A form of poker that has began to increase in popularity online is lowball. Lowball is a five card draw variant where the worst hand win. Lowball used to be a staple of card rooms, especially in California, but after Holdem grew in popularity, the game fell by the wayside. The internet has helped to reignite the passion for the game by many players. Let’s take a look today at how to play lowball poker.
Before we look at the basic rules of the game, we should cover the basic variation of the game that you will see. There are two types rules that are used in playing lowball. The first is 2-7 lowball, known also as Kansas City lowball. In 2-7 lowball, the player with the worst hand wins, but straights and flushes are high only. Also, aces play high only. As a result, the best hand that you can have in 2-7 lowball is 2-3-4-5-7.
The other type of lowball that you will find spread regularly is ace to five lowball, also known as California lowball. In California lowball, the worst hand wins and straights and flushes do not count against you. Aces also swing in this game, so an ace can play low or high. The wheel, or A-2-3-4-5 is the lowest hands in California lowball.
When playing lowball, you will either play triple-draw lowball or single draw lowball. Triple draw lowball is the most common variant and it is usually played in limit format. Most single draw games are played in a No-Limit format. Since the majority of games that you will play are triple draw games, that is the format we will use when talking about how to play the game in this article.
Triple draw lowball can be played with or without antes. A typical lowball game is played six-handed. If played with antes, each player at the table posts an ante that is drug to the pot before blinds are posted. Then, two players post blinds to the left of the dealer button. The first player posts the small blind and the second player the big blind. The big blind is equal to the small bet amount.
After blinds are posted, each player receives five cards. Then a round of betting occurs clockwise around the table. The blinds act the same as in Holdem. If action gets to the small blind before a raise, they can either call, raise, fold. If the big blind is not faced with a raise, they have the option to raise or check. After the betting round is complete, each player then decides how many cards that they want to receive. Each player may take up to five cards. If a player chooses not to take cards, they are considered standing pat. If a player stands pat, they may choose to draw cards on subsequent draws. Also, if a player takes five cards, many card rooms will not allow the player to take all five cards at once. The player will receive four cards, and then the dealer will give other players cards and then one last card will be dealt to the player needing five.
After the first draw is taken, then a second round of betting occurs. The second round of betting is done in the small bet increment. Once action is complete, players will draw for a second time. After the 2nd draw, a third betting round occurs at the big bet amount. After this round of betting, one final drawing round occurs. A fourth and final betting round commences and then showdown. The player with the worst five card hand takes the pot. In the event that two players have identical hands, the pot is chopped. Also, when referring to worst hand, this means the lowest ranking hand among those shown. If the lowest hand showing happens to be a pair of tens with a 8-6-3, then that player is the winner. By the way, a straight or a flush does not disqualify a person’s hand. That person still has a straight. If by some chance they are against a player that happens to draw to a flush after three draws, then the straight will win. However, you will usually fold a straight in 2-7 lowball.
If you are interested in learning more about how to play lowball poker, there are tons of materials for one to sort through online and there are even chapters on lowball in Super System and Super System 2. PokerStars is one of the larger sites that spreads lowball. If you are looking for a game of lowball, that is the place you will want to start at. Most live card rooms do not spread lowball as a single game at the lower limits. Usually you will need to play in some type of mixed game to find a lowball variant.
If you are looking to become a well rounded poker player, you will want to pick up lowball, especially 2-7 lowball. More mixed games are beginning to include lowball in the mix and now the game is even featured in the $50,000 Player’s Championship at the World Series of Poker. Learning to play it now will give you an edge on your competition once more players start hoping onto the lowball poker bandwagon.