Razz is a game that is the opposite of 7 card stud. In Razz the idea is the make the lowest hand that you can possible make. Play starts with everyone putting in their ante, the cards are then dealt and the highest up card on third street has to bring in their bet. From this point on though, the LOWEST hand showing will bring in on every other card. When it gets to showdown, the lowest five card hand wins the pot, with aces counting as low and flushes and straights not counting. So the best hand you could possibly get is A-2-3-4-5. Hands are ranked by the highest card that one has, so if you have an 8, and your opponent has a 7; you would lose the hand. If the highest card is tied, you move to the next card, and so on. That is the basic idea behind Razz, now we’ll get into a little bit of strategy that can help make the game easier.
First off, you have to be patient in the game of Razz. Play tight, and pick your spots. Don’t get crazy and play every hand or else you will lose your money/chips very quickly. You can also pick some good spots to steal the antes as well, especially if you are in a tournament setting. It’s just like with other poker games, position is everything. If you are the last player to act and everyone else has folded, take a shot at stealing the antes.
Starting Hands in Razz
Figuring out the types of starting hands to play with is fairly easy honestly. If you have three cards between Ace and five that aren’t paired, that’s an excellent starting hand. Anything up to a high card 7 is good enough to start with, but between a high card 3 and high card 5 you would want to raise, high card 6 and 7 you would want to call, and a high card 8 is a good chance to steal the antes or play if there is no raise potentially.
It is always important to watch the other players up cards as well. Remember that a deck only has 52 cards in it, and you are getting free information by getting to see the other players’ cards. Especially right after the deal, and if you get to heads up or in a hand with three players. If you are betting with a player who has a 6 showing, and gets a king and a jack over their next two cards, you should continue betting at them almost regardless (unless you have something worse showing). On the other side of it though, if the person you are betting at is showing a 6, and their next two cards are a 2 and 3, you should probably consider backing off a bit unless you have an incredibly strong hand.
One other thing to watch for when playing, is the cards that you have compared to the other players due to avoiding pairing your hand. If you have an Ace, 3, 4 in your hand, and there is two aces, two threes, and a four out there across the table; you should feel even more confident in your hand because it’s more likely that you will avoid pairing your hand.
Knowing When To Fold in Razz
Just like in any other type of poker, you have to know when to let your hand go. Forcing the action will just cause you to lose more money, and put you in tough positions later in the hand. If you start playing sub par hands or you continue betting constantly against strong boards of opponents, you are going to lose a lot of money or a lot of chips quickly. Just like in 7 card stud, if the other players board could put you in a position to be behind, there’s a pretty good chance that you are behind.
Stealing Antes in Razz
Or potential “free money” as we like to call it. Not always though, but stealing the antes in Razz is very important, especially at the high stakes games. As previously mentioned, if the bring in player is sitting directly to the left of you and it folds to you, you should always complete the bet to steal the bring in and the antes. Another opportunity to steal the antes is when you have the lowest card showing on the table, and your opponents third street cards are weak. So if you have an Ace showing and your opponents cards are all above 7, I’d be taking a shot to steal the antes and bring in here. But remember, don’t get too crazy with your stealing attempts; especially if you have a player at your table who has made a habit of playing a wide range of hands, and your starting hand is paired or your two under cards are high cards.