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Poker 101: How to Play Razz

Razz is without a doubt the most frustrating and infuriating poker games to play. There’s a popular joke that says you take a year off your life every time you play the game.

Razz is rarely played in cardrooms, but it makes an appearance as one of the 5 games of HORSE.

What is razz?

Razz is a 7-card stud game where you are initially dealt 2 face-down cards and one face-up. There is then one round of betting for each following card dealt. The final, and seventh, card is dealt face down before a final round of betting. It is most commonly played as a fixed-stakes game.

How do you make the best razz hand?

The aim of razz is to form a hand of the 5 lowest possible cards. Any made flushes or straights are not counted.

The best 5-card hand is A 2 3 4 5, known as a ‘wheel’.

What is a basic razz strategy?

To be successful at razz you need to give yourself the best chance of making the best hand. You never have a completed hand until 5th street.

A tight player will only enter the hand with 3 cards below 8 (un-paired). This means that the player only needs 2 more low cards to make a hand.

Many players will chase cards, so when you know you currently hold the best hand, you must bet.

Can you bluff in razz?

Bluffing is common in razz. You need to play on the fact that your opponents can see 4 of your 7 cards. For example, you may have a board showing A 2 3 4. Any opponent will be terrified of this board, as you only need a single card of your remaining 3 to make a strong or unbeatable hand.

In this example, you might have K K Q as your remaining 3 cards giving you a terrible hand, or you may even have 3 pairs! You must still bet, as it’s very likely your opponent will fold. Occasionally you may be called, but overall it will be very profitable.

If you get raised in this situation, be very wary. You are beat more than 99% of the time, so don’t get cute and just get out.

How do I extract value from razz hands?

When you are ahead you should bet, when you are behind, you should fold or call. It’s a very simple but effective strategy. You only want to get money in the middle when you are ahead.

If you currently have the better hand (from the information you have on your opponents hands) you must always bet. They haven’t made a good hand, so you are forcing them to chase the cards. Yes, they might hit, but as long as you’re money is going into the middle with the best hand at the time, the profit will come easily.

Why do people hate playing razz?

Razz is a mentally tough game. Time after time, you may start with 3 or 4 great cards, only to hit face cards or pair up. The most common demographic of razz players, are seniors over 50. They probably look a lot older than they are too!

Is razz a profitable game?

Yes, it can be. There aren’t many players out there who specialize in razz. It takes a lot of mental strength, and many players might get bored or frustrated. This is what you need to capitalize on.

Even if you aren’t planning on playing much razz, it’s worth learning the game to have an extra skill when it comes to mixed games. The most popular mixed game, HORSE, includes razz. If you are proficient at razz, it creates another avenue for you to take your opponents chips.