For many years before the Texas Hold’em craze took over poker, Seven Card Stud was the most popular card room game. It spawned several variants that are still played widely today, including Seven Card Stud Hi-Low 8 or Better, Seven Card Stud Low and Seven Card Razz, or more simply just as “Razz.” Some players incorrectly refer to Razz as Lowball Seven Card Stud, but there are several differences that make Razz unique.
In Razz, the object of the game is to use the seven cards dealt to form the best five-card low hand possible. There is, however, no qualifying requirement such as “Eight or Better” used in Seven Card Stud Hi/Lo or Omaha Hi/Lo. Any hand can win if it has the lowest value among the hands competing in the final showdown.
The game of Razz begins with an “ante.” Each player must wager a nominal amount as the cost of being able to receive cards and play the hand. For example, in a €1/€2 game, the ante might be €0.10. Once all players have staked their antes, the dealer will distribute three cards face to each player, two face down and one card face up for everyone to see. The face-up cards are collectively known as “Third Street.” Players may look at their hidden “hole cards” in order to evaluate the merits of their hands.
The player showing the highest of all the exposed cards is the “Bring In,” forced to start the action by making a bet. In the case of a tie for highest card, the suit of the card determines the Bring In, with spades being the highest followed by hearts, diamonds and clubs. The Bring In bet is usually the same as the ante, although the player making it also has the option to wager a full bet of the lower betting increment, such as €1 in a €1/€2 game. Action then continues around the table clockwise, with players calling, raising or folding in turn until betting is done for the round.
Next, each player still active receives another exposed card. Collectively, these cards are referred to as “Fourth Street.” Now the first player to act is the one whose exposed cards have the lowest poker value. This player may either check or bet the game’s lower increment. Once more, the action continues clockwise around the table, with players calling, raising or folding in turn until the round of betting is finished.
Fifth Street comes next in the same manner as Fourth Street, however all bets and raises must be in “big bet” increments, i.e., €2 in a €1/€2 game. Then comes Sixth Street, played in the same manner as Fifth Street, and lastly there is Seventh Street, also called “The River.” Again, there is a difference in how Seventh Street is played, because the seventh card is dealt to each player face down, known only to the player to whom it is dealt.
The first player to act on Seventh Street is the one whose exposed cards have the lowest poker value. A final round of wagering takes place, followed by a Showdown to determine the winner whenever more than one player remains. The last bettor or raiser must expose his or her hole cards first. Or, if there was no betting in the final round, whoever sits in the earliest seat must reveal his or her cards first. All of the other hands are then exposed clockwise around the table.
Whichever player holds the lowest five-card poker hand wins the total amount in the pot. Should two or more hands have the same value, the pot is split equally among them. Suits are not referred to for the purposes of awarding the pot.
Just as in Seven Card Stud Hi-Low 8 or Better, straights and flushes do not count against a low hand and Aces are always treated as low. The best hand possible is 5-4-3-2-A, also known as “The Wheel.”
One special rule for Razz regards tables made up of eight players, which is quite common in tournament play. Because there are only 52 cards in the deck, it is possible to run out of cards before Seventh Street is dealt. Although this rarely occurs, when it does a single “community card” is dealt face-up on the table as the final card shared by all remaining players.