Razz Poker is played in the same fashion as 7 Card Stud Poker. Like 7 Card Stud, Razz accommodates up to eight players. The difference between the two poker variations is that while in 7 Card Stud, the highest ranking hand wins, in Razz Poker, the lowest ranking hand wins the pot. Therefore, the object of the game is to make the lowest five-card hand using any of the seven cards that are dealt to each player throughout the game.
A game of Razz Poker begins with an ante from every player to the pot. Each player is initially dealt a three-card hand, the first two cards face down, and the third face up. This showing card is called the “door card.” Players have a chance to evaluate their hands and then the action begins. The lowest showing door card on the table is responsible for the “bring-in,” which gets the action started and is a portion of the whole bet limit. Betting goes clockwise around the table until each player has had a chance to act. This round is called 3rd street.
The following round is referred to as 4th street. This round starts off with the dealer burning a card and then dealing each player one card face up. Then betting begins, but differently than in the 3rd street round in Razz Poker. Fourth street and all subsequent rounds, begin the betting action with the player showing the highest combination this time instead of the lowest. The next two rounds, 5th street and 6th street, are carried out in the same manner as 4th street until four cards have been dealt face up to each player still in the hand.
The structure changes again in the final round of Razz, also known as 7th street. The dealer burns a card, and each player is dealt his last card, face down as opposed to face up. A final round of betting takes place. After betting is complete, the players show their hands (or muck if they accept defeat), beginning with the player who bet last. The lowest ranked five-card hand wins.
To determine low ranking Razz hand, keep a few things in mind. Straights and flushes will not damage a low-ranking hand. Also, Aces always count low, so the lowest hand possible in Razz poker is A/2/3/4/5, or the “wheel” or “bike.” This is the best winning hand a Razz poker player can hold (the nuts). By the way, any hand can be a winning Razz poker hand, even low pairs, but you will rarely win Razz poker with a hand that includes a pair.
One rule of thumb is that you should value your hand based on your opponents’ showing cards. Remember that a decent starting hand will often contains at least one Ace or two unpaired cards that have face values of five or less. Razz Poker is quick and easy without the double entendre of 7-Card Stud Eights or Better. It represents a less complex version of poker than other games.