numbers do nothing but favor you, you don't have to play fast: the game is already yours.

With an average starting hand

With average cards, it is best that any forecast or strategy is designed with a maximum of 5 streets. What happens after that will be pure uncertainty, so don't go beyond that, for now.

To see a bet on fifth street, we should have the best play with one card left to complete. If more cards are missing, we can forget about it, because there will be no outs left to save our hand. It is very common in razz poker to continue playing despite being KO'd, and not realize it until we have not hit the showdown.

In razz poker it is very important to know when you can't go any further. If you are finished, get out of the way. Staying in the pot is very expensive, and good players have even suffered important losses by staying in the pot when they were already beaten. If you have been interested in this article, you cannot miss all the information we have collected in the post dedicated to 7 Card Stud Hi-Lo: rules and game with premium cards.

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