Poker is big family of card games. Many of these card games have been popular at different points of time. Razz Poker is one such poker game that has achieved popularity very recently.
It is basically a stud poker game that is also called low ball poker, meaning, the lowest hand wins. The aim of the game is to make the lowest possible hand of five cards, out of the seven cards that are dealt to a player.
As is the case with most of the poker games, the history of Razz is not very clear. Where and when the game started is yet to be ascertained, but it is believed that the game started soon after 7 card stud became popular in the early 1900s.
Razz was included in the first World Series of Poker (WSOP) in 1971, and has been included in every WSOP since then except the one in 1974.
The game was never very popular, and Seven Card Stud and 5 Card Draw took the limelight for the rest of the 20th century. However after 2004 WSOP, when the event was televised, Razz started getting popular.
Razz Poker Rules
The game is played with a standard 52 card deck amongst a maximum of 8 players.
The game starts with the players making their ante bet, which is the opening bet. After this, every player is dealt two cards face down. These are called the hole cards. Also they are dealt one card face-up; this is called the door card.
Now, the player who has the highest door places the first bet called the ‘bring-in’. In case two players have the same ranked card then the decision is made based upon the suit. The rank of suits in descending order is spades, heart, diamonds, and clubs.
The bring-in is usually half or one third the amount of a regular bet. Bring-in can also be equal to the regular bet. If it is a fraction of the regular bet then the next player can either complete the bet, or he can call the same amount as the first player.
After that the betting takes place in increments of the regular bet. After the first round of betting, each player is dealt another card face-up. Betting begins from the lowest possible hand. The process goes on till the fifth card is dealt.
After the fifth card the betting amount doubles. The seventh card is dealt face-down and then the call-out begins with the player who started the betting after the sixth card was dealt.
If 8 players are playing, and all of them play till the end, then 56 cards will be required. Since Razz is played with a standard 56 card deck, this is not possible. In such cases, the dealer deals the seventh card on the table face up. All the players are able to use his card to make their hand. This is the only time when a community card is used in Razz.
You won’t find many high stakes poker games that include Razz. This is because most players don’t play this game with a really serious attitude. Therefore, Razz is usually relegated to small ring games or the occasional poker tournament.
Many players have commented on the fact that Razz provides a good player a better chance of winning. This is because there are a lot more chances for a player reading the hands based upon the cards present on the table. Here is a look at the strategies for various hands while playing Razz.
Starting hand: In Razz you are trying to make the worst poker hand possible. That is why if you get first three cards between an ace and a five then you are in luck. If your hand has three cards between an ace and a six, even then you should complete the bet. You can think about raising it as well.
Also, remember that other players’ door cards are also visible to you. So you should take them into account as well. For instance, if you have an ace three and a five, and your opponent’s hole card is 6, then irrespective of what his other two cards are, you will definitely have the better hand.
Keep track of the cards: It is very important that you know which cards are on the table. For instance, if you have a two, a three and seven, the hand would be considered nothing better than mediocre. However, if you see that there are three 7’s on the table, then the chance of you getting a pair reduces drastically, making your hand better.
3rd and 4th street: As discussed above anything from an ace to 5 is a good starting hand. However, 7 high and 8 high are not good hands and should be folded if the other door cards are low. But if they are higher than your 8 high then you can bet. The fourth street is where the game starts to get more interesting. Now if you get a card which ends up improving your hand then you have to become more aggressive.
In other poker games you would play to entice your opponent into betting more. However, in Razz you use a technique called ram and jam. This technique simply means that as soon as you get a good hand you should raise the bet. This is because if you do not, your opponent will fold irrespective of what you bet.
The other situation on 4th street is that you receive a card that gives you a pair, but to others it looks as though you have improved your hand. In such cases you should bet if your opponent has a bad card.
Razz is a very different game in comparison to Texas Hold’em or other popular poker variants. Also, it is one of those games that you should play when you are at your peak. You need to be aggressive in this game and have to isolate the field if you want to improve your chances of winning.
It is also very important that you do not get carried away if someone is re-raising. The best option is to call and see what the next card holds. Razz is a game that can turn around suddenly simply because the chances of improving the subsequent hands are less.