Razz Poker History
Razz is a seven card lowball poker game in which the best hand is A-2-3-4-5, straights and flushes count for nothing when playing Razz poker. Razz Poker history is very much intertwined with the history of Stud Poker. In fact Razz only exists as a direct result of Seven Card Stud, when you think about it Razz is actually just Seven Card Stud low. Amazingly Razz is growing in popularity and of all the lowball poker games offered online Razz is by far the most popular.
Early Razz Poker History
As with most forms of poker the history of Razz is a little unclear however there are significant moments in poker history which have defined Razz and made it the popular game that it is today. There is no account of when Razz was first played but it is clear that it came not long after the introduction of Seven Card Stud, after the emergence of the 52 card deck around 1900. Before that poker was played with a 20 card deck, known as ‘Straight Poker’, mainly on Mississippi riverboats throughout the 1800’s.
WSOP History Of Razz
Razz played second fiddle to games like Seven Card Stud and 5 Card Draw but was included as an event during the World Series of Poker in 1971. Razz is one of the only games to appear at every WSOP since 1971, barring the 1974 WSOP when only two events were played. When researching Razz Poker history I found many websites stating that the first WSOP Razz tournament took place in 1973. I have no idea why this is the general consensus but the World Series of Poker website clearly shows a record of a Razz event in 1971 which was won by Jimmy Casella.
Many of the games greats are etched into Razz Poker history thanks to the WSOP. Other big name players to have won World Series of Poker bracelets in Razz include; Ted Forrest, Huck Seed, Doyle Brunson, T. J. Cloutier and Barry Greenstein.
Razz Poker Legends
In 1992 Archie Karas, a poker player and pool shark born in Greece, turned up in Las Vegas with $50 in his pocket. Little did he know he was only a few months away from one of the most significant events in Razz poker history. The story goes that Archie ‘The Greek’ Karas ran his bankroll from $50 up to over $30,000 playing mostly Razz and finishing up in the $200/$400 limit Razz game at Binions Horseshoe. He then spun up his $30,000 playing pool and poker until his bankroll was well over $7,000,000. Armed with $5,000,000 in chips Archie sat at a heads up table in Binions with an open heads up challenge to the worlds best poker players. The first man to challenge Archie was the great Stu Ungar who is widely considered the best poker player who ever lived. Stu and Archie played heads up Razz for a number of days until he Archie completely busted Stu Ungar taking a total of $500,000 from him. It was the biggest heads up match the poker world had ever seen and Razz was the center of attention.
Modern Day Razz History
It wasn’t until the 2004 WSOP Razz final table that Razz started to boom in popularity again. The event was televised by ESPN and won by poker great T.J Cloutier. This seemed to spark a real reaction amongst the poker playing public and sites like Full Tilt poker immediately added the game to their selection of online option. A number of other online poker rooms followed suit and finally in 2006 Pokerstars added Razz to their online poker room. Since 2006 Pokerstars has always and still is the best place to play Razz online.
In 2005, just after Full Tilt added Razz, Full Tilt red pro Rafe Furst sparked a discussion on the Full Tilt poker forum which turned a few heads. His post was entitled ‘Why Good Players Have The Biggest Edge In Razz’ and made a strong case for the fact that the best players in the world always have the biggest edge when playing Razz as oppose to any other form of poker. He stated ‘good players always have the opportunity to take advantage of superior powers of observation, memory and math skills when playing Razz’ and went on to argue that ‘when your opponent makes such a mistake you can be 100% certain that they are making it’. This post explains why Razz has been such a popular form of poker for so many years. It’s always going to attract the biggest name players if they feel like they have the biggest edge possible when playing it.