Razz Poker (Seven Card Stud Lo)
As opposed to Texas Hold’em, in the stud game Razz there are no community cards, instead every player is dealt seven cards, three of which face down, the other four face up. Now Razz Poker is about building the best five-card hand out of these seven cards, always taking into account that here, the lowest hand is the best. If you want to play Razz online, we recommend you try PokerStars, one of the best poker rooms on the net. Players who sign up through BonusBonusBonus get a special welcome bonus.
Before the game starts each player has to pay the ante before the first cards are dealt because since there are no blinds with this poker variant, without the ante there would be no money in the pot. After every player has paid his ante, each player (beginning with the one to the left of the dealer) is dealt three cards, the first two face down and the third one face up.
The first betting rounds
Now the player with the highest-ranking upcard (the highest card in Razz is the King, because the Ace counts low) has to pay the so-called ‘Bring-in’ (should two players have the same lowest-ranking card, suit is used to break the tie – clubs before diamonds, hearts and spades). The bring-in usually is as high as half the small bet or the entire small bet, i.e. in a $ 2/4 game it would be either $ 1 or $ 2. As soon as the bring-in has been paid, each player (starting with the player to the left of the bring-in) may fold, call or raise. In a fixed limit game, the low limit is bet in the first two betting rounds, in the five consecutive rounds it is the high limit. At the fourth street every player is dealt another card face up. Now the player with the lowest-ranking upcard has to start betting, should that player or more players have an open pair, the highest limit may already be bet here.
5th, 6th, 7h Street
Each player is dealt another card face up and again the player with the lowest-ranking open hand has to start betting. Again each player is dealt another card face up and the player with the lowest-ranking open hand has to start betting. At the 7th Street all players are dealt their last card – this time face down. In this case, the same player as in the precedent round has to start betting.
Common Card(s) and Showdown
Since up to 8 or 9 people can take part in a game of Razz and since there are only 52 cards in a poker deck sometimes there are not enough cards for every player to be dealt his last card. In this case the last card – the river – is dealt as a so-called common card, i.e. it is put face up in the centre of the table. Now this card counts as the seventh and last card for every player. In this case, too, the player whose turn it was to bet first in the precedent round has to start betting again. (In very rare cases, when there are 9 players in the game, it may be necessary to deal the sixth card as a common card, too.) Now the player with the best razz-hand wins the pot, the player who bet last, has to reveal his hand first.
Hands in Razz
The best possible hand in Razz Poker is the A, 2, 3, 4 and 5 (a so-called ‘wheel’); Aces are low, flushes and straights do not count, suit does not matter. In order to decide which hand is the winning hand, the highest cards are compared i.e. 4, 5, 6, 9 and 10 is always better than 1, 2, 3, 5 and Q.
Fold, Check, Call
If you do not like the cards you were dealt, you have the opportunity to discard (fold) them and thus leave the current round of the game. Should you be big or small blind or should you have called someone’s bet already, you lose the money. Apart from that though, since you have folded, you cannot lose any more money during this round. If you want to keep your cards and stay in the game, you can, for example, check. This means that nobody before you has placed a bet yet and that you do not either. Now the player after you has the opportunity to check himself, or to bet. If any of the players in the round bets, you need to – as soon as it is your turn – decide whether you fold, call or raise. To call means that, in case a player before you has placed a bet, you bet the same amount as he does; you call his bet.
Bet and raise/re-raise – according to the limit
If you find you have been dealt decent cards, you can bet a certain amount of money on your hand being the winning hand. If a player before you has already placed a bet, you can raise his bet. Depending on the betting structure the amounts you can bet or by which you may raise, are fixed.
Fixed limit: On a $ 5/$ 10 table you may bet $ 5 in the first two betting rounds and up to $ 10 in the last two. In each round players may bet once and raise three times (bet, raise, re-raise and again re-raise or ‘cap’). After three rounds of betting the so-called cap is reached, this means that in this betting round, no more betting can be done. In this case the next card is dealt – or if it was the last round – the showdown begins.
No limit: Here the betting structure follows these rules: Each player may bet all the money he has on the table, regardless of the size of the pot. As a rule, the minimum bet has to at least equal the amount of the Big Blind and if you decide to raise, your raise does at least have to equal that of the player before you.
Pot limit: In a pot limit game a player may bet a sum between the minimum bet and the total size of the pot. In a $ 5/$ 10 pot limit game the small blind is $ 5 and the big blind $ 10. The first player could call the big blind (i.e. $ 10 in this case) or raise to any amount up to the total pot size. The raise has to either equal or exceed the previous bet. So in this case, the maximum possible raise would be $ 25 ($ 5 small blind, $ 10 big blind and $ 10 the call) which means that player #3 may actually bet a total of $ 35. So should player #3 raise the pot limit, the total amount in the pot would then be $ 50.
Now if the next player (let’s say player #4) wants to go on playing, he at least has to call the $ 35, i.e. the bet player #3 has made. Should player #4 want to raise (up) to the pot limit he would have to put $ 120 into the pot. That is the total pot size ($ 50) plus the maximum raise of $ 70 ($ 35 call + $ 35 raise). The number of betting rounds per hand is not limited and in each round calling and raising continues until every player has either called, or folded his cards.
Primarily, players go ‘All-In’, when they have a particularly good hand. This is because: when one or more other players call this move and the player who went all-in wins anyway, his winnings in this round increase considerably. Another possibility would be, that a player goes all-in to bluff and merely signal that he has a good hand, in order to make the other players fold and win himself the pot. (What the precise rules for an all-in situation are is described in the following paragraph.) Apart from the situation described above, players could also go all-in for the following reason: In case a player lacks the necessary amount of chips to call or finish a hand but has nice cards and wants to stay in the game anyway, he does not have to fold. The player can also go ‘all-in’; so he bets all of his chips (even if they are not sufficient to cover the sum he would actually need to call) and can stay in the game without being able to act any further though. All the money that is in the pot up until the point when he goes all-in, is what the player can win. All money put into the pot after he went all-in is put in a separate pot (‘side pot’). Should the player who is all-in, win the showdown, he wins the main pot, whereas the side pot goes to the player with the second best hand. When a player goes all-in and his fellow players decide to call his bet, they obviously have to call the sum he bet.
Razz Poker, or Seven Card Stud Lo obviously is a Seven Card Stud variant and we can thus assume, that it was created at the same time. Seven Card Stud as well as its relative Razz, were created during the American Civil War (mid 19th century) and gained in popularity ever since. Only with the Texas Hold’em boom Stud Poker games were pushed out of the limelight. With the growing popularity of poker rooms, fortunately variants like Razz experience a revival. WSOP is hosting Razz since 1971 (Jimmy Casella was the first player to win it). In 2004, ESPN broadcasted the WSOP Razz event (winner: T. J. Cloutier). The television broadcast was the first step to a boom of this game in poker rooms (e.g. Full Tilt Poker, PokerStars).
Who is "Razzing"?
Razz in its pure form (before it had been Seven Card Razz) was only represented at the WSOP first in 2001. The winner of the main razz event in 2001 was poker veteran Berry Johnston (born in 1935) who won his last bracelet of five at this event.