Because Razz is almost identical to Stud in all but a few ways, we won't rehash the setup and rules for those variants here. Readers not familiar with the rules of 7 Card Stud should start with this article:
Once you understand how to play 7 Card Stud, you can easily learn how to play Razz. The only differences between Stud and Razz are in the rules governing the following factors:
- The player who must bring in the action at the start of the first betting round
- The player who must start the action on any given street
- How to decide the winning hand at showdown
Once every player has their two down cards and one door card, you're ready for one player to bring it in.
- Just as in Stud, the player required to bring in a Razz game is decided by the value of each player's door card. Unlike Stud, in Razz the player with the highest-valued door card is required to bring.
- Door cards are ranked according to face value from lowest to highest: jack, queen, king.
- Aces are viewed as low or "good" in Razz, meaning the highest-value card rank available is a king. If two players tie for high card, the suits of their door cards break the tie.
- In Razz, suits are ordered alphabetically from worst to best: clubs, diamonds, hearts, spades.
- Again similarly to in Stud, the player required to bring has two choices:
- Bet an amount equal to the ante
- Complete the bet, betting the full amount of the small bet
The Betting Rounds
The only difference between a betting round in Razz and a betting round in Stud is how you decide where the action starts for the hand.
In Stud, the player with the highest-valued show cards starts the action.
In Razz, it's the player with the best Razz hand, or lowest-valued cards, who starts the action on the betting round.
Pairs are always viewed as "high," meaning a player holding K♠ Q♠ has a better two-card Razz hand than a player with 2♣ 2♦. A hand is only as low as the value of its highest card, meaning that out of these hands:
... the best two-card Razz hand is
Even though A♥ 5♠ has an ace, which is lower than either the 2♥ or the 4♣, the highest card of A♥ 5♠ is the 5♠. The lowest two cards, without having a pair, are the 2♥ 4♣.
Once you've determined the best hand, this player gets to start the betting round. As in Stud, this player has two options:
- Check (same as a call, but since there is no bet to match, they are calling nothing)
After the final betting round has been completed, the players still in the hand enter into the showdown. In the showdown, each player makes the best five-card hand possible out of their own seven cards.
The remaining two cards are "dead" and contribute no value toward the hand at all. They are never used to evaluate the strength of a hand.
Here are the rules for evaluating the winning hand:
- A hand of Razz is won by holding the worst hand at the table
- Straights and flushes don't count in Razz hands, meaning the absolute best hand possible is the lowest straight (known as the wheel) A-2-3-4-5
- There is no qualifier for the winning hand - even if a player has two pair, if it's the lowest hand on the table, it's declared the winner
- Hands are evaluated from the highest card down, meaning A-2-3-4-8 is a worse hand than 3-4-5-6-7
- If two players have the same winning hand, the pot is split between them. Suits are not taken into account for evaluating the winning hand.
Once the pot is shipped to the winning player, the cards are collected and shuffled in preparation for the next hand. Starting with each player placing their ante, the whole cycle begins again.