Razz is a game that is very similar in the way that it is played to Seven Card Stud. The difference is, instead of playing to make the best hand that you can; in Razz you are trying to make the lowest hand possible. Basically, you want to get the lowest five cards possible out of the seven that you’re dealt. Razz is an ante based game, where each player antes in order to get cards. Every player is then dealt three cards (two face down and one face up for the table to see). The player with the highest card showing will then bring in, which is a forced bet. A round of betting then proceeds that. The betting style in Razz is typically limit, meaning that players can only bet the same size every time, with the bet doubling once the 5th card is dealt.
The fourth card, or “fourth street” is then dealt face up, as are streets five and six as well. Seventh street, the last card, is the dealt face down. There is a round of betting following each street after 3rd, all the way until all seven cards are dealt. At that point players will turn over their cards and the player with the lowest hand will win the pot.
The best hand you can get in Razz is A-2-3-4-5, because straights and flushes don’t count in this game. One thing to make sure that you remember while playing Razz though, is to watch the other cards that are showing in other players’ hands. This can give you a good idea of exactly what you have remaining in order to improve your hand. For example if you are holding a 3-4-6-9 after fourth street, and have seen multiple 3’s, 4’s, and 6’s folded, you have a good shot to improve your hand, because pairing won’t help you. But on the other hand, if you have seen multiple Ace’s, 2’s, and 5’s out, then you are probably in a pretty tough spot.
Razz is a game where bluffing doesn’t happen very often, but you need to pick spots in order to put out good bluffs. If your hand showing is strong (such as A-2-3 or A-2-4, etc), then you should continue to bet at your opponent, especially if they have high cards showing. Typically though, once a pot hits fifth street, the pot has gotten so large that you are going to be called down regardless due to your opponents pot odds; so at this point, I would back down.
Really, in Razz the worst thing that you can do is to start with a weak hand. If you are holding cards that are all above 8, it’s not worth trying to better your hand. In reality, if you have even two cards 8 or above, or even something like 7/8/9, it’s probably not worth playing the hand. You need to be very patient in Razz, and wait until you get a spot where you can be profitable calling down raises on each street after third street. Of course playing starting hands like A-2-3, A-3-4, A-3-5, etc., are all great spots to build your hand. If you have multiple other players involved in the hand with strong boards showing for most of them; continuing to chase after 4th street if you have two high cards or a pair, is probably not a smart play, unless your pair is something like A-A-2-3.
Razz can be one of the most fun, and profitable games if you know how to play tight, and pick your spots. The good thing about Razz, is that you can buy-in to a low limit game to start with, so that you can get a feel for the game before you move up to the higher limits.