‘Invention is the mother of necessity’
Someone said that years ago, and it is true in almost every facet in life.
Soccer got Futsal, cricket got T20 and poker can now talk about ‘Razz’.
This style of poker is a form of stud poker and is played for an ace to five low, which is also referred to as lowball poker.
The basic aim of Razz is to make the lowest five-card hand from the seven cards you are dealt.
Flushes don’t count against any player and the best hand that can be made by is 5-4-3-2-A.
This set or hand of cards are called a 5 high (although it is the lowest card combination possible).
It is also referred to as the ‘wheel’ or the’ bicycle’.
The popularity of the game has been on the rise for quite some time now.
This format of the game was featured in the World Series of Poker in since 1971.
The format has been played in every World Series of Poker event since then, apart from 1972.
Razz is also part of the mixed game rotation H.O.R.S.E., with the ‘R’ standing for Razz, of course.
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The game dynamics
The game style, as discussed is extremely similar to seven-card stud, the only difference being that the lowest hand wins.
The dealer shuffles a normal deck of cards and deals seven cards per player.
The five lowest cards from each player are used to form the hand.
The game begins with each player wanting to join the game making an ‘Ante’ bet.
This is a nominal amount, just to ensure that you can be a part of the game.
The next step involves three cards being given to each player.
Two cards are dealt face down while one card per player is dealt face up.
The player with the highest card value of the face up cards must make the first best.
This is called the ‘door card’ and the player is forced to start the action.
It could be possible that two players are dealt cards of the same value.
The player who would be making the first bet would then be decided by the suit of the cards.
The spade is the highest suit followed by hearts, diamond and clubs.
A player getting dealt the king of spades is guaranteed to make the first bet in Razz poker.
The fourth card dealt is another exposed card; the player who must act is the one with the lowest (best) set of exposed cards.
This is a round of betting and a player can either check or bet, which would be another nominal amount.
The fifth and sixth cards are also dealt face up.
The player who makes the move is always the one with the best set of exposed cards.
This is a round of betting and now all the bets increase in their amount.
The last card, the seventh card is dealt face down and is the final card for the player at the table.
The player who has the lowest cards has to act first and if any other players remain after this round of betting, it is time for the showdown!
The final showdown
In the last round, if there are two or more players, the showdown takes place.
The player who was the last person to be in the previous round exposes his best five cards (lowest cards).
He is followed by the next set of players. If no one bet in the previous round, then the exposure of the cards is dependent on the seating positions of the players.
Seat 1, seat 2 and so on, these should be determined before the start of the game, to avoid any confusion later on.
The player with the lowest hand of five cards wins the pot and another game of Razz can start.
If two players have the same value of five cards in their hands, then the pot is split.
In Razz poker, during the pay-off, suit colour is ignored.
8 players per game is possible
Razz poker can be played with up to 8 players but there is a little caveat.
Since you only have 52 cards in a deck, when all 8 players make it into the last round, the dealer cannot produce 56 cards to fill it up.
Instead he produces one final card which is used as the community card for all players.
The card is dealt face up and is kept normally at the centre of the table.
Razz poker is gaining steam in popularity and there is another variation of this game called London lowball.
In this form of the game flushes are counted, so the best hand you can provide from your 5 cards would be A-2-3-4-6.
This is mostly played in the European circuit and is limited to the pot-limit version of the game.
The best three cards to start off a game of Razz would be the A-2-3 combination.
There are many strategy guides out there and that can help you get better in this version of the game.
The greatest bit about the popularity of the format of this game is that it is available in almost all online poker rooms.
You do not have to travel to a physical room to play the game; instead you can take up the game from the comforts of your home.
Razz poker wasn’t the most popular game when it was introduced but slowly and steadily it has risen in the different varying versions from the original.
Thanks to it being featured a lot of times in big events, it is one of the most fun games to play and is a different take.
Normally it was about getting the highest set of cards and bringing in flushers, this game however makes it a different ball game and can be a great way to check how well you can adjust to different kinds of game styles.