Rules for Playing Lowball
On of the least attended events at the World Series of Poker are the lowball events. For many years, Lowball in its various forms were staples of card rooms on the west coast. Unfortunately, Texas Holdem drove out a lot of the games and now finding a lowball game is next to impossible other than online or in a rotation game. Online poker rooms have begun to revive the game a bit so it is a good idea to know the basic rules of the game.
Lowball is a variant of 5 Card Draw. There are two types of lowball, 2-7 and A-5. There are two variants of each type, triple draw and single draw. We will first look at 2-7 triple draw. 2-7 Lowball is a game where the worst five card hand wins the pot. Straights and flushes count against your hand. If you draw to either, the only way you are going to win is if someone happens to draw a higher hand. Aces are always high in 2-7. The best hand is known as a #1. It is 2-3-4-5-7.
Similar to Holdem and Omaha, the dealer is determined by a dealer button and the two players to the left of the dealer must put in forced bets known as blinds. In a $2-$4 Lowball game, the small blind is $1 and the big blind is $2. Betting begins with the player to the left of the big blind and continues around the table. Betting limits before and after the first draw are at the small bet amount.
After the first round of betting, each player may discard unwanted cards and draw new ones. They may take up to 5 cards. They can also “Stand Pat,” which means that the player does not wish to discard cards. After the draw is completed, another round of betting occurs. Afterwards, a second draw occurs followed by a round of betting. Betting limits after the second and third draws are at the big bet amount. The third and final draw occurs after the 2nd draw betting round is completed. After the last draw, one final round of betting occurs, followed by showdown. The player with the worst five card hand is the winner.
2-7 Lowball is usually played in a Limit format as explained above. You can find it available in NL format. Single draw 2-7 Lowball has the same rules as above except for the fact that there is only one draw as opposed to three. Single draw 2-7 is many times played as a NL game.
A-5 lowball plays similar to 2-7 but has a couple of distinct differences. First, straights and flushes do not count against you. Aces are always low in A-5, much like razz. The lowest hand you can make in A-5 lowball is a wheel. A-5 Lowball is found in both Limit and NL varieties.
While lowball may be a dying game, it is one that is still popular at high limits and is one that pros like to play at the WSOP due to the smaller fields. It is always a good idea to become a well rounded player, so take the time to make Lowball a part of your poker arsenal.