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Razz Poker

Razz Poker Rules and Strategy
by K. Swope of

Razz Poker is structured in 7-card Stud format. A small ante is placed by all players to create an opening pot. Each player in the hand is then dealt three cards. Two of the cards are dealt face down, called hole cards. One card is dealt face up and often referred to as "3rd Street". The player with the worst "3rd Street" card must make a "bring-in" bet, or a forced bet. This "bring-in" bet is normally 1/3 of the standard small bet (e.g. playing a 3/6 limit game the bring-in would be one dollar). Players may choose to call the bring in bet or raise the bet to the full amount. The fourth card is dealt to the remaining players with the best showing hand opening the round of bets. The fifth and sixth cards are received face up and one final hole card is dealt with betting allowed after each. The best five cards win the pot.

Where Razz differs from other Stud games are the winning combinations of hands. Razz consists of the lowest possible hand winning the pot. The hands are read by starting with the highest card in the five card sequence and counting down. Aces are considered the smallest card or valued at 1 in a sequence such as 5,4,3,2,1. This five high hand is the best possible "made" hand in Razz. The King, subsequently, is the highest and least valuable card in the deck.

Making a straight or a flush is not considered a made hand in Razz and holds no value. However, single pairs, two pair, and trips are all considered when counting a five card hand. Hands that must play a pair or higher are of poor value and will lose to any combination of cards without a pair.

So, for example two hands in a showdown will be read as follows:

Hand A (J, 2, 7, 6, 4, Q, 3) verses Hand B (K, 5, 7, A, 4, 3, 5).
Hand A reads: 7, 6, 4, 3, 2
Hand B reads: 7, 5, 4, 3, A

Each hand has a 7 high so the next card is then considered in the sequence. Hand A plays the 6, and hand B has the 5. Hand B will win the pot since this player's next card is lower.

Very Basic Strategy

Razz can be a very simple game since the possibility of making a winning hand is much higher. However, the same will be true of the chances your opponent has to make a winning hand as well.

Start with quality hands. Only open or raise with hands that have three cards consisting of 8-high and lower. This leaves little or no room for chasing that seventh card to make a hand.

Read each players "up" cards carefully. Every player must use, at the minimum, two out of the four cards showing. Remembering this simple factor can give invaluable input into where your opponents stand in strength. Keep in mind that any pairs, even though small, like deuces or Aces can hurt you or your opponents.

Finally, do not be afraid of using that four letter "F" word. Learning to "fold" instead of attempting to squeeze out a hand will always prove to be more profitable over a longer period of time. Folding is a move in poker like any other that must be practiced and mastered in order to become a more polished player. Take satisfaction in making the right choice by laying down a hand. A chip saved is a chip earned.


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