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How To Play | How to Play Lowball Poker

Missing your straight by one card gets frustrating. If you find yourself getting tired of looking disgustedly at a hand of mismatched low-cards, lowball poker may be for you!

Lowball poker refers to any of a number of poker variants in which traditionally "bad" hands beat out normally "good" ones. For example, a pair of eights would beat triple fours, and a 9-high no-pair would both of them.

The differences between lowball games come from whether a game considers aces high or low, or if straights and flushes are counted. The four basic variants, named after their lowest hand, are:

  • Ace-to-five low: Aces are low; straights and flushes aren't counted. The lowest possible hand is 5-4-3-2-A. This is the most common lowball variant, used almost universally in a casino setting.
  • Ace-to-six low: Aces are low; straights and flushes are counted. The lowest hand is an unsuited 6-4-3-2-A. This variant is also called "6-4 low," and is common in the eastern parts of the United States as well as the United Kingdom.
  • Deuce-to-six low: Aces are high; straights and flushes aren't counted. The lowest hand is 6-5-4-3-2. This variant is almost entirely unused.
  • Deuce-to-seven low: Aces are high; straights and flushes are counted. The lowest hand is an unsuited 7-5-4-3-2. This variant is an almost direct inversion of traditional poker rankings, and is also called "7-5 low."

Several games use lowball rules variations on standard poker. Popular lowball games include:

  • California Lowball: Variant of draw poker, using ace-to-five low ranking. Usually played with a single joker in the deck (used as a wild card in the lowest position for a player's hand) and limit betting.
  • Kansas City Lowball: Variant of draw poker, using deuce-to-seven low ranking. Usually played with no-limit betting.
  • Razz: Variant of seven-card stud, using ace-to-five low ranking. Played with limit betting.
  • Triple Draw: Variant of draw poker, using either ace-to-five low or deuce-to-seven low ranking and allowing three drawing rounds. Played with limit or (occasionally) pot-limit betting.
  • London Lowball: Variant of seven-card stud, using ace-to-six low ranking. Played with pot-limit betting.

Another popular variant rule in lowball games is the high-low split, where the player with the highest traditional hand splits the pot with the winning lowball hand. Almost all games with this split use ace-to-five ranking and a qualifier for a low hand (for example, 8-low or lower as a cutoff for pot eligibility).

Lowball rules offer a change of pace from traditional poker, a refreshingly different look at cards that so often make players fold hand after hand.

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