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Razz is played the similarly to Seven-Card Stud, except that the lowest-ranked hand wins (in this case, it’s the strongest hand). Just like Seven-Card Stud, every player is dealt seven cards: four face-up and three face-down.

The first decision you’ll make in Razz is whether you’re going to stay in the game. You do this by looking at your starting cards and determining if they’re low enough to win. If you’ve played regular poker where the high hand wins, it can be awkward to immediately identify a low hand when you make the switch to low games. It’s a good idea to practice online (where you’re dealt more hands per hour than in live games) by playing games where low wins to improve being able to spot a low hand. Poker Stars has free Seven-Card Stud High-Low tables where you don’t have to worry about losing your own money while you learn.

Starting hands

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The best hand in Razz is a wheel: 5-4-3-2-A. Aces are always low. If you have any combination of those cards in your first three cards, stay in the game and raise! Otherwise, you can sometimes stay in the game if you have three unsuited, differently-ranked cards 8 or lower. Generally, no hands with a high card higher than 8 win. So if you don’t have those cards, you should fold. But that doesn’t mean you should always play hands 8 or lower as you’ll lose too much money in the antes. It’s best to mix it up so your opponents don’t know how to read your play.

Also keep in mind that your starting hand upcard can work for or against you. In Razz, the player with the lowest board (upcard) can put pressure on the other players since it appears that they might have the nuts. Conversely, if you have a higher card, such as a 9, as your upcard, it may encourage players who would have otherwise folded, to keep playing. For example, if your upcard is nine and your opponent’s upcard is a 4 and 5-7 in their downcards, that 7 might be too high for some players and they would have folded. But since they see a 9 as your upcard, they know at least your hand is worse than theirs and they stay in the hand.

Once you’ve played several hands of Razz you’ll begin to appreciate more and more especially due to its simplicity, you can see poker theory that you may have read about play out before you.


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