Razz became much more popular after it was featured at the World Series of Poker in 1971. It is now the most popular form of Lowball poker.
Each player antes. The ante is the basis for the betting.
Each player receives two down cards (hole cards) and one up card (door card).
The player with the highest door card must begin the betting. This forced bet is usually less than the regular bet.
Everyone must at least call the first bet, raise it, or fold. Each round has a pre-determined maximum bet. There may also be a limit on the number of raises allowed.
In each of the next three rounds, the players receive an up card. In these rounds, the lowest hand bets first. There is no mandatory bet in these rounds; players may check.
The last card is dealt face-down. The player who opened in the previous round, opens this round as well.
It can happen, in an eight-player game in which no one folds, that there aren’t enough cards to complete the final deal. In that case, the last card is dealt face-up as a community card.
The player with the lowest hand wins.
Strategy & Tips
The biggest mistake new players make in any Lowball setting, is failing to understand the value of their hand. A hand topped by a nine will lose to many hands, so it is not considered good poker to stay in with such a hand.
Toward the end of a hand, bluffing is very common. Clearly, knowing your opponent is extremely important.
Savvy players will try to keep their opponents off balance. They may even purposely lose a bluff for this reason.
If two players tie with the highest card in their hand, they look at the next lowest card in each hand.
Some players suggest folding on the first round if you have a pair, even a low pair.
Fold on the first round if your lowest card is a nine or higher. Many fold immediately if their lowest card is an eight.
Since the next lowest card wins the hand if the top cards are the same, fold if your next lowest card is a seven.
It is extremely important to be aware of the opponents’ cards. Obviously, if they seem to have a better hand, it may signal a fold. But, often the opponents will be dealt cards that you also have. This reduces the chances that you will receive a pair. Since getting a pair would simply be a waste, if the cards dealt to your opponent match your low hole cards, it makes them especially strong.
Play Only for the Low Hand
Razz Poker is included in H.O.R.S.E. because true poker experts consider it a matter of pride to be able to master many quite different forms of poker.
For the average player, the fun of playing Lowball sometimes exceeds the fun of playing high hand.