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Razz Poker Rules

Razz Poker Rules

Razz Poker, a unique and challenging variant of the popular card game, stands out in the world of poker for its distinct approach to hand rankings and gameplay. This American casino guide delves into the intricacies of Razz Poker, aiming to equip both beginners and seasoned players with the knowledge and strategies needed to excel at this captivating game. With its roots tracing back to the early 20th century, Razz Poker has steadily gained popularity, particularly among players who seek a twist on traditional poker formats. Unlike the more widespread Texas Hold’em or Omaha, Razz Poker flips the script by rewarding the lowest hand, offering a refreshing challenge to poker enthusiasts.

Basic Rules and Gameplay

In Razz Poker, the primary goal is to create the lowest possible five-card hand from the seven cards dealt to each player. The game typically involves a maximum of eight players and uses a standard 52-card deck.

Dealing and Betting Rounds

Razz Poker starts with each player receiving two hole cards (face down) and one door card (face up). The player with the highest door card initiates the betting with a ‘bring-in’, or a full bet. The game proceeds through four more rounds of dealing and betting:

Fourth Street: Each player receives another face-up card. The player with the lowest face-up cards leads the betting.
Fifth Street: A third face-up card is dealt, followed by a round of betting, again led by the player with the lowest visible hand.
Sixth Street: The process repeats with a fourth face-up card.
Seventh Street (River): The final card is dealt face down. The last round of betting ensues.

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Hand Rankings

The most critical aspect of Razz Poker is understanding hand rankings. The best possible hand is a wheel: A-2-3-4-5, irrespective of suits. Flushes and straights are ignored in Razz Poker, making ‘5 high’ the strongest hand, and pairs count against the player, making them undesirable.

Winning the Pot

After the final betting round, if more than one player remains, a showdown occurs. Players reveal their hands, and the one with the lowest five-card combination wins the pot. In Razz Poker, it’s crucial to remember that while the aim is to have the lowest hand, the traditional strengths of cards in poker still apply. For example, an Ace is always low, making it a valuable card in Razz Poker.

Terminology and Jargon

Understanding the specific terminology and jargon used in Razz Poker is crucial for any player. Here are some key terms:

Bring-In: The mandatory bet made by the player with the highest door card on the first round of betting.
Door Card: The first face-up card dealt to each player.
Fourth Street: The second face-up card dealt.
Fifth Street: The third face-up card dealt.
Sixth Street: The fourth face-up card dealt.
Seventh Street (River): The final and seventh card dealt, face down.
Wheel: The best possible hand (A-2-3-4-5) in Razz Poker.
Upcard: Any card that is dealt face-up.
Downcards: Cards that are dealt face down.

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Strategies and Tips for Beginners

As a beginner in Razz Poker, mastering certain strategies and tips can significantly enhance your gameplay. Here’s a detailed look at some key tactics:

Understanding Starting Hands: It’s vital to recognize good starting hands in Razz Poker. Ideally, your first three cards should be between an Ace and a 5. Avoid starting with cards higher than 8.
Observing Opponents’ Cards: Pay close attention to the face-up cards of your opponents. This will help you assess the strength of their hands and adjust your strategy accordingly.
Avoiding Pairs: Since pairs can weaken your hand in Razz Poker, try to avoid them, especially high pairs. If you’re dealt a pair, consider folding, unless you have a strong draw.
Playing Aggressively with Strong Hands: If you have a strong low hand, don’t hesitate to bet or raise. This can help you win more chips and intimidate opponents with weaker hands.
Knowing When to Fold: One of the key skills in Razz Poker is knowing when to fold. If your hand isn’t shaping up well, and others seem to have lower cards, it’s often wise to fold early.
Managing Bankroll: For beginners, it’s crucial to manage your bankroll carefully. Start with lower stakes games to minimize potential losses as you learn.

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Advanced Strategies

For the seasoned Razz Poker player, implementing advanced strategies can provide a competitive edge:

Bluffing Techniques: Skilled bluffing can turn a weak hand into a winner. If your face-up cards are strong, but your hole cards are weak, you can bluff by betting aggressively to convince opponents you have a better hand.
Reading Opponents’ Tells: Pay attention to patterns in your opponents’ play. Are they aggressive with certain cards? Do they fold easily? Understanding these tendencies can give you an insight into their hands.
Stealing the Antes: If you have the lowest face-up card on Third Street, consider raising to ‘steal the antes’, especially if other players show weakness with higher face-up cards.
Strategic Hand Development: From Fourth Street onwards, carefully choose whether to continue building your hand or fold, based on the cards you and your opponents receive.
Late Game Strategy: In later rounds, your strategy should depend on the visible cards. Adjust your play based on what you think your opponents might hold.
Leveraging Position: Your betting position can greatly influence your strategy. Being in a late position allows you to make more informed decisions based on the actions of your opponents.


Razz Poker, with its distinctive approach and strategic depth, offers a unique variant in the world of poker. Whether you’re a beginner learning the ropes or an experienced player honing your skills, Razz Poker challenges and entertains in equal measure. Remember, the key to success lies in understanding the nuances of the game, from reading opponents to managing your bankroll. As you step into the world of Razz Poker, whether in a casino or online, keep these strategies and tips in mind, and most importantly, enjoy the game responsibly.

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Razz Poker FAQs

What is the best starting hand in Razz Poker?

The best starting hand is A-2-3, as it gives you a strong foundation for building the lowest possible hand.

Can straights or flushes affect your Razz Poker hand?

No, straights and flushes do not count against you in Razz Poker. The focus is solely on having the lowest hand.

Is bluffing important in Razz Poker?

Yes, bluffing can be a useful tool, especially when your face-up cards suggest a stronger hand than you actually have.

How does Razz Poker differ from other poker games?

The main difference is that the lowest hand wins in Razz Poker, as opposed to the highest in most other poker variants.

Are there any specific tips for playing Razz Poker online?

Familiarize yourself with the online platform's interface, practice responsible gaming, and pay attention to betting patterns and speed of play as potential tells.