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Introduction to Playing Razz Poker

Razz Poker Tips for Beginners

Razz Poker, also referred to as 7 Card Stud low may not be as popular as Texas Holdem or a few of the other variations but it has widely available on a number of online poker sites. One of the most notable difference between Razz and all of the other poker games available for play, is that player do not need the best hand to win. In fact Razz awards the worst hand making it one of the more interesting and games to play and in the same breath it can be equally frustrating.  Below we’ve summarized some of the basic concepts used in Razz along with some winning strategies. If you’ve never played a game of Razz before we do suggest you check our Razz poker guide for a complete play by play on game structure and hand rankings.

Razz Poker Rules 101

Razz is plays in the same format as 7 Card Stud in that players will be required to ante first followed by receiving  door cards followed by upcards. The difference between the two variants is that the highest up card on 3rd street in razz is required to make the forced bring in bet for the game to begin. After the first round of betting, the lowest hand showing using upcards only will be the first to act. This will continue on all subsequent rounds. Another rule that differs between the two games of Stud poker is that players who pair their door cards will not have the double bet option. The lowest hand always wins the showdown.

Remember, Razz is about having the worst hand possible and in this game flushes and straights do not count towards hand ranking which means suits play no part in Razz. The highest ranked is of course A,2,3,4,5 representing the wheel. It’s not an overly difficult game to grasp. In fact, determining who has the best hand is fairly simple. Start with the top card showing and work your way through the hands. So let’s assume we have two players with hands consisting of 10,7,4,3,2 and 9,8,6,5,4. Since 9 is lower than 10 we’ll consider that the lowest winning hand. To take it one step further let’s assume both players have the same high card. To figure out which hand ranks we’ll move to the second lowest card.

Razz Tips for Beginners

Before you sit down to your first game you have to understand that Razz is a very patient game. You need to be able to wait out hands. The game is nowhere near as fast paced as Texas Holdem or Omaha and you will defiantly need to keep your starting hands tight and pay attention to details at the table such as position, upcards and your opponents. Once you’ve had a few games under your belt it’s a good idea to pick up some of the basic skills needed to beat this game.
Starting hands are essential in Razz as it is in any form of poker. Here’s the catch. Unlike Holdem where everyone wants premium hands we actually want the losers. Those K’s and Q’s have no place in a game of Razz and are no brainers when it comes to starting hand requirements. What you do want though is hands consisting of A through 5. At least three of your cards should fall in this range. Obviously A23 would be the absolute best starting hand but when playing against three or less opponents three cards from A through six could be optimal if played with a bit of aggression and in position. You’ll defiantly want to isolate your opponents and push a few off from seeing any other streets. Anything above this is considered marginal and should be played with caution.

Watch Your Table, Live Cards and Dead Cards – Paying attention to the table is absolutely critical in any form of stud poker. By taking a mental note of the upcards at the table along with keeping tabs on dead cards you’ll be able to have a pretty good understanding of where you fall in line in relation to the players at the table. Think of it this way, if you’re holding three cards to a six and the lowest up card on the table is a ten it’s pretty easy to see what you should be doing next. On the other hand if you’re holding three cards to an eight and the up cards of two others players are lower than yours you need to play with caution.  We mentioned dead cards. Live and dead cards are extremely important in stud poker. In Razz you never want to pair your cards. Obviously your hand weakens greatly when paired and by seeing other up cards that match yours you’re given an edge.

Folding Weak Hands – Drawing to weak hands or playing with mediocre starting hands wastes chips in any form of poker regardless of whether its Stud, Draw or Holdem. If you’re up against a strong board and you know your hand is subpar at best just fold and save your blinds for another round. There’s no point in chasing those draws especially when you know they have you beat. This is where patience comes into play. Push your strong hand and fold the weak ones. Remember, a blind saved is as equally important as pots won.

Stealing the Antes - Stealing antes is very important in Razz. It may not be possible in low limit games where your opponents will play their draws. In low limit games you pretty much know when someone has a made hand. Once you move up limits it become a bit more difficult. Players don’t often like to waste bets on weak starting hands, nor will they chase a three card to a nine. Starting hands tighten up drastically. These are the games where you can steal a few antes which help make up for future rounds. There are a few situations where stealing antes is fairly common ground. Position is an asset. If the hand is folded to you and your upcard is lower than the person with the forced bring in, you can usually steal the antes with a single bet. Most players won’t risk their chips when its heads up and they have the higher upcard.