You may have seen razz poker in many rooms, but haven't played this unusual kind of hand yet. SNG players prefer Omaha or Hold'em, but over time they will want to change, and Razz can provide them due to his popularity and aggressiveness, which is so lacking in standard Hold'em.
We will briefly talk about where this game format came from, what the nuances and rules of the game are, and how to behave in the hand in order to increase the chances of winning the pot.
Briefly about history
Razz - This is one of the subspecies of the Herd, but both formats appeared at approximately the same time period during the American Civil War. This is considered a soldier's game, they say that it also arose in the field. Basically, this is a seven-card Stud for five cards with the rules of lowball (the weak hand wins).
Only by the end of the twentieth century, similar tables began to appear in popular casinos and gambling establishments in Nevada, and in the seventies Razz had already met at international tournaments, sometimes under the name of London Lowball - as this variety is called in Great Britain.
If you have played classic Stud at least once, then there will be no problems with Razz. The rules are very similar and provide for mandatory stacks in the pot, the same playing structure and the number of circles. The main difference is that at the showdown stage, the victory is won by the low-hand, the weakest combination in the classical poker sense.
But Razz poker has a few key features that every player should remember. So, here flushes and straights are not taken into account as combinations, pairs make the hand weaker, and an ace is always the weakest card that opens a lowball combination.
Unlike Hold'em, antes come to replace the blinds. Mandatory buy-in does not exceed, as a rule, 20% of the minimum stack size, but depends on the rules of a particular poker room.
After the formation of the first pot, each poker player receives two face down and one face up card in his hand. The latter is needed to determine who will make the bring-in (additional contribution) - the holder of the strongest card. Moreover, even the suits have precedence, in the order of spades-hearts-tambourines-clubs. Bring-in is several times larger than the ante and reaches 50%. In Razz poker there is an option to refuse a deposit - in this case, it is equivalent to a fold, and the responsibility of the additional stack passes to the poker player to the left of the player who folded.
At the trading stages, the actions are standard and identical to Hold'em - pass, raise, call, pass. You can increase your opponent's stacks no more than three times per game.
On the following streets, one card is dealt on the board. The start on the turn and river is determined by the weakest card in hand (by the way, in the Razz deck it is the Ace of Clubs) and move further clockwise. On the river, players can only deposit large bets at the upper limit. On 6th street, distribution rules remain the same.
The seventh circle differs only in that the card comes face down on the table. That is, four cards remain visible to the opponents, not counting two preflop and this last one on the river.
In theory, if there are eight players at the poker table, they all reach the river, then the last card will be open and common for everyone.
The showdown is opened by the player who made his last bet. Further, the right to showdown goes to the opponents clockwise. As we mentioned above, according to the rules of lowball, the championship goes to the weakest hand.
A winning combination in Razz poker is the so-called wheel consisting of five hearts, four of spades and an ace, two of diamonds and three of clubs.
Secrets of strategy
It is very difficult to adapt to this format for poker players who are already accustomed to classic Hold'em or Omaha. Firstly, the strength of the hands is different, and secondly, the process of counting out is different due to the presence of already open cards on the board and a greater number of them.
In general, Razz poker is quite aggressive and interesting and will appeal to those who lack the drive in Hold'em.