Razz, also referred to as 7 card stud lo, has a lot of variance, although not as great as in 7 card stud hi. Appropriate starting hands are easier to identify in razz than 7 card stud hi, so good players will fold earlier when the odds are against them. Compared to a game like limit holdem, though, there is an extra betting round and you are dealt more cards before showdown. This means that you will be showing down more frequently and can except to have large swings. The game is also played with an ante which takes away the importance of position and encourages more aggressive play in addition to increasing variance. Tight players will struggle in higher limit games, since the betting structures reward aggression and ante stealing will be more frequent.
As in all stud games, there is also no such thing as a “made hand” in your first three cards, which also contributes to its high variance. Compared to a game like holdem where a big pair will very often stand up unimproved, you will need help from the deck every single time in razz, even if you start with the best possible hand. Extra bets you must make before you have a complete hand add up. This variance should not make you shy away, however, since razz win rates will be higher than limit holdem for a winning player.
Razz is the most popular form of “lowball” poker, and it has enjoyed significant growth online in the last few years. You will be able to find it almost everywhere, but to find high traffic it’s best to visit the larger poker rooms. Take a look at some of the best options below.
Safe Bankroll for Razz
Since the variance is higher than a game like limit holdem, you should have a slightly larger bankroll. Starting with 400 big bets is a good general guideline. This means that a $1/$2 player should have $800 in his bankroll in order to play razz.
Bankroll Required to Move Up in Razz
Before you move up in razz, you should ideally wait until you have 400 big bets at the next level. But since the variance is not as great as in a game like 7 card stud hi, you can relax the requirement a little. It’s fine to take a shot at a higher level with 350 big bets or so if you can handle a little more risk. Just remember that if you run into a downswing, you need to move back down immediately since you are already below the ideal bankroll recommendation. The huge potential profit increase if you win and are able to permanently move up is enough to give it a shot now and then, assuming you have the discipline.
Bankroll Required to Move Down in Razz
If you start losing and find yourself with 400 big bets at the next lower limit, you should move down a level. At most stakes, this means that if you lose 200 big bets, or half your roll, it’s time to drop and focus on building it back up. If you are confident that you can beat your current level and are not prone to tilting, you can drop a little below 200 big bets and hope that your luck turns around. If the downswing continues, however, you must recognize that you need to spend some time at the next lower limit to build back your roll before taking another shot. Don’t ever let your bankroll drop below 150 big bets at any time without dropping down, and waiting even this long will put you at a significant disadvantage at the lower limit, so use extreme caution if you drop below 400 bets at the next lower limit.
When to Cash Out Bankroll Earnings
It is fine to cash out any winnings that will leave your bankroll at 400 big bets for the level you wish to continue playing. Again, since the variance in razz is not as high as in 7 card stud hi, you have a little bit of freedom and can dip below this recommendation if necessary, perhaps down to 350 big bets or so. You just need to be aware that if you start to lose, you will have to drop a level in order to build it back up.
All in all, razz is a game that can have its swings, but a successful player can expect a very good winrate in the long run. A larger bankroll is advocated, but you have a little bit of flexibility since the variance is not as great as a game like 7 card stud hi.