In a game of Razz, all players post antes – small bets to an agreed value – before play starts. This “seeds” the pot.
Each player is dealt two hole cards (cards not revealed to other players) and one face-up card. The face-up card is known as a “door card”.
According to Razz rules, the player with the highest-ranked door card is required to place a forced bet, usually set at a value that’s one half of the full, agreed betting amount. If two players share the same, highest-ranked card, the suit of the two cards determines which one has to bring in the bet. For this purpose, the reverse alphabetical order of the suit names determines the highest ranking – spades are highest, followed by hearts, diamonds and then clubs. For example, if one player has a jack of hearts and another has a jack of clubs, the player with the jack of hearts will place the bet.
Play then continues in a clockwise direction around the table. This round of the game is known as “third street.”
After the first betting round, each player is dealt a second face-up card and another betting round, known as “fourth street” is held.
From this point on, Razz rules stipulate that the player with the lowest-ranking card visible card always starts a betting round.
Fifth to Seventh Streets
Players who haven’t folded receive third, fourth, and fifth face-up cards, with a standard betting round held between each deal of these cards. The final card is often referred to as “the river”, and the last round is called “seventh street.”
After the third face-up card is dealt to each player (in the round known as “fifth street” because each player then has a total of five cards), the values of bets typically doubles – making it more expensive to fold because of a higher investment in the pot and ensuring that the stakes go up fast. As a result, most Razz players should fold before the bets double or know that they have a good shot at winning the pot and plan to stay in the game to the river.
Each remaining player receives a fourth face-up card, a standard betting round occurs, and then players are dealt a final face-up card, bringing their total cards to five face-up cards and two hole cards. The seventh card, or “river”, is dealt face down.
Each player chooses their final poker hand of five cards from the seven they’ve been dealt. The player with the best low hand, determined according to the Razz rules, wins the pot.
For tips on how to play Razz like a poker pro, see Razz strategy.